Zoroastrianism

The study of religious or heroic legends and tales. One constant rule of mythology is that whatever happens amongst the gods or other mythical beings was in one sense or another a reflection of events on earth. Recorded myths and legends, perhaps preserved in literature or folklore, have an immediate interest to archaeology in trying to unravel the nature and meaning of ancient events and traditions.

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Zoroastrianism

Postby Minimalist » Mon Jun 02, 2008 9:12 pm

My book arrived today and....if this goddamn hockey game ever ends... maybe I'll get to start reading it.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

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Postby Ishtar » Mon Jun 02, 2008 10:26 pm

Yes, please turn off that hockey game, Min, and get reading this, as I'd like to discuss it with you. :lol:
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Postby pattylt » Mon Jun 02, 2008 10:31 pm

Triple overtime and they are just prolonging the pain! One of the Pathologists at my work is a Redwing homeboy and I have to listen to him make his daily claims of superiority... Enough already, just win the damn thing.... (I'm still sulking over the Avalanche getting spanked)


So, any thoughts on the book yet? I picked up Myths of Greece and Rome yesterday. Haven't started it yet.
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Postby Ishtar » Mon Jun 02, 2008 10:40 pm

Hi PattyIt

Good to hear you on the board!

Min will be pleased to have another fellow hockey enthusiast! :lol:
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Postby Minimalist » Mon Jun 02, 2008 11:35 pm

Goddam refs handed the game to Pittsburgh.....game #6 coming up.

I'm a Rangers fan, Patty.


Ish, I think we're going to get right into it. Boyce begins by setting a date for Zoroaster at between 1400 and 1200 BC. At that time the Iranians, having drifted away from their Indian cousins were still living north of Persia and were pastoralists.

Now, just taking these two ideas I have one question and one observation.

The observation is that just like Judaism and Islam, Zoroastrians harken back to a "founder" during a pastoralist period. Both the society of Judah in the 8th century BC and 7th century AD Arabia were dominated by herding.

That brings up the question. Were these originally oral recitations because there is precious little evidence for literate, pastoralist, societies?
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

-- George Carlin
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Postby Ishtar » Tue Jun 03, 2008 1:44 am

Yes, Min. I'm sure the Iranian Avesta (written in a dialect of Sanskrit) is from the same oral tradition as the Vedas.

BTW - all dates for Zoroaster are highly speculative.

But where Seeker and I differ (I think, and this is why I want you to read Mary Boyce) is who came first? Did the Iranians split from the Vedics (i.e. are they the Anu tribe which migrated West from India?) or is it the other way round?

For a long time, and because of Max Mueller and the linguists' view of an Aryan invasion in 1200 BC from Central Asia, people believed that the Vedics split away from the existing Indo-Iranians. But now we understand differently.

Indian historians believe that Zoroaster (Zarusthustra) was from a family of Bhrigu priests that had settled in Bactria - the Bhrigus were the fire priests of the Anu tribe, which explains the centrality of the fire motif in the Zoroastrian religion.

However, Mary Boyce was born in 1920 in Darjeeling, where her parents were staying to escape the heat of the Indian plains as her father was a Calcutta High Court judge. In other words, I think she is bound to be influenced by British Raj-ish thinking. But I'd be interested to hear her research anyway and I'm sure she has a lot to offer, otherwise.

So I look forward to lots of interesting discussions on this.
:lol: :
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Postby Minimalist » Tue Jun 03, 2008 10:14 am

First off this is a 2000 update of the original 1979 publication and she is citing the latest archaeological work for the 1400 - 1200 BC dates for Zoroaster...assuming that such a person actually existed and he was not just a mythic founder like Abraham and Mohammad.

In any case to answer your question, on page 2 Boyce writes:

In still remoter times the ancestors of both the Iranian and the Indians had formed one people, identified as the proto-Indo-Iranians. They were a branch of the Indo-European family of nations, and they lived, it is thought, as pastoralists on the south Russian steppes, to the east of the Volga.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

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Postby Ishtar » Tue Jun 03, 2008 10:43 am

I'm glad it's updated.

But she will still probably hold the commonly held view, based purely on linguistics, that these people living on the Steppes came down into Iran and then the Vedics split off from them and went east to India about 1200 BC where they composed the Vedas.

You may remember that in Geneticists Shake Up the Mix ---- http://archaeologica.boardbot.com/viewt ... 22&start=0 ----
I give the view of the Indian historians, which is different.

Their view is that the Iranians are the Anu tribe who originally came down into India from Kashmir. They settled in the Indus valley region but were eventually pushed out by the Purus who came down from further east in Siberia, and that the Anu tribe then migrated north west to Afghanistan and Iran.

They reckon this migration out of India happened about 10,000 years ago.

They think Zoroaster is descended from a family of Bhrigu (fire priests) of the Anu tribe, who settled after their migration from India in Bactria.

Boyce has settled on those dates for Zoroaster, but I repeat, all dates for him are highly speculative mainly because, I think I'm right in saying, there is as little evidence that he really lived as there is for Jesus.
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Postby Minimalist » Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:01 am

I'll look around in it a bit more.

Agree about the "mythic founder" idea. That seems to be a common element in all these stories. No one can really get a handle on actual existence but it is possible to identify, within a century or so, when these stories started to coalesce.

I'm intrigued by the fact that always it seems as if it is the transitional phase between pastoralism and agriculture which seems to result in the creation of these religious myths. For whatever reason this must have been a time of great stress for humanity. I can see the old people stubbornly clinging to their goats and sheep and the young punks avidly grasping their plows and computers and cell phones!
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

-- George Carlin
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Postby Ishtar » Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:06 am

Yes, but it's not so surprising if you believe, as I do, that they settled IN ORDER TO CREATE a cult temple or religion, rather than the temple or religion coming second to the community.

There is no other advantage to their settling down.
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Postby Minimalist » Tue Jun 03, 2008 12:16 pm

Yeah, I think that's putting the cart before the horse.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

-- George Carlin
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Postby Ishtar » Tue Jun 03, 2008 12:20 pm

It looks as if Boyce's dating for Z is based on the date for the Rig-veda, which, as we know, is based on an invasion of Aryans in 1500 BC.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-Aryan_migration

Two alternative dates for Zarathustra can be found in Greek sources: 5000 years before the Trojan War, i.e. 6000 BCE, or 258 years before Alexander, i.e. the 6th century BCE, the latter of which used to provide the conventional dating but has since been traced to a fictional Greek source.

Most linguists such as Burrow argue that the strong similarity between the Avestan language of the Gāthās—the oldest part of the Avesta—and the Vedic Sanskrit of the Rgveda pushes the dating of Zarathustra or at least the Gathas closer to the conventional Rgveda dating of 1500–1200 BCE, i.e. 1100 BCE, possibly earlier.

Boyce concurs with a lower date of 1100 BCE and tentatively proposes an upper date of 1500 BCE. Gnoli dates the Gathas to around 1000 BCE, as does Mallory (1989), with the caveat of a 400 year leeway on either side, i.e. between 1400 and 600 BCE. Therefore the date of the Avesta could also indicate the date of the Rigveda.


Some nice circular thinking there.

But this is interesting - the latest genetic evidence from India;

Kenneth A.R. Kennedy, a U.S. expert who has extensively studied such skeletal remains, observes, "Biological anthropologists remain unable to lend support to any of the theories concerning an Aryan biological or demographic entity."[23] Chaubey et al. (2007) find that most of the India-specific mtDNA haplogroups show coalescent times of 40 to 60 millennia ago. Sahoo et al. (2006) states that "there is general agreement that Indian caste and tribal populations share a common late Pleistocene maternal ancestry in India" and that it is not necessary, based on the current evidence, to look beyond South Asia for the origins of the paternal heritage of the majority of Indians at the time of the onset of settled agriculture.

The perennial concept of people, language, and agriculture arriving to India together through the northwest corridor does not hold up to close scrutiny. Recent claims for a linkage of haplogroups J2, L, R1a, and R2 with a contemporaneous origin for the majority of the Indian castes' paternal lineages from outside the subcontinent are rejected, although our findings do support a local origin of haplogroups F* and H. Of the others, only J2 indicates an unambiguous recent external contribution, from West Asia rather than Central Asia. [the Parsees - Ish]

A 2002-03 study by T. Kivisild et al. concluded that the "Indian tribal and caste populations derive largely from the same genetic heritage of Pleistocene southern and western Asians and have received limited gene flow from external regions since the Holocene."[25] A 2006 genetic study by the National Institute of Biologicals in India, testing a sample of men from 32 tribal and 45 caste groups, concluded that the Indians have acquired very few genes from Indo-European speakers....
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Postby Ishtar » Tue Jun 03, 2008 12:42 pm

Minimalist wrote:Yeah, I think that's putting the cart before the horse.


That's just my point. They were performing the horse sacrifice to the gods long before they had carts, or settled agricultural communities! :lol:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse_sacrifice

Many Indo-European branches show evidence for horse sacrifice, and comparative mythology suggests that they derive from a PIE ritual. In most instances, the horses are sacrificed in a funerary context, and interred with the deceased. There is evidence from three branches of Indo-European of a major horse sacrifice ritual based on a mythical union of Indo-European kingship and the horse. The clearest picture is afforded by the Indian Aśvamedha is the clearest evidence preserved, but vestiges from Latin and Celtic traditions allow the reconstruction of a few common attributes.
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Postby Minimalist » Tue Jun 03, 2008 12:47 pm

Agriculturalists, HGs and shepherds have different problems. I'm not saying there wasn't religion...I'm saying the type of settled, structured, priest-as-an-ass-kisser-to-the-king, type of religion arose after agriculture started.

Farmers are far more dependent on rainfall and sunny weather. And there was always some con artist around to pretend that he could intercede with the gods on their behalf if only they'd put a few shekels in the collection plate.

If you know what I mean.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

-- George Carlin
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Postby Ishtar » Tue Jun 03, 2008 12:52 pm

Minimalist wrote:
If you know what I mean.


Min, I'm not going there with you. :lol:

Suffice to say, there are plenty of these 'con artists' around today - and some that have been recorded by anthropologists - who are more than capable and in fact, quite regularly, make the rains come. :lol:

But let's change the subject ....
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