The high-priest of Zoroastrianism, Kartir Hangirpe, believed that he represented the one true religion. He was an absolutist, believing that there was good and evil, with nothing in between. Into the later half of the 200s CE, he continued with his persecution of competing religions: the Manichaeans, Christians, Jews and Buddhists. Then, sometime during the reign of Bahram II (276-293), Kartir died, and religious tolerance began to reassert itself. Continue reading More Persecutions during Sassanid Rule
The Zoroastrian priesthood had endured rule by Parthians, and they had suffered from a prevalence of religions that were not Persian in origin. The founder of the Sassanid dynasty, Ardashir, took power in 224 CE, and his rule pleased the Zoroastrian priesthood. Ardashir allied himself with Zorastrianism. He announced that religion and kingship were brothers and said his rule was the will of God. The Zoroastrian priesthood felt empowered, and they looked forward to converting non-Zoroastrians who lived within Ardashir’s empire. Continue reading The Zoroastrian Priesthood Elevated by Sassanid State
Egypt had one of the first organized governments. Before Upper and Lower Egypt were united, each area was ruled by a king. In 3100 BC, after the country was united into a centralized system of government, it was then divided into 42 nomes, or regions. A governor ruled each region but had to obey the pharaoh.
The pharaoh was the highest authority and had total power over the people. The pharaoh controlled the executive and judicial branches of government and was assisted by many appointed civil servants. When selecting these aides, the pharaoh had to follow the legal rules of seniority and literacy.
Government officials in the Old Kingdom held positions such as the Royal Courtiers, Advisors, Councilors, and Ministers. The Royal Court’s status grew over time and covered religious, civil, judicial, and military duties. The Advisor was the highest official in the state, but not a member of the government’s higher Council. The Council was comprised of senior state officials who enforced legislation and royal decrees and later assumed judiciary functions. The Minister was the head of the judges. Continue reading The Governmental System In Ancient Egypt
The First Charter of Human Rights
By 546 BCE, Cyrus had defeated Croesus, the Lydian king of fabled wealth, and had secured control of the Aegean coast of Asia Minor, Armenia, and the Greek colonies along the Levant. Moving east, he took Parthia (land of the Arsacids, not to be confused with Parsa, which was to the southwest), Chorasmis, and Bactria. He besieged and captured Babylon in 539 and released the Jews who had been held captive there, thus earning his immortalization in the Book of Isaiah. When he died in 529, Cyrus’s kingdom extended as far east as the Hindu Kush in present-day Afghanistan. Continue reading Achaemenid Empire
Fall of Assyria’s Empire and Rise of the Moses Legend
Assyria’s great empire lasted no longer than would the empires that began in the late nineteenth century — about seventy-five years. Assyria weakened itself economically by continuous wars to maintain its empire, including defending against invasions by an Indo-European tribal people, the Cimmerians, who came upon the Assyrians from the northeast. The Assyrians spent themselves expanding into Egypt and in quelling the rebellions of Egyptian princes. The Cimmerian menace increased, and more rebellions occurred within the empire. Assyria was burdened by the expense of maintaining its army. Soldiers had to be paid. Massive numbers of horses had to be cared for and fed. Siege engines had to be moved against rebellious cities. Continue reading Zoroastrians and Judaism
Bahram II and Narseh
The Persian Emperor Bahram died the same year as Mani — in 276 — and was succeeded by his son, Bahram II. The priest Kartir remained a dominant figure under Bahram II. The persecution of Manichaeans (Manicheans) continued and included the persecution of Christians, Jews and Buddhists. Then, sometime during the reign of Bahram II, Kartir died, and religious tolerance began to reassert itself. Bahram II was relatively tolerant. He had been influenced by his grandfather, Shapur I. He had become acquainted with Hellenistic culture and was offended by the zealotry of the Zoroastrians. As with the autocracies before, freedom to worship depended upon the whim of the ruler, and for awhile persecution was lifted from the Manichaeans, Christians and Jews. Continue reading Ancient Iran : The Sassanid