Zoroastrianism is an ancient pre-Islamic religion of Persia that has survived in remote regions, mostly in India. This religion is also referred to as Parsiism. The descendants of Zoroastrian Persian migrants are called Parsees or Parsis. Zoroastrianism was founded by Persian reformer and prophet Zoroaster, and it contains both dualistic and monotheistic features.
Possibly, Zoroastrianism led to the growth of Judaism as well as the birth of Christianity. The followers of Zoroastrianism believed in the cosmic struggle between wrong and right, monotheism, pre-eminence of ethical choice in the human life, and celestial hierarchy of spiritual beings (archangels, angels) mediating between God and people.
Zoroastrianism became the official religion of the Achaemenid Empire and later flourished under its successors, the Sassanid and Parthian Empires. In the Achaemenid Empire, the religion was regulated by the Magi, who were described by Herodotus as the Median tribe with unique customs. These customs included fighting with evil animals, exposing the dead, and interpreting dreams.
In the Sassanid Empire, Zoroastrianism clearly explained the distinctions from practices presented in the Zoroastrian holy book known as the Avesta. The king appointed High Priest as his Deputy. As a rule, the clergy used religion for their own benefit, leading to great religious unease. In the Empire, conversations to Zoroastrianism were made to stop the spread of Christianity.
- The Mauryan and Gupta Empires
Both the Mauryan and Gupta Empires were located in modern-day India. The Mauryan Empire had a larger area than the Gupta Empire since the latter occupied only the top part of India, while the former stretched from the top of the country to almost the peninsula’s bottom.
In the Mauryan Empire, the social structure was determined by occupation rather than birth. The classes included magistrates, craftsmen, herdsmen, soldiers, farmers, and philosophers. Like in the Mauryan Empire, the Gupta Empire’s social classes were also determined by occupation, although they had other names. They were divided into Vaishyas (merchants and landowners), Brahmans (working men), Shudras, and Kshatriyas. The Kshatriyas were mostly rajasic, endowed with a fighting and passionate spirit used for the protection of dharma (Brahmins’ knowledge) as well as the people. They were the kings, rulers, politicians, soldiers, upholders of the law, and police. The Shudras were a mixture of rajas, tamas, and the working class such as artisans and laborers. Unlike the Mauryan Empire, in the Gupta Empire women had lower status than men and obeyed them. In both Empires, governments were subordinate to emperors. The Mauryan Empire’s economy was based on trade and export of exotic foods, spices, silk, and textiles. The Gupta Empire’s economy depended mostly on agriculture, although commerce and trade steadily grew. Unlike the Gupta Empire, the Mauryan Empire did not have so many literary achievements.
- The Kushan Empire versus the Aksumite Empire
The Aksumite Empire was located in Ethiopia and founded by the Semitic-speaking Sabaeans, while the Kushan Empire was located in South Asia and ruled by emperors. Napata and Meroe were the capitals of the Kushan Empire at different periods of time.
The Aksumite Empire’s main export was agricultural products, mainly barley and wheat. Gold, iron, and salt were traded as well. Trade was also the main source of livelihood in the Kushan Empire. The Kushan Empire had diplomatic relations with Sassanid Persia, the Aksumite as well as Roman Empires, and China. Like in the Aksumite Empire, science, art, and philosophy were popular within the borders of the Kushan Empire. Before conversion to Christianity, people in the Aksumite Empire practiced polytheistic religion, while the Kushans predominantly believed in Zoroastrianism, later adopting the elements of Buddhism. The Aksumite Empire started to decline in the seventh century, and the population was made to go farther to the highlands. It was finally defeated around 950. The Kushan Empire declined when emperor Vasudeva 1 died in 225, splitting the Empire into eastern and western halves.
- African Languages
African languages include Afro-Asiatic, Nilo-Saharan, Khoisan, and Niger-Congo groups. The Afro-Asiatic group consists of over 300 living dialects and languages spoken by 300 million people across the Horn of Africa, North Africa, and Southwest Asia. The Nilo-Saharan group is rather diverse and includes over a hundred languages. They are not spoken within a continuous geographical region and are interspersed with other language groups.
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The Niger-Congo group is the largest African language group. It consists of 1,436 dialects and languages. The territory within which these languages are spoken stretches from Senegal east to Mombasa in Kenya and south to Cape Town in South Africa. The Khoisan group covers about 30 languages that are spoken by around 350,000 people.
The “Bantu Expansion” was a series of migrations of the Bantus, originally from the Congo basin to other countries of southern and eastern Africa, like Tanzania and Kenya, due to the population increase, drought, and famine.
- The Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was a type of government that allowed people to elect officials. It was a complex system having the detailed laws and Constitution. It became the basis of modern democracy. The Roman Republic collapsed mainly due to corruption in the government. The power was concentrated in the hands of a select few. Also, unscrupulous leaders made people turn against each other.
As a result, there was political, social, and economic instability in the Empire. Later on, Julius Caesar, a very influential leader, came to power. He was already famous for his strong military leadership. However, fearing the rule of the dictator, the Senate plotted to kill Caesar. Instead of bringing liberty, his death led to the civil war.
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