Religious faiths were important in the growth of ancient civilizations. It was a significant bridge between how empires, states, and people interact. Central Asia was no exception. Believes and religious growth between the sixth century B.C. and the sixth century A.D. recreated a valuable role in the cultural and political shifts. 

Zoroastrianism is one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions. It was launched by the Prophet Zoroaster (or Zarathustra) in ancient Iran approximately 3500 years ago. Zoroastrianism belief, spread through the territory of ancient Iran and Central Asia in the 7thc.-6thc. BC. 

Zoroaster, or Zardusht, Zarathustra, Zardust, is the prophet of Zoroastrianism. Zoroaster lived about in the 1st half of the 6th c. BC. He wrote the numerous ancient part of the holy book of Zoroastrianism “Avesta”. It is believed that Zoroaster began preaching in Eastern Iran and Central Asia. He opposed worshiping chiefs of the tribes, priesthood, and old gods. According to oriental legends, Zoroaster lived and preached in Bactria when King Vishtasp ruled there. The king was the first to adopt Zoroastrianism.

Zoroastrianism - ancient religion practiced in Central Asia

The geographical situation of Central Asia at the crossroads of major cultural routes also committed to this power. Zarathustra’s statement, predating Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, also focused on the uncreated God, Ahura Mazda, creator of all things, and hypotheses on paradise and hell. 

In the mid-20th century, the Russian archeologist and orientalist S.P.Tolstov studied the ancient monuments dating from the mid-1st millennium B.C. and concluded that Zoroastrianism had originated in the ancient Khorezm. Today this idea is shared by numerous distinguished scholars. To date, were found 63 Zoroastrian monuments, including those in Iran, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Thirty-eight of them are in Uzbekistan, whereas 17 of these monuments are located in Khorezm.

Uzbekistan's holy Zoroastrianism sites

Chilpik - Zoroastrian funerary tower

Chilpik is a 2,200-year-old hollow tower that sits a top a vast, arid land. It once lay next to the Amu Darya river that fed the mighty Aral Sea (the river has since moved away). 

Chilpik was a dakhmo, a Zoroastrian funerary tower, mirroring the dakmo in Mumbai. It was likely closed off for the exclusive use of the nobility. From around the second century or so—the structures are so ancient and under-studied that it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when—elaborately costumed barges snaking down the river brought the dead here, where the bodies were then laid prone to the elements. The remains would then be enshrined in tomb-like ossuaries. Read more

Ming Urik - ancient settlement

The Museum of the ancient settlement “Ming Urik” is one of the outstanding ancient objects of Tashkent from the era of Zoroastrianism. 

During its time Ming Urik was densely populated flourishing city with its walls, great architecture, urban life and craftsmen. There was also a fortress citadel in the city, which served as protection during attacks. Some of the strongest buildings have survived to this day and can be seen at the site. According to Arab historians, there was a richly decorated palace in the city with a sacred fire always burning inside it. It was an important symbol of Zoroastrianism which was the dominant religion in the area until the 10th century AD when Zoroastrianism was replaced by Islam. 


Noruz - Zoroastian New Year

Noruz also known as Jamshedi or Jamshidi Noruz is the seventh compulsory feast and is dedicated to fire. It is the Zoroastrian New Year celebration and occurs on the spring equinox. Noruz is profoundly rooted in Iranian and Central Asian culture and it is still celebrated as the Iranian New Year in Islamic Iran as well as in Central Asia. Many fires are lit and there is feasting and celebrations. In modern times fireworks have also become part of the festivities.

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