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The Achaemenid Religion

Comparing sources
p. 46
Cet article est une traduction de :
La religion des Achéménides - confrontation des sources

Notes de la rédaction

Source: La lettre, no. 38, June 2014

Texte intégral

1In autumn 2013, the Chair of Indo-Iranian Languages and Religions organized a symposium on the Achaemenid religion, in collaboration with Pierre Briant and Wouter Henkelman.

PFS 11*: with authorization from the Persepolis Seal Project Céline Redard

2This subject was widely debated in the 1970s, yet it is worth reconsidering, in view of recent advances in both the content and the understanding of the available material. We have only two ancient Iranian corpuses: the Achaemenid documents (including the royal inscriptions in Old Persian, the Elamite tablets and the Greek authors’ accounts), and the Avesta. The Achaemenids came to power in 521-522 BCE; however the Avestan corpus, which corresponds only to a liturgical recitative, yields no historical knowledge. We also know only that the latter was composed in eastern Iran before being disseminated at an unknown date. Although these are two very different kinds of corpus, obvious parallels can be drawn regarding their content, such as the name of the supreme god Ahura Mazd (op. auramazd, av. ahura mazd), for example, or the condemning of demons (op. daiva, av. dauua “demon” against deva “god”). These facts call for an examination of the question as to the relationship between the Achaemenids and the Avesta, particularly in light of the renewed representation of the Avesta, and of recent advances in the understanding of Elamite material. Studying the Achaemenid religion consequently requires an understanding of the diversity of the abovementioned sources, through an interdisciplinary approach articulating Assyriology, Elamology, Iranology, archaeology and iconography. This symposium was therefore dedicated to comparing both sources and disciplines, as shown in the programme. The presentations were followed by particularly enriching scientific discussions, which further developed the researchers’ reflection whilst highlighting the fact that new questions are emerging and research has to be undertaken if we are to be able to answer them.


Beyond Auramazda and the Winged Symbol:
Imagery of the Divine and the Numinous at Persepolis
Mark Garrison, Trinity University, Texas

The Iconographic Convergence between God
and the King in Achaemenid Art
Bruno Jacobs, Basel University, Switzerland

State Cult and Royal Ideology of the Neo-Assyrian Empire
as a Structuring Model for Achaemenid Imperial Religion
Salvatore Gaspa, Copenhaguen University, Denmark

The Royal Babylonian Culture during the Achaemenid Era
Gauthier Tolini, ArScAn-HAROC

Considerations on the Avesta and the Achaemenids
Alberto Cantera, Salamanca University, Spain

The Achaemenids between Avestan Texts and Liturgy
Jean Kellens, Collège de France

Of Gods and Men in the Persepolis Bronze Plaquee
Gian Pietro Basello, Naples Eastern University, Italy

Humban and Auramazda: Royal Gods in a Persian Landscape
Wouter Henkelman, EPHE / Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Berlin

“How Median were the Medes”?
Status of a long Debated Question
Adriano V. Rossi, Naples Eastern University, Italy

Religious Aspects in the Aramaic Texts from Bactria
Jan Tavernier, Leuven Catholic University, Belgium

Reflections on the Elusive Archaeological Evidence
of the Religion of the Achaemenids
Pierfrancesco Callieri, Bologna University, Italy

Sogdian Sanctuaries of the Achaemenid Era
(Koktepe and Sangir-tepe)
Claude Rapin, ENS/CNRS

The Persian Mazdeism and the Origin of the Avesta
Antonio Panaino, Bologna University, Italy

Languages, Peoples, Religions, and Sources: Problems of Identity and Tradition in Achaemenid Zoroastrianism
Albert de Jong, Leiden University, The Netherlands

Historiographic Conclusion
Clarisse Herrenschmidt, CNRS/Collège de France

• Videos of the symposium are available at, on Prof. Jean Kellens’s page.

• The papers will be published in Prof. Pierre Briant’s collection “Persika”/Collège de France.

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Légende PFS 11*: with authorization from the Persepolis Seal Project Céline Redard
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Référence électronique

Céline REDARD, « The Achaemenid Religion », La lettre du Collège de France [En ligne], 9 | 2015, mis en ligne le 28 septembre 2015, consulté le 12 décembre 2017. URL :

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