THE PERSIAN EMPIRE AND ZOROASTRIANISM Indo-European migrations, ca. 2000 B.C.E. A. Aryans: 1 branch to India, 1 branch to IRAN B. “Aryan”→”Iran” C. PERSIANS = one of several Iranic peoples confronted SEMITIC peoples in Iraq/Syria. SEMITIC PEOPLES.
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Indo-European migration, c. 1500 B.C.E.
A. Founded by Cyrus the Great, who defeated Babylonians
to an end (331 B.C.E.).
C. Hellenism takes root in Iran.
A. Highly centralized state
B. Shahanshah = “King of Kings”
modern image of Zoroaster
Ahura Mazda = force of good, governs sky, “good earth,” water, fire
Angra Mainyu / Ahriman = force of evil and darkness
image of Ahura Mazda at Persepolis
Sasanian cliff carving of Ahura Mazda (right), giving crown to emperor Ardashir II (r. 379-83 C.E.)
Sasanian fire altars
tomb of Cyrus the Great
tower of silence, Yazd, Iran
D. Human being contributes to realm of good (Ahura Mazda)
through good deeds, or to realm of evil (Angra Mainyu /
Ahriman) through bad deeds.
E. Paradise (Firdus) and hell
A. Avesta = Ahura Mazda’s revelation to Zoroaster
B. Gathas = hymns composed by Zoroaster
C. The problem of writing
D. Achaemenids adopted Aramaic as bureaucratic language
(later displaced by local Iranian languages).
A. Preside over five daily prayers
B. Tend sacred fires
Then… …and now
A. Adopts Zoroastrian struggle between good and evil, but asserts
that all of creation belongs to realm of evil / darkness
B. Stresses asceticism and egalitarianism
C. In response, Sasanians adopt highly monotheistic brand of