Episode 12: Iranian Religion

Artists depiction of Zoroaster, founder and prophet of Zoroastrianism, in Yazd, Iran. Image credit: Msanta20 via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

It’s time to introduce religion into the mix, starting with the origins and background of ancient Iranian traditions in general, and then narrowing in on the most famous and significant: Zoroastrianism. This episode explores the traditions and gods of the Indo-European steppe peoples as they migrated and became the Iranians, Persians and Medes included. I’ll also discuss the reforms and doctrines of the ancient prophet Zoroaster who established a religion centered around a single supreme god, Ahura Mazda.

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Episode 2: Indo-Iranians


Map of Indo-European Migrations. Pink represents the original range. The darker areas represent earlier migrations. The lighter areas represent later migrations. Original image by Joshua Jonathan via Wikimedia CommonsCreative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported. Text labels by Trevor Culley, 2019.

Last time, we got up to speed on what was going on in the Near East in the centuries before the Persians showed up. What we didn’t cover, was who exactly are these “Persians,” and what were they doing while their future empire was being taken over by the Assyrians. This time, we figure that out as we follow some steppe nomads called the Proto-Indo-Europeans on their 3000-ish year journey to becoming the Persians. 
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