ABSTRACT

The Achaemenid rule is often perceived by modern scholars as religiously tolerant and nonintrusive, mainly due to the biblical narrative and the Cyrus decree. However, even if the Achaemenids did not impose their beliefs and religious ideology on their subordinates, Achaemenid and Zoroastrian influences seem to have seeped into the religion and cultic practices of peoples under their hegemony. In the southern Levant, dramatic changes to Phoenician cult practices occurred during the Persian period, some of which are consistent with principles of the Zoroastrian faith. Although written sources suggest the Achaemenids did interfere with the cultic practices of various peoples, it seems unlikely that they forced their system of beliefs on the Phoenicians, with whom they maintained good relations. It is, however, more than possible that as part of those warm relations, certain Zoroastrian ideas diffused into Phoenician society bringing about changes to the Phoenicians’ cultic practices.

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