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West Asian mathematics – history of math

By | 2017-09-16T12:05:41+00:00 September 16th, 2017|Science, West Asia|

Sumerian multiplication table (2700 BC) Once people in West Asia figured out how to write down numbers, about 3500 BC, they quickly began to want to use cuneiform to write down other mathematical ideas. The earliest example of this that we have is from about 2700 BC. It shows a multiplication table to help people figure out the area of a space by multiplying width [...]

West Asian science – Mesopotamia and Iran

By | 2017-09-15T23:16:03+00:00 September 15th, 2017|Science, West Asia|

The constellation Orion From the Stone Age through the Islamic empires, great scientific discoveries have streamed out of West Asia. West Asia is one of the places where farming got started, and maybe the sailboat. The Sumerians developed the world's earliest system of writing, including the first way to write down numbers. They invented the wheel, using it as a pottery [...]

Zoroastrianism – Iran – West Asian religion

By | 2017-09-15T21:10:54+00:00 September 15th, 2017|Religion, West Asia|

An Iranian fire sacrifice Around 1000 BC (probably), about the same time that people in India were writing the Rig Veda, a man named Zoroaster (also called Zarathustra) was a priest in a small temple in the eastern part of West Asia, in an area with a lot of small kingdoms and no major power. Zoroaster believed that he heard [...]

What is Nowruz? Zoroastrians – West Asian holidays

By | 2017-09-15T21:02:31+00:00 September 15th, 2017|Religion, West Asia|

Persepolis may have been built in the 500s BC as a place to celebrate Nowruz. Zoroastrianism became much more popular suddenly when the Persian kings became Zoroastrians around 550 BC. Soon after that, Zoroastrian worshippers began to celebrate the first day of spring as an important holiday. That was the first day of their New Year. Nowruz is [...]

Who was Mithra? Zoroastrian god – West Asian religion

By | 2017-09-15T18:47:08+00:00 September 15th, 2017|Religion, West Asia|

Ardashir II becomes the Persian king, in the center, with Mithra and Ahura Mazda by his side (Taq-e Bostan, Iran, 300s AD) (They're trampling on the Roman Empire Julian.) Mithra was the most important Zoroastrian god on the side of Truth. He was the god of contracts and keeping your promises, like the German god Tyr. [...]

Who is Astarte? West Asian religion

By | 2017-09-15T16:40:05+00:00 September 15th, 2017|Religion, West Asia|

Astarte in the Late Bronze Age As early as about 3000 BC, Astarte was a Semitic goddess of love and fertility. People worshipped her in Mesopotamia and in the Levant. Like the Roman goddess Venus or the Greek goddess Aphrodite, Astarte started out as the goddess of the evening star. (And soon West Asian astronomers realized that the evening star [...]

Who was Ahura Mazda? Zoroastrianism – West Asian religion

By | 2017-09-15T16:31:31+00:00 September 15th, 2017|Religion, West Asia|

Ahura Mazda, from the Louvre museum in Paris About 1500 BC, people in India and Iran worshipped a god they called Ahura Mazda. Ahura Mazda (ah-HOO-rah-MAHZ-dah) was probably an Indo-European god originally. He is probably related to the Hindu god Varuna, and to the god Mithra. But the relationship between these three is not at all clear: is Ahura Mazda [...]

West Asian people – families, schools, slavery

By | 2017-09-15T14:13:10+00:00 September 15th, 2017|People, West Asia|

Ur-Nanshe, the king's chief musician in Mari, 2400s BC What we notice most about the way people lived in West Asia is the widespread oppression of women. As compared to their neighbors in Sudan, Egypt, Central Asia, the Roman Empire, or even India, West Asian women were much less likely to become rulers. [...]

Vis and Ramin – Iran – West Asian stories

By | 2017-09-15T10:34:22+00:00 September 15th, 2017|Literature, West Asia|

A Parthian noblewoman This is a story from the Parthian Empire, but the earliest written version that we still have is by the Islamic poet Gorgani, about 1050 AD: King Mobad of Marv saw the beautiful Queen Shahru, and asked her to marry him, but she was already married. Instead, Queen Shahru promised to send King Mobad her daughter to marry, [...]

Sohrab and Rustem – Iran – West Asian stories

By | 2017-09-15T10:29:49+00:00 September 15th, 2017|Literature, West Asia|

The death of Sohrab (Iranian painting) This story is probably an old Indo-European story that Persian people told even before they moved south into Iran about 2000 BC. It's probably related to the German story of Hildebrand and the Greek story of Achilles and Penthesileia, though sometimes Rustem is also a trickster like Odysseus, or like the Indian Krishna (you may want to compare [...]