Origin of Fire Temples and the Achaemenid Domination in Central Asia

Recorded: July 5, 2023
Event: Achaemenid Workshop 2
Citation: Xin, Wu. "Origin of Fire Temples and the Achaemenid Domination in Central Asia." Pourdavoud Institute: Achaemenid Workshop 2 (July 5, 2023).

by Wu Xin (Fudan University)

This paper investigates the early development of the Zoroastrian fire temples in Central Asia. Utilizing the latest archaeological discoveries in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, the paper argues that Central Asia witnessed the initial development of fire temples. Such development likely started before the Achaemenid period; and the Persian domination over the region may have increased the pace towards the institutionalization of fire temples. The paper delves into the construction history of the religious structure at Kyzyltepa, which is perhaps one of the earliest examples of fire temples, to reveal the process through which fire temples were established. By placing the temple in its historical and political context, the paper suggests that the Achaemenid imperial participation may have played an important role in the origin and early development of the Zoroastrian fire temples.

About the Speaker

Wu Xin is a professor in the Department of History at Fudan University in Shanghai, who received her PhD in the Department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania in 2005. With a background in Central Asian art, history, and archaeology, Wu Xin’s research interests include the interactions and connectivity between Iran and the East, covering topics such as warfare, nomads, administrative and religious practices of the Achaemenid Empire. Since 2010, she has been co-directing, with Leonid Sverchkov, a joint archaeological project at Kyzyltepa, an Achaemenid to Hellenistic period site in southern Uzbekistan. Wu Xin is currently working on a monograph entitled “Persia and the East”.