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On the Zoroastrian Temple Cult of Fire

Mary Boyce
Journal of the American Oriental Society
Vol. 95, No. 3 (Jul. - Sep., 1975), pp. 454-465
DOI: 10.2307/599356
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/599356
Page Count: 12
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On the Zoroastrian Temple Cult of Fire
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Abstract

This is a review article of a comprehensive and valuable work by Dr. Klaus Schippmann on the fire temples of ancient Iran. In the article it is suggested that the study of such sanctuaries is more complex than has hitherto been supposed, because the existence of an image as well as a fire cult among the Zoroastrians meant that from Achaemenian times they had in fact two different types of sacred buildings, not readily distinguishable from one another. The image cult, introduced apparently in the 4th century B. C., lasted until suppressed by an iconoclastic movement under the Sasanians. It is argued that the cult of temple fires was instituted in opposition to this alien form of worship, probably also in the 4th century, and it is pointed out that no actual ruins of a fire temple have been convincingly identified from before the Parthian period. The antecedents of the temple cult are sought in the older veneration of the hearth fire, and some of its developments are pursued in an attempt to provide a clearer background for the study of the archaeological remains. Finally from among the fairly numerous ruins of the Sasanian period those of the great temple of Ādar Gušnasp are considered, and a new identification is offered of the site there of the fire sanctuary itself.

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