The Bronze Age civilisation of Central Asia developed during the second half of the third millennium BC. Besides elements resembling Middle Eastern contemporary civilisations (e.g. economy, art), it displays also some peculiarities resembling earlier periods (e.g. importance of hunting), as well as specific steppe relations (e.g. pottery, horses) and purely local traits (e.g. animal burials, camel domestication, lapis lazuli, tin trade). This original 'Oxus civilisation' raises a number of issues related to environmental (arid period), ethno-linguistic (Indo-Iranian), historical (chronology, origin, decline) and methodological problems, such as its place in a neo-evolutionist scheme as a manifestation of a proto-urban phenomenon. The longue durée, revisited as a system in the Middle Asian interaction sphere, seems a promising way of understanding this civilisation.