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Radiocarbon ages are still calculated using this half-life, and are known as "Conventional Radiocarbon Age". Since the calibration curve IntCal also reports past atmospheric 14 C concentration using this conventional age, any conventional ages calibrated against the IntCal curve will produce a correct calibrated age. When a date is quoted, the reader should be aware that if it is an uncalibrated date a term used for dates given in radiocarbon years it may differ substantially from the best estimate of the actual calendar date, both because it uses the wrong value for the half-life of 14 C , and because no correction calibration has been applied for the historical variation of 14 C in the atmosphere over time.
Carbon is distributed throughout the atmosphere, the biosphere, and the oceans; these are referred to collectively as the carbon exchange reservoir,  and each component is also referred to individually as a carbon exchange reservoir. The different elements of the carbon exchange reservoir vary in how much carbon they store, and in how long it takes for the 14 C generated by cosmic rays to fully mix with them. This affects the ratio of 14 C to 12 C in the different reservoirs, and hence the radiocarbon ages of samples that originated in each reservoir.
There are several other possible sources of error that need to be considered. The errors are of four general types:. To verify the accuracy of the method, several artefacts that were datable by other techniques were tested; the results of the testing were in reasonable agreement with the true ages of the objects.
Over time, however, discrepancies began to appear between the known chronology for the oldest Egyptian dynasties and the radiocarbon dates of Egyptian artefacts. The question was resolved by the study of tree rings: Coal and oil began to be burned in large quantities during the 19th century. Dating an object from the early 20th century hence gives an apparent date older than the true date.
For the same reason, 14 C concentrations in the neighbourhood of large cities are lower than the atmospheric average. This fossil fuel effect also known as the Suess effect, after Hans Suess, who first reported it in would only amount to a reduction of 0. A much larger effect comes from above-ground nuclear testing, which released large numbers of neutrons and created 14 C. From about until , when atmospheric nuclear testing was banned, it is estimated that several tonnes of 14 C were created.
The level has since dropped, as this bomb pulse or "bomb carbon" as it is sometimes called percolates into the rest of the reservoir. Photosynthesis is the primary process by which carbon moves from the atmosphere into living things. In photosynthetic pathways 12 C is absorbed slightly more easily than 13 C , which in turn is more easily absorbed than 14 C. This effect is known as isotopic fractionation. At higher temperatures, CO 2 has poor solubility in water, which means there is less CO 2 available for the photosynthetic reactions.
The enrichment of bone 13 C also implies that excreted material is depleted in 13 C relative to the diet. The carbon exchange between atmospheric CO 2 and carbonate at the ocean surface is also subject to fractionation, with 14 C in the atmosphere more likely than 12 C to dissolve in the ocean.
This increase in 14 C concentration almost exactly cancels out the decrease caused by the upwelling of water containing old, and hence 14 C depleted, carbon from the deep ocean, so that direct measurements of 14 C radiation are similar to measurements for the rest of the biosphere.
Correcting for isotopic fractionation, as is done for all radiocarbon dates to allow comparison between results from different parts of the biosphere, gives an apparent age of about years for ocean surface water.
The CO 2 in the atmosphere transfers to the ocean by dissolving in the surface water as carbonate and bicarbonate ions; at the same time the carbonate ions in the water are returning to the air as CO 2.
The deepest parts of the ocean mix very slowly with the surface waters, and the mixing is uneven. The main mechanism that brings deep water to the surface is upwelling, which is more common in regions closer to the equator.
Upwelling is also influenced by factors such as the topography of the local ocean bottom and coastlines, the climate, and wind patterns. Overall, the mixing of deep and surface waters takes far longer than the mixing of atmospheric CO 2 with the surface waters, and as a result water from some deep ocean areas has an apparent radiocarbon age of several thousand years.
Upwelling mixes this "old" water with the surface water, giving the surface water an apparent age of about several hundred years after correcting for fractionation. The northern and southern hemispheres have atmospheric circulation systems that are sufficiently independent of each other that there is a noticeable time lag in mixing between the two. Since the surface ocean is depleted in 14 C because of the marine effect, 14 C is removed from the southern atmosphere more quickly than in the north.
For example, rivers that pass over limestone , which is mostly composed of calcium carbonate , will acquire carbonate ions.
Similarly, groundwater can contain carbon derived from the rocks through which it has passed. Volcanic eruptions eject large amounts of carbon into the air. Dormant volcanoes can also emit aged carbon. Any addition of carbon to a sample of a different age will cause the measured date to be inaccurate.
Contamination with modern carbon causes a sample to appear to be younger than it really is: Samples for dating need to be converted into a form suitable for measuring the 14 C content; this can mean conversion to gaseous, liquid, or solid form, depending on the measurement technique to be used.
Before this can be done, the sample must be treated to remove any contamination and any unwanted constituents. Particularly for older samples, it may be useful to enrich the amount of 14 C in the sample before testing. This can be done with a thermal diffusion column. Once contamination has been removed, samples must be converted to a form suitable for the measuring technology to be used. For accelerator mass spectrometry , solid graphite targets are the most common, although gaseous CO 2 can also be used.
The quantity of material needed for testing depends on the sample type and the technology being used. There are two types of testing technology: For beta counters, a sample weighing at least 10 grams 0. For decades after Libby performed the first radiocarbon dating experiments, the only way to measure the 14 C in a sample was to detect the radioactive decay of individual carbon atoms. Libby's first detector was a Geiger counter of his own design. He converted the carbon in his sample to lamp black soot and coated the inner surface of a cylinder with it.
This cylinder was inserted into the counter in such a way that the counting wire was inside the sample cylinder, in order that there should be no material between the sample and the wire.
Libby's method was soon superseded by gas proportional counters , which were less affected by bomb carbon the additional 14 C created by nuclear weapons testing. These counters record bursts of ionization caused by the beta particles emitted by the decaying 14 C atoms; the bursts are proportional to the energy of the particle, so other sources of ionization, such as background radiation, can be identified and ignored.
The counters are surrounded by lead or steel shielding, to eliminate background radiation and to reduce the incidence of cosmic rays. In addition, anticoincidence detectors are used; these record events outside the counter, and any event recorded simultaneously both inside and outside the counter is regarded as an extraneous event and ignored.
The other common technology used for measuring 14 C activity is liquid scintillation counting, which was invented in , but which had to wait until the early s, when efficient methods of benzene synthesis were developed, to become competitive with gas counting; after liquid counters became the more common technology choice for newly constructed dating laboratories.
The counters work by detecting flashes of light caused by the beta particles emitted by 14 C as they interact with a fluorescing agent added to the benzene. Like gas counters, liquid scintillation counters require shielding and anticoincidence counters. For both the gas proportional counter and liquid scintillation counter, what is measured is the number of beta particles detected in a given time period.
This provides a value for the background radiation, which must be subtracted from the measured activity of the sample being dated to get the activity attributable solely to that sample's 14 C. In addition, a sample with a standard activity is measured, to provide a baseline for comparison. The ions are accelerated and passed through a stripper, which removes several electrons so that the ions emerge with a positive charge.
A particle detector then records the number of ions detected in the 14 C stream, but since the volume of 12 C and 13 C , needed for calibration is too great for individual ion detection, counts are determined by measuring the electric current created in a Faraday cup. Any 14 C signal from the machine background blank is likely to be caused either by beams of ions that have not followed the expected path inside the detector, or by carbon hydrides such as 12 CH 2 or 13 CH. A 14 C signal from the process blank measures the amount of contamination introduced during the preparation of the sample.
These measurements are used in the subsequent calculation of the age of the sample. The calculations to be performed on the measurements taken depend on the technology used, since beta counters measure the sample's radioactivity whereas AMS determines the ratio of the three different carbon isotopes in the sample.
To determine the age of a sample whose activity has been measured by beta counting, the ratio of its activity to the activity of the standard must be found. To determine this, a blank sample of old, or dead, carbon is measured, and a sample of known activity is measured. The additional samples allow errors such as background radiation and systematic errors in the laboratory setup to be detected and corrected for.
The results from AMS testing are in the form of ratios of 12 C , 13 C , and 14 C , which are used to calculate Fm, the "fraction modern". Both beta counting and AMS results have to be corrected for fractionation. The calculation uses 8,, the mean-life derived from Libby's half-life of 5, years, not 8,, the mean-life derived from the more accurate modern value of 5, years. The reliability of the results can be improved by lengthening the testing time.
Radiocarbon dating is generally limited to dating samples no more than 50, years old, as samples older than that have insufficient 14 C to be measurable. Older dates have been obtained by using special sample preparation techniques, large samples, and very long measurement times. These techniques can allow measurement of dates up to 60, and in some cases up to 75, years before the present. This was demonstrated in by an experiment run by the British Museum radiocarbon laboratory, in which weekly measurements were taken on the same sample for six months.
The measurements included one with a range from about to about years ago, and another with a range from about to about Errors in procedure can also lead to errors in the results.
The calculations given above produce dates in radiocarbon years: To produce a curve that can be used to relate calendar years to radiocarbon years, a sequence of securely dated samples is needed which can be tested to determine their radiocarbon age. The study of tree rings led to the first such sequence: These factors affect all trees in an area, so examining tree-ring sequences from old wood allows the identification of overlapping sequences. In this way, an uninterrupted sequence of tree rings can be extended far into the past.
The first such published sequence, based on bristlecone pine tree rings, was created by Wesley Ferguson. Suess said he drew the line showing the wiggles by "cosmic schwung ", by which he meant that the variations were caused by extraterrestrial forces. It was unclear for some time whether the wiggles were real or not, but they are now well-established.
A calibration curve is used by taking the radiocarbon date reported by a laboratory, and reading across from that date on the vertical axis of the graph. The point where this horizontal line intersects the curve will give the calendar age of the sample on the horizontal axis. This is the reverse of the way the curve is constructed: Over the next thirty years many calibration curves were published using a variety of methods and statistical approaches.
The improvements to these curves are based on new data gathered from tree rings, varves , coral , plant macrofossils , speleothems , and foraminifera. The INTCAL13 data includes separate curves for the northern and southern hemispheres, as they differ systematically because of the hemisphere effect. The southern curve SHCAL13 is based on independent data where possible, and derived from the northern curve by adding the average offset for the southern hemisphere where no direct data was available.
The sequence can be compared to the calibration curve and the best match to the sequence established. Bayesian statistical techniques can be applied when there are several radiocarbon dates to be calibrated. For example, if a series of radiocarbon dates is taken from different levels in a stratigraphic sequence, Bayesian analysis can be used to evaluate dates which are outliers, and can calculate improved probability distributions, based on the prior information that the sequence should be ordered in time.
Several formats for citing radiocarbon results have been used since the first samples were dated. As of , the standard format required by the journal Radiocarbon is as follows. For example, the uncalibrated date "UtC Related forms are sometimes used: Calibrated dates should also identify any programs, such as OxCal, used to perform the calibration.
A key concept in interpreting radiocarbon dates is archaeological association: It frequently happens that a sample for radiocarbon dating can be taken directly from the object of interest, but there are also many cases where this is not possible. Metal grave goods, for example, cannot be radiocarbon dated, but they may be found in a grave with a coffin, charcoal, or other material which can be assumed to have been deposited at the same time.
In these cases a date for the coffin or charcoal is indicative of the date of deposition of the grave goods, because of the direct functional relationship between the two. There are also cases where there is no functional relationship, but the association is reasonably strong: Contamination is of particular concern when dating very old material obtained from archaeological excavations and great care is needed in the specimen selection and preparation.
In , Thomas Higham and co-workers suggested that many of the dates published for Neanderthal artefacts are too recent because of contamination by "young carbon".
As a tree grows, only the outermost tree ring exchanges carbon with its environment, so the age measured for a wood sample depends on where the sample is taken from. This means that radiocarbon dates on wood samples can be older than the date at which the tree was felled. In addition, if a piece of wood is used for multiple purposes, there may be a significant delay between the felling of the tree and the final use in the context in which it is found.
Another example is driftwood, which may be used as construction material. It is not always possible to recognize re-use. Other materials can present the same problem: A separate issue, related to re-use, is that of lengthy use, or delayed deposition.
For example, a wooden object that remains in use for a lengthy period will have an apparent age greater than the actual age of the context in which it is deposited. The alleged descent from the Sassanid house counterbalanced the Arab nationalism of the Umayyads, and the Iranian national association with a Zoroastrian past was disarmed. Thus, according to scholar Mary Boyce, "it was no longer the Zoroastrians alone who stood for patriotism and loyalty to the past.
With Iranian especially Persian support, the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyads in , and in the subsequent caliphate government—that nominally lasted until —Muslim Iranians received marked favor in the new government, both in Iran and at the capital in Baghdad.
This mitigated the antagonism between Arabs and Iranians, but sharpened the distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims. The Abbasids zealously persecuted heretics , and although this was directed mainly at Muslim sectarians , it also created a harsher climate for non-Muslims. Despite economic and social incentives to convert, Zoroastrianism remained strong in some regions, particularly in those furthest away from the Caliphate capital at Baghdad.
In Bukhara in present-day Uzbekistan , resistance to Islam required the 9th-century Arab commander Qutaiba to convert his province four times. The first three times the citizens reverted to their old religion. Finally, the governor made their religion "difficult for them in every way", turned the local fire temple into a mosque, and encouraged the local population to attend Friday prayers by paying each attendee two dirhams.
The 9th century came to define the great number of Zoroastrian texts that were composed or re-written during the 8th to 10th centuries excluding copying and lesser amendments, which continue for some time thereafter.
All of these works are in the Middle Persian dialect of that period free of Arabic words , and written in the difficult Pahlavi script hence the adoption of the term "Pahlavi" as the name of the variant of the language, and of the genre, of those Zoroastrian books.
If read aloud, these books would still have been intelligible to the laity. Many of these texts are responses to the tribulations of the time, and all of them include exhortations to stand fast in their religious beliefs. Some, such as the " Denkard ", are doctrinal defenses of the religion, while others are explanations of theological aspects such as the Bundahishn 's or practical aspects e.
About sixty such works are known to have existed, of which some are known only from references to them in other works. In Khorasan in the northeastern Iran, a 10th-century Iranian nobleman brought together four Zoroastrian priests to transcribe a Sassanid-era Middle Persian work titled Book of the Lord Khwaday Namag from Pahlavi script into Arabic script.
This transcription, which remained in Middle Persian prose an Arabic version, by al-Muqaffa , also exists , was completed in and subsequently became the basis for Firdausi 's Book of Kings. It became enormously popular among both Zoroastrians and Muslims, and also served to propagate the Sassanid justification for overthrowing the Arsacids i. Among migrations were those to cities in or on the margins of the great salt deserts, in particular to Yazd and Kerman , which remain centers of Iranian Zoroastrianism to this day.
Yazd became the seat of the Iranian high priests during Mongol Il-Khanate rule, when the "best hope for survival [for a non-Muslim] was to be inconspicuous. The descendants of that group are today known as the Parsis —"as the Gujaratis , from long tradition, called anyone from Iran"  —who today represent the larger of the two groups of Zoroastrians.
The struggle between Zoroastrianism and Islam declined in the 10th and 11th centuries. Local Iranian dynasties, "all vigorously Muslim,"  had emerged as largely independent vassals of the Caliphs. In the 16th century, in one of the early letters between Iranian Zoroastrians and their co-religionists in India, the priests of Yazd lamented that "no period [in human history], not even that of Alexander , had been more grievous or troublesome for the faithful than 'this millennium of the demon of Wrath '.
Zoroastrianism has survived into the modern period, particularly in India, where it has been present since about the 9th century. Today Zoroastrianism can be divided in three different sects or dominions: Traditionalists or isolationists are almost solely Parsis and accept, beside the Gathas and Avesta, also the Middle Persian works called 'Nasks of the Sassanians'.
They generally do not allow conversion to the faith. Therefore, for someone to be a Zoroastrian, they must be born of Zoroastrian parents. Some traditionalists recognize the children of mixed marriages as Zoroastrians. From the 19th century onward, the Parsis gained a reputation for their education and widespread influence in all aspects of society. They played an instrumental role in the economic development of the region over many decades; several of the best-known business conglomerates of India are run by Parsi-Zoroastrians, including Tata , Godrej , Wadia families, and others.
Though the Armenians share a rich history affiliated with Zoroastrianism that eventually declined with the advent of Christianity , reports indicate that there were Zoroastrian Armenians in Armenia until the s.
A comparatively minor population persisted in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Persia, and an expatriate community has formed in the United States some from India , and to a lesser extent in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. Many of these are titled restorationists, progressives or "reformists". Progressives generally accept the Yashts and the Visperad texts of the Avesta as obligatory, along with the Gathas.
Restorationists refer only to the compositions of Zoroaster, and thus only consider the Gathas , the other texts only having value as far as they elaborate on some Gathic point and do not contradict the Gathic teaching. At the request of the government of Tajikistan , UNESCO declared a year to celebrate the "th anniversary of Zoroastrian culture", with special events throughout the world.
In the Tehran Mobeds Anjuman announced that for the first time in the history of Iran and of the Zoroastrian communities worldwide, women had been ordained in Iran and North America as mobedyars, meaning women mobeds Zoroastrian priests. Some scholars believe  that key concepts of Zoroastrian eschatology and demonology influenced the Abrahamic religions. The religion of Zoroastrianism is closest to Vedic religion.
Some historians believe that Zoroastrianism, along with similar philosophical revolutions in South Asia were interconnected strings of reformation against a common Indo-Aryan thread. Many traits of Zoroastrianism can be traced back to the culture and beliefs of the prehistorical Indo-Iranian period, that is, to the time before the migrations that led to the Indo-Aryans and Iranics becoming distinct peoples.
Zoroastrianism consequently shares elements with the historical Vedic religion that also has its origins in that era. They are descended from a common Proto-Indo-Iranian religion. Vedic religious texts are replete with people from far flung countries practising or leaving Aryan teachings. Zoroastrianism is often compared with Manichaeism. Nominally an Iranian religion, it has its origins in Middle-Eastern Gnosticism.
Superficially such a comparison seems apt, as both are dualistic and Manichaeism adopted many of the Yazatas for its own pantheon. Gherardo Gnoli, in The Encyclopaedia of Religion ,  says that "we can assert that Manichaeism has its roots in the Iranian religious tradition and that its relationship to Mazdaism, or Zoroastrianism, is more or less like that of Christianity to Judaism".
They are however quite different. Zoroastrianism, on the other hand, rejects every form of asceticism, has no dualism of matter and spirit only of good and evil , and sees the spiritual world as not very different from the natural one the word "paradise", or pairi. Manichaeism's basic doctrine was that the world and all corporeal bodies were constructed from the substance of Satan, an idea that is fundamentally at odds with the Zoroastrian notion of a world that was created by God and that is all good, and any corruption of it is an effect of the bad.
From what may be inferred from many Manichean texts and a few Zoroastrian sources [ citation needed ] , the adherents of the two religions or at least their respective priesthoods despised each other intensely.
Many aspects of Zoroastrianism are present in the culture and mythologies of the peoples of the Greater Iran , not least because Zoroastrianism was a dominant influence on the people of the cultural continent for a thousand years.
The Avesta is the religious book of Zoroastrians that contains a collection of sacred texts. The history of the Avesta is found in many Pahlavi texts. According to tradition, Ahura Mazda created the twenty-one nasks which Zoroaster brought to Vishtaspa.
Here, two copies were created, one which was put in the house of archives, and the other put in the Imperial treasury. During Alexander's conquest of Persia, the Avesta was burned, and the scientific sections that the Greeks could use were dispersed among themselves. During the Sassanid Empire , Ardeshir ordered Tansar, his high priest , to finish the work that King Valax had started.
Shapur I sent priests to locate the scientific text portions of the Avesta that were in the possession of the Greeks. The compilation of these ancient texts was successfully established underneath the Mazdean priesthood and the Sassanian emperors. Only a fraction of the texts survive today. The later manuscripts all date from this millennium, the latest being from , years after the fall of the Sassanian Empire.
The texts that remain today are the Gathas , Yasna , Visperad and the Vendidad. Along with these texts is the communal household prayer book called the Khordeh Avesta , which contains the Yashts and the Siroza.
The rest of the materials from the Avesta are called "Avestan fragments". Middle Persian and Pahlavi works created in the 9th and 10th century contain many religious Zoroastrian books, as most of the writers and copyists were part of the Zoroastrian clergy. All Middle Persian texts written on Zoroastrianism during this time period are considered secondary works on the religion, and not scripture.
Nonetheless, these texts have a strong influence on the religion. Zoroastrianism was founded by Zoroaster or Zarathustra , later deemed a prophet, in ancient Iran. The precise date of the founding of Zoroastrianism is uncertain. Zoroaster was born in either Northeast Iran or Southwest Afghanistan. He was born into a culture with a polytheistic religion, which included animal sacrifice  and the ritual use of intoxicants, quite similar to early forms of Hinduism in India.
Zoroaster's birth and early life are little documented. What is known is recorded in the Gathas —the core of the Avesta, which contains hymns thought to be composed by Zoroaster himself. Born into the Spitama clan, he worked as a priest. He had a wife, three sons, and three daughters. Zoroaster rejected the religion of the Bronze Age Iranians, with their many gods and oppressive class structure , in which the Karvis and Karapans princes and priests controlled the ordinary people.
He also opposed animal sacrifices and the use of the hallucinogenic Haoma plant possibly a species of ephedra in rituals, but held the rooster as a "symbol of light"  and associated it with "good against evil"  because of his heraldic actions. According to Zoroastrian belief, when Zoroaster was 30 years old, he went into the Daiti river to draw water for a Haoma ceremony; when he emerged, he received a vision of Vohu Manah.
After this, Vohu Manah took him to the other six Amesha Spentas, where he received the completion of his vision. Zoroaster believed in one creator God, teaching that only one God was worthy of worship. Some of the deities of the old religion, the Daevas Devas in Sanskrit , appeared to delight in war and strife. Zoroaster said these were evil spirits, workers of Angra Mainyu. Zoroaster's ideas were not taken up quickly; he originally only had one convert: Many did not like Zoroaster's downgrading of the Daevas to evil spirits.
After 12 years of little success, Zoroaster left his home. In the country of King Vishtaspa in Bactria , the king and queen heard Zoroaster debating with the religious leaders of the land and decided to accept Zoroaster's ideas as the official religion of their kingdom. Zoroaster died in his late 70s. Very little is known of the time between Zoroaster and the Achaemenian period, except that Zoroastrianism spread to Western Iran.
By the time of the founding of the Achaemenid Empire, Zoroastrianism was already a well-established religion. In Zoroastrianism, Ahura Mazda is the beginning and the end, the creator of everything that can and cannot be seen, the Eternal, the Pure and the only Truth. In the Gathas , the most sacred texts of Zoroastrianism thought to have been composed by Zoroaster himself, the prophet acknowledged devotion to no other divinity besides Ahura Mazda.
Daena din in modern Persian is the eternal Law, whose order was revealed to humanity through the Mathra-Spenta "Holy Words". Daena has been used to mean religion, faith, law, and even as a translation for the Hindu and Buddhist term Dharma. The latter is often interpreted as "duty" but can also mean social order, right conduct, or virtue.
Daena should not be confused with the fundamental principle asha Vedic rta , the equitable law of the universe, which governed the life of the ancient Indo-Iranians. For these, asha was the course of everything observable—the motion of the planets and astral bodies; the progression of the seasons; and the pattern of daily nomadic herdsman life, governed by regular metronomic events such as sunrise and sunset. All physical creation geti was thus determined to run according to a master plan—inherent to Ahura Mazda—and violations of the order druj were violations against creation, and thus violations against Ahura Mazda.
This concept of asha versus the druj should not be confused with the good-versus-evil battle evident in western religions, for although both forms of opposition express moral conflict, the asha versus druj concept is more systemic and less personal, representing, for instance, chaos that opposes order ; or "uncreation", evident as natural decay that opposes creation ; or more simply "the lie" that opposes truth and righteousness.
Moreover, in his role as the one uncreated creator of all, Ahura Mazda is not the creator of druj , which is "nothing", anti-creation, and thus likewise uncreated. Thus, in Zoroaster's revelation, Ahura Mazda was perceived to be the creator of only the good Yasna In this schema of asha versus druj , mortal beings both humans and animals play a critical role, for they too are created. Here, in their lives, they are active participants in the conflict, and it is their duty to defend order, which would decay without counter action.
Throughout the Gathas , Zoroaster emphasizes deeds and actions, and accordingly asceticism is frowned upon in Zoroastrianism. In later Zoroastrianism, this was explained as fleeing from the experiences of life, which was the very purpose that the urvan most commonly translated as the "soul" was sent into the mortal world to collect. The avoidance of any aspect of life, which includes the avoidance of the pleasures of life, is a shirking of the responsibility and duty to oneself, one's urvan , and one's family and social obligations.
Central to Zoroastrianism is the emphasis on moral choice, to choose the responsibility and duty for which one is in the mortal world, or to give up this duty and so facilitate the work of druj. Similarly, predestination is rejected in Zoroastrian teaching. Humans bear responsibility for all situations they are in, and in the way they act toward one another. Reward, punishment, happiness, and grief all depend on how individuals live their lives.
In Zoroastrianism, good transpires for those who do righteous deeds. Those who do evil have themselves to blame for their ruin.
Zoroastrian morality is then to be summed up in the simple phrase, "good thoughts, good words, good deeds" Humata , Hukhta , Hvarshta in Avestan , for it is through these that asha is maintained and druj is kept in check. Through accumulation, several other beliefs were introduced to the religion that, in some instances, supersede those expressed in the Gathas.
In the late 19th century, the moral and immoral forces came to be represented by Spenta Mainyu and its antithesis Angra Mainyu , the "good spirit" and "evil spirit" emanations of Ahura Mazda, respectively.
Although the names are old, this opposition is a modern Western-influenced development popularized by Martin Haug in the s, and was, in effect, a realignment of the precepts of Zurvanism Zurvanite Zoroastrianism , which had postulated a third deity, Zurvan , to explain a mention of twinship Yasna Although Zurvanism had died out by the 10th century, the critical question of the "twin brothers" mentioned in Yasna Haug's concept was subsequently disseminated as a Parsi interpretation, thus corroborating Haug's theory, and the idea became so popular that it is now almost universally accepted as doctrine.
Zoroastrianism developed the abstract concepts of heaven and hell, as well as personal and final judgment, all of which are only alluded to in the Gathas. However, the Zoroastrian personal judgment is not final. At the end of time, when evil is finally defeated, all souls will be ultimately reunited with their Fravashi.
Thus, Zoroastrianism can be said to be a universalist religion with respect to salvation. In addition, and strongly influenced by Babylonian and Akkadian practices, the Achaemenids popularized shrines and temples, hitherto alien forms of worship. In the wake of Achaemenid expansion, shrines were constructed throughout the empire and particularly influenced the role of Mithra , Aredvi Sura Anahita , Verethregna and Tishtrya , all of which, in addition to their original proto- Indo-Iranian functions, now also received Perso-Babylonian functions.
According to the Zoroastrian creation myth , Ahura Mazda existed in light and goodness above, while Angra Mainyu existed in darkness and ignorance below. They have existed independently of each other for all time, and manifest contrary substances. Ahura Mazda first created seven abstract heavenly beings called Amesha Spentas , who support him and represent beneficent aspects, along with numerous yazads , lesser beings worthy of worship.
He then created the universe itself in order to ensnare evil. Ahura Mazda created the floating, egg-shaped universe in two parts: Ahura Mazda then created Gayomard , the archetypical perfect man, and the first bull. While Ahura Mazda created the universe and humankind, Angra Mainyu, whose instinct is to destroy, miscreated demons, evil yazads , and noxious creatures khrafstar such as snakes, ants, and flies.
Angra Mainyu created an opposite, evil being for each good being, except for humans, which he found he could not match. Angra Mainyu invaded the universe through the base of the sky, inflicting Gayomard and the bull with suffering and death. However, the evil forces were trapped in the universe and could not retreat. The dying primordial man and bull emitted seeds. From the bull's seed grew all beneficial plants and animals of the world, and from the man's seed grew a plant whose leaves became the first human couple.
Humans thus struggle in a two-fold universe trapped with evil. The evils of this physical world are not products of an inherent weakness, but are the fault of Angra Mainyu's assault on creation.
This assault turned the perfectly flat, peaceful, and ever day-lit world into a mountainous, violent place that is half night. Zoroastrianism also includes beliefs about the renovation of the world and individual judgment cf. Individual judgment at death is by the Bridge of Judgment , which each human must cross, facing a spiritual judgment. Humans' actions under their free will determine the outcome. One is either greeted at the bridge by a beautiful, sweet-smelling maiden or by an ugly, foul-smelling old woman.
The maiden leads the dead safely across the bridge to the Amesha Spenta Good Mind, who carries the dead to paradise. The old woman leads the dead down a bridge that narrows until the departed falls off into the abyss of hell. Zoroastrian hell is reformative; punishments fit the crimes, and souls do not rest in eternal damnation. Hell contains foul smells and evil food, and souls are packed tightly together although they believe they are in total isolation.
In Zoroastrian eschatology , a 3,year struggle between good and evil will be fought, punctuated by evil's final assault. During the final assault, the sun and moon will darken and humankind will lose its reverence for religion, family, and elders.
The world will fall into winter, and Angra Mainyu's most fearsome miscreant, Azi Dahaka , will break free and terrorize the world. The final savior of the world, Saoshyant , will be born to a virgin impregnated by the seed of Zoroaster while bathing in a lake.
Saoshyant will raise the dead — including those in both heaven and hell — for final judgment, returning the wicked to hell to be purged of bodily sin. Next, all will wade through a river of molten metal in which the righteous will not burn. Heavenly forces will ultimately triumph over evil, rendering it forever impotent. Saoshyant and Ahura Mazda will offer a bull as a final sacrifice for all time, and all humans will become immortal.
Mountains will again flatten and valleys will rise; heaven will descend to the moon, and the earth will rise to meet them both. Humanity requires two judgments because there are as many aspects to our being: The Zarathushtri also practice traditional head covering ritual similar to that of Judaism. A Zarathustri is enjoined to cover his head at all times. It is one of the basic disciplines for a Zarathustri.
If you have ever looked at the pictures of Zarathustris from the past, you will recognize them simply because they were wearing cap or turban covering their head. If you read the description of Parsees from the past It is unfortunate that our own community people laugh on us for wearing cap, which is the foundation of all our religion practices.
However, such reactions are seldom seen when a Zarathustri will observe a Muslim or Jew demonstrating their practice of covering head during and out of their prayer area. Some people feel embarrassed to wear in public whereas some remove it to protect their hairstyle. My dear Zarathustris, wearing cap is not imposed upon us but it is a remedy to protect oneself from destructive thought process[es] Zoroastrian communities comprise two main groups of people: According to a survey in by the Zoroastrian Associations of North America, the number of Zoroastrians worldwide was estimated at between , and , The number is imprecise because of wildly diverging counts in Iran.
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