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From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" 
Subject: Re: (urth) latro and ares
Date: Thu, 08 May 2003 14:12:43 -0700

>"Zarathustra began his prophetic mission about the middle of the sixth 
>century...." Olmstead, HIstory of Persian Empire, p. 94. I.e., ca. 550BC. I 
>think this is pretty much the consensus these days.

Not, at any rate, among Zoroastrians. H'mmm. A bit more research
is called for here.

Okay, here's one answer, from avesta.org:

>According to Bruce Lincoln,
>"At present, the majority opinion among scholars probably inclines toward 
>the end of the second millennium or the beginning of the first, although 
>there are still those who hold for a date in the seventh century." (Death, 
>War, and Sacrifice, 1991, pg 150)
>Humbach and Ichaporia seem to favor the Xanthos date of 1080 BC but mention 
>the 630 date also. (Heritage, 1994, pg 11).
>A commonly given date is the seventh century B.C.E. I think Boyce has 
>convincingly shown the seventh century date to be an error. Humbach also 
>discounts the basis of this calculation in his Gathas 1991 (pg 30). Boyce 
>has wavered on an actual date: between 1400 and 1000 BC (1975), between 
>1700 and 1500 (1979), around 1400 BC (1988), between 1500 BC & 1200 BC 
>"with the latter more likely" (1992).

From w-z-o.org:

>THE founder of Zoroastrianism, Zarathushtra, or Zoroaster as
>the Greeks rendered the name, cannot be ascribed any
>precise date and dating is a hotly contested issue. Academic
>opinion, which bases its case on linguistic analysis of the oldest
>texts, suggests a date roughly around 1500 BCE. Other
>suggestions, based on Greek sources, arrive at dates as far
>apart as 6000 BCE and the sixth century BCE.

More detail from pyrecantha.com:

>No one knows where or when the Prophet was born. Some legends place his 
>birth in western Iran, perhaps near Tehran; others, which are somewhat more 
>likely due to the eastern Iranian language of his poetry, place his 
>birthplace in the east. As for the date of his birth, it has been since 
>ancient times a matter of controversy. Greek sources placed him as early as 
>6000 B.C., a reckoning derived from poorly transmitted Zoroastrian legends; 
>few if any scholars take that date seriously. The traditional Zoroastrian 
>date for Zarathushtra's birth and ministry is around 600 B.C. This is 
>derived from a Greek source that places him "300 years before Alexander" 
>which would give that date; other rationales for the 600 BC date identify 
>the King Vishtaspa of Zarathushtra's Gathas with the father of the Persian 
>King Darius, who lived around that time.
>As the linguists of both Europe and India worked on the Gathas, however, it 
>became clear that the language of the Gathas attributed to Zarathushtra was 
>far older than the language spoken in Iran at the time of King Darius' 
>father. Gathic Avestan was very close to the Sanskrit of the Indian 
>Rig-Vedas, which can be dated from the period 1500-1200 BC. This would mean 
>that Zarathushtra lived far earlier than the "traditional" date. Some 
>scholars have said that the 600 BC date is still plausible if Gathic 
>Avestan was actually an artificially preserved sacred language, somewhat 
>like Latin, which continued in literature and rituals thousands of years 
>after it had ceased to be spoken.
>Recent work by Martin Schwartz and Almut Hintze tends to discount this 
>theory, as the linguists show that the Gathas are not the work of an 
>academic writing in a dead language; they show all the signs of poetry 
>composed and recited in an oral tradition, similar to the heroic poetry of 
>Homer or the Rig-Vedas. These studies would confirm the earlier date for 
>The problem of Zarathushtra's time will never be solved, unless some 
>improbable archaeological find turns up. Most scholars agree on a 
>time-frame for Zarathushtra which could be as early as 1700 B.C. or as late 
>as 1000 B.C.

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