In the previous section we made mention of Zoroastrianism and Mani. But who were they? Zoroastrianism gets its name from Zoroaster who may have lived as early as 1000 BCE. Or he may have been a contemporary of either Buddha or Confucius. What we know of his teachings are to be found in the Zend Avesta. Zoroastrianism would appear to have been dualistic in that there were two opposing gods. One good, the other bad. While there do not appear to have been any sacred images, there were priests and temples, as well as alters upon which to burn sacred fires and perform ceremonial sacrifices. Among the distinctive features of the religion was a prohibition against either the burning or the burial of the dead.
Since the days of Cyrus onward, Zoroastrianism had been one of the dominant faiths of the region surrounding Persia. With the advent of the Sassanid Empire in 226 CE, it became the primary faith of the region. Only Judaism, Christianity and Manichaeism were able to hold on in the face of an expanding Zoroastrianism, once the Sassanids came into power.
Manichaeism which had its beginning with the first teachings of Mani in 242 CE, and was able to freely develop as a result of Mani's friendship with Sapor I. With Sapor's support, Mani and his missionaries were able to spread the faith as far east as China, and as far south as India. However all that changed when Bahram I came to the throne in 273, and had Mani imprisoned for subsequent execution.
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The Outline of History, H.G. Wells