Zoroastrians - History and Cultural Relations

It is believed that the roots of the Zoroastrians are embedded in a tribal/pastoral ancestry. They resided in an area between the mountain ranges of the Hindu Kush and Seistan, a territory now divided between Iran and Afghanistan. Zoroaster, their prophet, is assumed to have been born between 2,600 and 3,500 years ago. His philosophy, which also set the foundations for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, originated in the northeast of Iran and spread throughout the south and west during the Achaemenid dynasty (sixth to fourth centuries B.C. ). After Alexander's conquest, Greek and Semitic elements penetrated the religion during the rule of the Graeco-Persian satraps (250 B.C. to A.D. 226). The Sāsānid dynasty ( A.D. 224 to A.D. 651) adopted Zoroastrianism as the official religion. In the seventh century, after the Arab invasion, Islam replaced Zoroastrianism as the state religion, and the Zoroastrians were subjected to persecution and forced conversion. There ensued a migration of Zoroastrians to India, where today they are known as "Parsis." Many also moved to China, but that community was suppressed during the eleventh century. The Zoroastrians remaining in Iran were able to survive in conditions of extreme poverty and discrimination. By the thirteenth century, their numbers were extremely low, and thereafter they disappear from the historical record. It was during the seventeenth century, when Europeans began to travel in Iran, that other countries learned about their continued existence in Iran.

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