It was during the Achaemenid period that Zoroastrianism reached South-Western Iran, where it came to be accepted by the rulers and through them became a defining element of Persian Empire culture.
The religion was not only accompanied by a formalization of the concepts and divinities of the traditional (Indo-) Iranian pantheon but also introduced several novel ideas, including that of free will.
Under the patronage of the Achaemenid kings, and by the fifth century BCE as the de-facto religion of the state, Persian Zoroastrianism would reach all corners of the empire. See Persian Map above.
During the reign of Artaxerxes I and Darius II, Herodotus wrote "[the Persians] have no images of the gods, no temples nor altars, and consider the use of them a sign of folly. This comes, I think, from their not believing the gods to have the same nature with men, as the Greeks imagine." He claims the Persians offer sacrifice to: "the sun and moon, to the earth, to fire, to water, and to the winds. These are the only gods whose worship has come down to them from ancient times.
At a later period they began the worship of Urania, which they borrowed from the Arabians and Assyrians. Mylitta is the name by which the Assyrians know this goddess, whom the Arabians call Alitta, and the Persians Anahita." (The original name here is Mithra, which has since been explained to be a confusion of Anahita with Mithra, understandable since they were commonly worshipped together in one temple).
Free Persian Map and Persian Bible Maps in Old Testament
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