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Yamamoto, Y. (1978) The Zoroastrian temple cult of fire in archaeology and literature. MPhil thesis. SOAS University of London.

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Abstract

Zoroastrians have long been called 'fire-worshippers'; but the question remains why only they should be termed so, since veneration of fire has been a wide-spread custom in the world, and since moreover the Zoroastrians themselves venerate not only fire, but other natural objects also. The particular characteristics of the Zoroastrian veneration of fire can be defined as follows: first, because they emphasize the purity of fire, they avoid as far as possible any contamination even of the hearth-fire. Second, they place a sacred fire, especially established and perpetually maintained, in a temple, and make offerings of three kinds, fuel, incense and fat, to it itself. However, if these particularities are considered as reasons for naming Zoroastrians 'fire-worshippers', the second one needs to be re-examined, for Zoroaster himself did not mention temple fires, and the concept of the temple fire is not found even in the later Avesta. According to Greek writers, the Persians in early Achaemenian times appear not to have had a temple cult. Nevertheless, some time in the fourth century B.C., possibly in the reign of Artaxerxes II, the temple cult of fire seems to have been established, perhaps in reaction to the image cult of Anahita. Since that time, the temple cult of fire has occupied a central part in Zoroastrian observance. The development of this cult can be traced from archaeological evidence, such as surviving fire altars and their representations on seals, coins and tomb-reliefs, and also from temple remains. There is also the evidence of the Pahlavi books, and the living Zoroastrian tradition.

Item Type: Theses (MPhil)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 14:58
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/28490

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