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The Zoroastrian Texts of Ancient Persia & What They Reveal About Advanced Ancient Civilizations

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Graham Hancock investigates the mysterious religious texts of the Zoroastrians of ancient Persia and the ‘underground cities’ of neighbouring Turkey. Both, he argues, are far older than is presently taught and date back to cataclysmic events near the end of the last Ice Age that destroyed, and all but wiped from human memory, an advanced civilization of prehistory. Below is an excerpt form his work, which you can find HERE. ( A link to his new book, “Magicians of the Gods”)

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You can also check out our extended interview with him here.

Exactly how old Zoroastrianism is has not yet been satisfactorily established by scholars, since even the lifetime of its prophet Zarathustra (better known as Zoroaster) is uncertain. Indeed, as Columbia University’s authoritative Encyclopedia Iranica admits: ‘Controversy over Zarathustra’s date has been an embarrassment of long standing to Zoroastrian studies.’[i]

The Greek historians were amongst the first to address themselves to the matter. Plutarch, for example, tells us that Zoroaster ‘lived 5,000 years before the Trojan War’[ii] (itself a matter of uncertain historicity but generally put at around 1300 BC, thus 5,000 plus 1,300 = 6300 BC). A similar chronology is given by Diogenes Laertius, who relates that Zoroaster lived ‘6,000 years before Xerxes’ Greek campaign’[iii] (i.e. around 6480 BC). More recent scholars have proposed dates as far apart as 1750 BC and ‘258 years before Alexander’[iv] (i.e. around 588 BC). Whatever the truth of the matter, it is agreed that Zoroaster himself borrowed from much earlier traditions and that Zoroastrianism, therefore, like many other religions, has roots that extend very far back into prehistory.

In the Zoroastrian scriptures known as the Zend Avesta certain verses in particular are recognized as drawing on these very ancient oral traditions.[v] The verses speak of a primordial father figure called Yima, the first man, the first king, and the founder of civilization, and appear in the opening section of the Zend Avesta, known as the Vendidad. There we read how the god Ahura Mazda created the first land, ‘Airyana Vaejo, by the good river Daitya,’[vi] as a paradise on earth and how ‘the fair Yima, the great shepherd… was the first mortal’ with whom Ahura Mazda chose to converse, instructing him to become a preacher.[vii] Yima refused, at which the god said:

Since thou wantest not to be the preacher and the bearer of my law, then make my world thrive, make my world increase; undertake thou to nourish, to rule and to watch over my world.[viii]

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To this Yima agreed, at which the god presented him with a golden ring and a poniard – a long, tapered thrusting knife – inlaid with gold. Significantly, for we will see in Chapter Seventeen there are close parallels to this story as far away as the Andes mountains of South America, Yima then:

‘pressed the earth with the golden ring and bored it with the poniard.’[ix]

By this act, we learn he ‘made the earth grow larger by one third than it was before,’ a feat that over the course of thousands of years he repeated twice more – in the process eventually doubling the land area available for ‘the flocks and herds with men and dogs and birds,’ who gathered unto him ‘at his will and wish, as many as he wished.’[x]

Anatomically modern humans like ourselves have existed, so far as we know, for a little less than two hundred thousand years (the earliest anatomically modern human skeleton acknowledged by science is from Ethiopia and dates to 196,000 years ago).[xi] Within this timespan there has only been one period when those parts of the earth that are useful to humans increased dramatically in size, and that was during the last Ice Age, between 100,000 and 11,600 years ago. Indeed, previously submerged lands totalling 27 million square kilometres – equivalent to the area of Europe and China added together – were exposed by lowered sea-levels at the last glacial maximum 21,000 years ago. While it is probably far-fetched to suppose that it is this very real increase of useful land that is referred to in the Yima story, or that it has anything to do with the golden age that Yima’s benign rule supposedly achieved in Airyana Vaejo,[xii] it is interesting to note what happened next.

After another immense span of time, we read, Yima was summoned to ‘a meeting place by the good river Daitya’ where the god Ahura Mazda appeared to him bearing an ominous warning of sudden and catastrophic climate change:

O fair Yima, upon the material world the fatal winters are going to fall, that shall bring the fierce, foul frost; upon the material world the fatal winters are going to fall that shall make snowflakes fall thick, even on the highest tops of mountains…

Therefore make thee a Vara [a hypogeum, or underground enclosure] long as a riding ground on every side of the square, and thither bring the seeds of sheep and oxen, of men, of dogs, of birds, and of red blazing fires… Thither thou shalt bring the seeds of men and women of the greatest, best and finest kinds on this earth; thither shalt thou bring the seeds of every kind of cattle, of the greatest, best and finest kinds on this earth. Thither shalt thou bring the seeds of every kind of tree, of the greatest, best and finest kinds on this earth; thither shalt thou bring the seeds of every kind of fruit, the fullest of food and sweetest of odour. All those seeds shalt thou bring, two of every kind, to be kept inexhaustible there, so long as those men shall stay in the Vara. There shall be no humpbacked, none bulged forward there; no impotent, no lunatic… no leprous.[xiii]

So… you get the idea? This underground hideaway was to serve as a refuge from a terrible winter that was about to seize Airyana Vaejo – a winter not of a single season but of a millennium, at the onset of which, as the Bundahish, another Zoroastrian text, informs us:

the evil spirit… sprang like a snake out of the sky down to the earth… He rushed in at noon, and thereby the sky was as shattered and frightened by him as a sheep by a wolf. He came onto the water which was arranged below the earth, and then the middle of this earth was pierced and entered by him… He rushed out upon the whole creation and he made the world quite as injured and dark at midday as though it were dark night.[xiv]

Studying these accounts I couldn’t help but be reminded of the two millennia of gentle global warming that began about 15,000 years ago in the closing millennia of the last Ice Age – a sustained, balmy period of warm, fine weather – before the sudden lethal onset 12,800 years ago of a period of dramatic climate instability that geologists call ‘the Younger Dryas.’ This epoch has long been recognized as mysterious and tumultuous and it is only in the last decade that scientists have been able to pinpoint its cause. To cut a long story short, what the science indicates is that 12,800 years ago a comet travelling on an orbit that took it through the inner solar system broke up into multiple fragments, and that many of these fragments, some more than a mile (2.4 kilometers) in diameter, hit the earth with globally cataclysmic effects. An area of more than 50 million square kilometers, stretching from North America in the west to Syria in the east, was affected and a vast cloud of dust was thrown into the upper atmosphere that enshrouded the earth, preventing the sun’s rays from reaching the surface and thus initiating Younger Dryas.

At that point, 12,800 years ago, the earth had been emerging from the Ice Age for roughly 10,000 years, global temperatures were rising steadily, and the ice caps were melting. Then came the comet impacts, bringing a sudden catastrophic return to colder conditions – even colder than at the peak of the Ice Age 21,000 years ago. This short, sharp deep freeze lasted for 1,200 years until 11,600 years ago when the warming trend resumed, global temperatures shot up again, and the remaining ice caps melted very suddenly, dumping all the water they contained into the oceans.

When the Zoroastrian texts speak of a ‘fierce, foul frost’ and of ‘a fatal winter,’ is it possible that they are describing conditions during the Younger Dryas? The texts attribute the shocking change of climate to a supernatural agency – Angra Mainyu, the demon of darkness, destruction, wickedness, and chaos who stands in opposition to and seeks to undermine and undo all the works of Ahura Mazda, the God of Light. Zoroastrianism is a profoundly dualistic religion in which human beings and the choices we make for good or evil are seen as the objects of an eternal competition, or contest, between the opposed forces of darkness and light. And in this contest the darkness sometimes wins. Thus the Vendidad reminds us that although Airyana Vaejo was ‘the first of the good lands and countries’ created by Ahura Mazda, it could not resist the evil one:

Thereupon came Angra Mainyu, who is all death, and he counter-created by his witchcraft the serpent in the river, and winter, a work of the demons… [Now] there are ten winter months there, two summer months, and these are cold for the waters, cold for the earth, cold for the trees. Winter falls there, with the worst of its plagues.[xv]

In other translations the phrase ‘the serpent in the river, and winter’ is given as ‘a great serpent and Winter’ and, alternatively, as ‘a mighty serpent and snow.’[xvi]

Again… you get the idea. The metaphor that is being repeatedly driven home here is that of the mighty serpent who springs from the sky down to the earth, who penetrates the earth, and who brings a prolonged winter upon the world so severe that it is ‘dark’ (‘most turbid, opaque’ according to some translations[xvii]) at midday, and even the fleeting summer months are too cold for human life. Once again, the whole scenario seems very accurately to describe the terrible conditions that would have afflicted the world after the Younger Dryas comet spread its trail of destruction across 50 million square kilometers, brought on ‘a vehement destroying frost’ and threw such quantities of dust into the upper atmosphere, together with smoke from the continent-wide wildfires sparked off by airbursts and superheated ejecta, that a turbid, opaque darkness would indeed have filled the skies, reflecting back the sun’s rays and perpetuating something very like a nuclear winter for centuries.

The Zoroastrian texts leave us in no doubt that these conditions posed a deadly threat to the future survival of civilization. It was for this reason that Ahura Mazda came to Yima with his warning and his instruction to build an underground shelter where some remnant of humanity could take refuge, keeping safe the seeds of all animals and plants, until the thousand-year winter had passed and spring returned to the world. Moreover the account reveals very little that seems ‘mythical,’ or that obviously derives from flights religious fancy. Rather the whole thing has about it an atmosphere of hard-headed practical planning that adds a chilling note of veracity.

For example the admonition that deformed, impotent, lunatic, and leprous people should be kept out of the Vara sounds a lot like eugenics, a distasteful policy to be sure, but one that might be implemented if the survival of the human race was at stake and there was limited space available in the refuge. For the same reasons it is not surprising that only the seeds of ‘the greatest, best and finest’ kinds of trees, fruits, and vegetables, those that are ‘fullest of food and sweetest of odour,’ are to be brought to the Vara. Why waste space on anything but the best?

Also, although it is certain that a number of carefully selected people were to be admitted to the Vara, perhaps as caretakers and managers of the project, and as future breeding stock, the emphasis throughout is on seeds – which in the case of human beings would be sperm from the males and eggs from the females. So when we read that the Vara is to be constructed in three subterranean levels, each smaller than the one above, each with its own system of criss-crossing ‘streets,’ it is legitimate to wonder whether some kind of storage system, perhaps with ranks of shelves arranged in cross-crossing aisles, might not really be what is meant here:

In the largest part of the place thou shalt make nine streets, six in the middle part, three in the smallest. To the streets of the largest part thou shalt bring a thousand seeds of men and women; to the streets of the middle part, six hundred; to the streets of the smallest part, three hundred.[xviii]

If it seems fanciful to imagine that we might, in an almost high-tech sense, be looking at the specifications of a seed bank here, then how are we to assess other ‘technological’ aspects of the Vara – for example its lighting system? As well as making a door to the place, and sealing it up with the golden ring already given to him by Ahura Mazda, Yima is also to fashion ‘a window, self-shining within.’[xix] When Yima asks for clarification as to the nature of this ‘self-shining’ window Ahura Mazda tells him cryptically ‘there are uncreated lights and created lights.’ The former are the stars, the moon and the sun, which will not be seen from within the confines of the Vara during the long winter, but the latter are ‘artificial lights’ which ‘shine from below.’[xx]

Yima did as he was instructed and completed the Vara which, thereafter, ‘glowed with its own light.’[xxi] That accomplished, he then:

made waters flow in a bed a mile long; there here he settled birds, by the evergreen banks that bear never-failing food. There he established dwelling places, consisting of a house with a balcony, a courtyard and a gallery…[xxii]

There, too, we are reminded, in accord with the commands of the god,

he brought the seeds of men and women… There he brought the seeds of every kind of tree [and]… every kind of fruit… All those seeds he brought, two of every kind, to be kept inexhaustible there, so long as those men shall stay in the Vara…[xxiii]

Finally, we learn that:

every fortieth year, to every couple two are born, a male and a female. And thus it is for every sort of cattle. And the men in the Vara, which Yima made, live the happiest life.[xxiv]

Interestingly the translator explains, in a footnote drawn from various ancient learned commentaries on the text, that the human inhabitants of the Vara ‘live there for 150 years; some say they never die.’[xxv] Moreover, and particularly intriguing, the births of offspring to every couple do not result from sexual union but ‘from the seeds deposited in the Vara.’[xxvi]

Other hints of a mysterious lost technology connected to Yima include a miraculous cup in which he could see everything that was happening anywhere in the world and a jewelled glass throne (sometimes described as ‘a glass chariot’) that was capable of flight.[xxvii]

Flood & Rain

As well as a climate catastrophe in the form of an overnight reversion to peak Ice Age cold, we also know that the Younger Dryas involved extensive global flooding, as a large fraction of the North American ice cap – directly impacted by at least four of the comet fragments – melted and poured into the world ocean. It is therefore noteworthy that the Zoroastrian texts speak not only of the ‘vehement, destroying frost’ of a global winter but also of a subsequent flood accompanied by heavy precipitation, in which ‘every single drop of rain became as big as a bowl and the water stood the height of a man over the whole of this earth.’[xxviii]

On the other side of the world and much closer to the North American epicentre of the cataclysm, the Popol Vuh, an original document of the ancient Quiche Maya of Guatemala, based on pre-conquest sources, also speaks of a flood and associates it with ‘much hail, black rain and mist, and indescribable cold.’[xxix] It says, in a remarkable echo of the Zoroastrian tradition, that this was a period when ‘it was cloudy and twilight all over the world… The faces of the sun and the moon were covered.’[xxx] Other Maya sources confirm that these strange and terrible phenomena were experienced by mankind ‘in the time of the ancients. The earth darkened… It happened that the sun was still bright and clear. Then, at midday, it got dark…’[xxxi] Sunlight was not seen again ‘until the twenty-sixth year after the flood.’[xxxii]

Returning to the Middle East, the world famous account of the Hebrew patriarch Noah and the great Ark in which he rides out the flood, commands attention. It is obvious that there are many parallels with the story of Yima and his Vara. The Vara, after all, is a means of surviving a terrible and devastating winter which will destroy every living creature by enchaining the earth in a freezing trap of ice and snow. The Ark, likewise, is a means of surviving a terrible and devastating flood which will destroy every living creature by drowning the world in water. In both cases a deity – Ahura Mazda in the case of the Zoroastrian tradition, the God Yahweh in the case of the Hebrew tradition – intervenes to give advance warning to a good and pure man to prepare for the coming cataclysm. In each case the essence of the project is to preserve the seeds, or the breeding pairs, of all life:

And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the Ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.

Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.[xxxiii]

Easily missed, but noteworthy, is the fact that Noah’s Ark, like Yima’s Vara, is to have a ‘window,’ is to be closed with a ‘door,’ and is to consist of three levels:

A window shalt thou make to the Ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.[xxxiv]

Last but not least, there are hints of a lost lighting technology in Noah’s Ark that parallel the references to the ‘artificial lights’ in the Vara. In the legends of the Jews we read that the whole journey of the Ark, ‘during the year of the flood,’ was conducted in darkness both by day and by night:

‘All the time it lasted, the sun and the moon shed no light…’[xxxv]

However just like ‘self-shining window’ of the Vara:

‘The Ark was illuminated by a precious stone, the light of which was more brilliant by night than by day, so enabling Noah to distinguish between day and night.’[xxxvi] 

Underground Cities

Noah’s Ark, as is well known, is said to have ended its journey on the slopes of Mount Ararat, the symbolic heartland of ancient Armenia but now, as a result of wars in the early twentieth century, located within the modern state of Turkey. Turkey, in turn, shares a border with Iran – ancient Persia – from which the accounts of Yima’s Vara come down to us.

It is therefore intriguing that Turkey’s Cappadocia region has a very large number of ancient underground structures hewn out of solid rock and usually, like the Vara, consisting of multiple levels stacked one above the other. These underground ‘cities,’ as they are known, include the eerie and spectacular site of Derinkuyu, which I was able to visit in 2013. Lying beneath a modern town of the same name, eight of its levels are presently open to the public, although further levels remain closed off below and, astonishingly, a subterranean tunnel several kilometres in length connects it to another similar hypogeum at Kaymakli.

Entering Derinkuyu was like crossing some invisible barrier into an unexpected netherworld. One minute I was standing in bright sunshine; the next, after I had ducked into the cool, dank, dimly-lit system of tunnels and galleries (no self-shining windows now; only low wattage electric light), I felt I had been transported to a realm carved out by mythical dwarves at the dawn of time. In places the tunnels are low and narrow so that one must stoop and walk in single file between walls stained and blackened with ancient smoke and overgrown here and there with green mold. At regular intervals, slid back into deep recesses, I passed hulking megalithic doors, shaped like millstones, 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 1.8 meters) in diameter and weighing close to half a ton. These were clearly designed to be rolled out to block access. Stairways and steep ramps led down from level to level and, although all the levels were interconnected, the rolling stone doors could be used to isolate them from one another when needed.

Photo by Santha Faiia

Photo by Santha Faiia

Photo by Santha Faiia

Photo by Santha Faiia

graham3

Photo by Santha Faiia

graham4

Photo by Santha Faiia

I noticed a remarkable system of plunging, sheer-sided ventilation shafts connecting the deepest levels with the surface – and doing so to such good effect that the gusts of fresh air were still palpable 80 meters (260 feet) or more beneath the ground. In some places the passageway I was following would debouch into a junction where tunnels branched off in several directions and more stairways led down to even lower levels. And here and there, now to one side of the passageway, now to the other, sometimes accessed by means of holes cut in the wall, sometimes through full-sized doorways, lay small low-ceilinged grottos in which even a few people sitting together would have felt cramped. But sometimes those doors would lead into interconnected networks of chambers and passages and sometimes they would open out suddenly into lofty halls and spacious rooms with barrel-vault ceilings looming high overhead supported on monolithic columns hewn from the living rock.

The whole place, in short, is a complex and cunning labyrinth on an immense scale – a work of astonishing architectural complexity that would be impressive if it had been built above ground but that is utterly breathtaking when one considers that it all had to be mined, chiselled, hammered, cut and gouged out of the volcanic bedrock. Later, studying a plan, I realised that this vast hypogeum, looking in cross-section like a gigantic rabbit warren, lay underfoot wherever one went in the modern town of Derinkyu; streets beneath streets, rooms beneath rooms, a secret antipodal city of unknown antiquity and of unknown purpose but certainly the produce of immense ingenuity, determination, and skill.

And Derinkuyu is just one of two hundred such subterranean complexes, each containing a minimum of two levels (with around forty containing three levels or more) that have been identified in Turkey in the area between Kayseri and Nevsehir.[xxxvii] Moreover, new discoveries are constantly being made. Derinkuyu itself was found in 1963 after builders renovating the cellar of a modern home broke through to an ancient passageway below. And most recently, in 2014, workers preparing the ground for a new housing project at Nevsehir, an hour’s drive north of Derinkuyu, stumbled upon yet another unsuspected hypogeum. Archaeologists were called in and it was quickly realised that this one was bigger than any others so far known. As Hasan Unver, Mayor of Nevsehir, put it, Derinkuyu and Kaymakli are little more than ‘kitchens’ when compared to the newly-explored site. ‘It is not a known underground city,’ added Mehmet Ergun Turan, head of Turkey’s Housing Development Administration. ‘Tunnel passages of seven kilometres are being discussed. Naturally, when the discovery was made, we stopped the construction we were planning to do in the area.’[xxxviii]

Several commentators immediately speculated that the newly discovered site might be ‘5,000 years old,’[xxxix] but there is no basis for this – or really for any date. All we can say for sure is that the earliest surviving historical mention of Turkey’s underground cities is found in the Anabapsis of the Greek historian Xenophon written in the fourth century AD[xl] – so they are older than that.

But the question is, how much older?

There is no objective way to date structures made entirely of rock. What archaeologists look for, therefore, are organic materials that can be carbon dated. To be useful, however, these organic materials must be excavated from locations – under a megalith that has never been moved, for example, or in the original mortar in a joint between two stone blocks – that allow reasonable deductions to be made about the date the associated structural elements were put in place. In many sites, however, there is the possibility that the intrusion of later organic materials will give a falsely young date, and in some – the underground cities of Turkey being a prime example – no reliable dating can be done. This is because the sites were used, reused, and indeed repurposed, many times down the ages by many different peoples, with organic materials being introduced on every occasion, thus making it impossible to draw any inferences about the epoch of their original construction.

The general view of archaeologists is that the underground structures were originally developed in the 7th or 8th centuries BC by an Indo-European people called the Phrygians who lived in Cappadocia at the time. The theory is that the Phrygians began the project by widening and deepening natural caves and tunnels that already existed in the volcanic rock, making use of the spaces they created for storage and possibly as places of refuge from attackers. By Roman times, with the Phrygians long gone, the inhabitants of the area were Greek-speaking Christians who further developed and expanded the underground caverns, rededicating some of the rooms as chapels and leaving inscriptions in Greek, some of which survive to this day. In the Byzantine era, from the eighth to the twelfth centuries AD, the Eastern Roman Empire was locked in wars with newly Islamicised Arabs and the underground cities became places of refuge again – a function they continued to serve during the Mongol invasions of the fourteenth century AD. Later still, Greek Christians used the cities to escape persecution at the hands of Turkish Muslim rulers, and this practise continued into the twentieth century when the structures finally fell into disuse after the truce and population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1923.[xli]

With such a chequered history it is easy to see why the underground cities cannot be dated using objective archaeological techniques. Moreover the vast effort that went into their excavation out of solid rock, and their sophisticated ventilation systems, speak of powerful long-term motives far beyond the limited and temporary need for shelter from attackers. With this in mind let us consider a scenario in which the Phrygians, favoured for no good reason by archaeologists as the first makers of the cities, were themselves just one of the many later cultures to make use of them. It is perfectly possible that this is the case and, if so, then it is also possible that these extraordinary underground structures might date back to a time long before the Phrygians – perhaps even as far back as the ‘fatal winters’ of the Younger Dryas that set in around 12,800 years ago.

There is no proof of this, of course. Nonetheless Turkish historian and archaeologist Omer Demir, author of Cappadocia: Cradle of History, is of the opinion that Derinkuyu does in fact date back to the Palaeolithic.[xlii] His argument is based partly on the notion that it already existed in Phrygian times,[xliii] partly on stylistic differences between the upper (older) levels and the lower (younger) levels,[xliv] and partly on the fact that marks of the implements used to cut the rock have worn completely away in the upper levels but are still visible in the lower levels:

It is necessary for a long period of time to pass for the chisel marks to disappear. This means that there was quite a time difference between the years of construction of the first stories and the last stories.[xlv]

Demir also suggests that the huge quantities of rock excavated to make the underground city – which are nowhere in evidence in the vicinity today – were dumped into local streams and carried off.[xlvi] In one of these streams, the Sognali, at a distance of 26 kilometers (16 miles) from Derinkuyu, hand-axes, rock-chips, and other Palaeolithic artefacts were found.[xlvii]

The evidence is suggestive at best. I would not want to bet my life or my reputation on it! Nonetheless the scenario that sees Derinkuyu and the other underground cities constructed in the Upper Palaeolithic around 12,800 years ago at the onset of the Younger Dryas has the great merit of no longer leaving us casting about for a motive commensurate with the huge effort involved. We are informed of that motive quite explicitly in the story of Yima. Stated simply the cities are Varas, cut down into the depths of the earth as places of refuge from the horrors of the Younger Dryas which were not limited to the ‘vehement destroying frost’ but – as we know from the cosmic impact spherules and melt-glass found in sediment samples at nearby Abu Hureyra in Syria – also included the terrifying existential threat of bombardment from the skies.

Don’t forget to check out our extended interview with Graham here

REFERENCES

[i] Encyclopaedia Iranica, ‘Zoroaster ii. General Survey’, http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/zoroaster-ii-general-survey

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] R.C. Zaehner, The Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1961, e.g. see page 135: ‘The whole story of Yima’s golden age, his excavation of the Vara, or underground retreat, and his re-emergence to re-people the earth (the last episode occurs only in the Pahlavi books) must belong to a very old stratum of Iranian folklore wholly untouched by the teachings of Zoroaster.’

[vi] J. Darmetester and H.L. Mills, Trans, F. Maz Muller, Ed, The Zend Avesta, Reprint edition by Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi, 1990, Part I, p. 5

[vii] Ibid, p. 11

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] Ibid, p. 13

[x] Ibid

[xi] Reported by Frank Brown and John Fleagle in Nature, 17 February, 2005. And see Scientific American, 17 Feb 2005, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fossil-reanalysis-pushes/

[xii] A golden age in which ‘fields would bear plenty of grass for cattle: now with floods that stream, with snows that melt, it will seem a happy land in the world…’ J. Darmetester and H.L. Mills, Trans, F. Maz Muller, Ed, The Zend Avesta, op.cit., p.16 See also the following passage from the Yasna, cited in R.C. Zaehner, The Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism, op.cit., pp. 92-93: ‘Kingly Yima, of goodly pastures, the most glorious of all men born on earth, like the sun to behold among men, for during his reign he made beasts and men imperishable, he brought it about that the waters and plants never dried up, and that there should be an inexhaustible stock of food to eat. In the reign of Yima the valiant there was neither heat nor cold, neither old age, nor death, nor disease…’ ‘Yima’s golden reign, in which all men were immortal and enjoyed perpetual youth, lasted a full thusand years.’

[xiii] J. Darmetester and H.L. Mills, Trans, F. Maz Muller, Ed, The Zend Avesta, op.cit., pp 15-18

[xiv] E.W. West Trans, F. Max Muller, Ed., Pahlavi Texts, Part I, Reprint Edition, Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi, 1990, p. 17

[xv] J. Darmetester and H.L. Mills, Trans, F. Maz Muller, Ed, The Zend Avesta, op.cit., p. 5

[xvi] Cited in Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, The Arctic Home in the Vedas, Reprint edition by Arktos Media, 2011, p. 254

[xvii] E.W. West Trans, F. Max Muller, Ed., Pahlavi Texts, op.cit., p. 17, note 5

[xviii] J. Darmetester and H.L. Mills, Trans, F. Maz Muller, Ed, The Zend Avesta, op.cit., p. 18

[xix] Ibid

[xx] Ibid, p. 20. See also the US (1898) edition of Darmetester’s translation of the Vendidad, reprinted 1995, edited by Joseph H. Peterson, page 14, Note, 87

[xxi] R.C. Zaehner, The Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism, op.cit., p.135

[xxii] J. Darmetester and H.L. Mills, Trans, F. Maz Muller, Ed, The Zend Avesta, op.cit., p. 20

[xxiii] Ibid

[xxiv] Ibid

[xxv] Ibid, note 5

[xxvi] Ibid, note 4

[xxvii] Encyclopaedia Iranica, op.cit. ‘Jamshid i’ (http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/jamsid-i) and ‘Jamshid ii’ (http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/jamsid-ii)

[xxviii] E.W. West Trans, F. Max Muller, Ed., Pahlavi Texts, op.cit., p. 26

[xxix] Delia Goetz, Sylvanus G. Morley, Adrian Reconis, Trans., Popol Vuh: The Sacred Book of the Ancient Quiche Maya, University of Oklahoma Press, 1991, p. 178.

[xxx] Ibid, p. 93

[xxxi] John Bierhorst, The Mythology of Mexico and Central America, Quill/William Morrow, New York, 1990, p. 41

[xxxii] J. Eric Thompson, Maya History and Religion, University of Oklahoma Press, 1990, p. 333

[xxxiii] Genesis 6: 19-20

[xxxiv] Genesis 6: 16

[xxxv] Louis Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews, The Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia, 1988, Vol I, p. 162

[xxxvi] Ibid

[xxxvii] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derinkuyu_%28underground_city%29

[xxxviii] Hurriyet Daily News, 28 December 2014 (http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/massive-ancient-underground-city-discovered-in-turkeys-nevsehir-.aspx?PageID=238&NID=76196&NewsCatID=375), The Independent, 31 December 2014 (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/vast-5000-yearold-underground-city-discovered-in-turkeys-cappadocia-region-9951911.html).

[xxxix] E.g. see report in The Independent 31 December 2014, op.cit.

[xl] Turkey, Lonely Planet, 2013, p. 478

[xli] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derinkuyu_%28underground_city%29

[xlii] Omer Demir, Cappadocia: Cradle of History, 9th Revised Edition, p. 61

[xliii] For example in Proto-Hittite times up to 2,000 years earlier. See Omer Demir, op.cit., p. 70

[xliv] Ibid, p. 60

[xlv] Ibid, p. 60

[xlvi] Ibid, p. 59

[xlvii] Ibid, p. 61

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We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

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Boy or Girl – Baby Gender Selection Issues

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Some parents have the possibility to opt for gender selection; however, being able to decide whether to have a baby boy or girl is a controversial issue.

Many couples expecting a baby do not think it’s a big issue whether they have a boy or a girl; however there are several medical, social, and personal reasons that could influence parents to recur to some form of gender selection.

Like many other controversial practices, the legality of gender selection, also known as sex selection, varies from country to country.

The Legality of Baby Gender Selection

The United States has perhaps some of the most relaxed laws regarding baby gender selection in the world. Most European countries and Australia, on the other hand, have bans on sex selection and only allow it for medical reasons. For example, if a parent is a carrier of a mutation or gene with more chances of manifesting itself in a certain gender, baby gender selection is valid. However, if parents simply wish to balance the ratio of boys and girls in their family, they are not allowed to recur to sex selection.

This has generated a form of medical tourism in which couples from countries where gender selection is illegal, like the UK, travel to the US in order to be able to choose whether to have a baby boy or girl.

On the other hand, sex selection is illegal in the two most populated countries on Earth, China and India. In these countries, baby gender selection has been performed clandestinely for many years and for reasons other than family balancing or avoiding genetic diseases. In these societies, having a baby boy is preferred mainly for cultural and economic reasons. Parents believe that boys have better chances of earning income and eventually support them when they reach an old age.

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Methods of Baby Gender Selection

There are two major types of gender selection methods: the first one is called sperm sorting, and involves separating X-chromosome sperm from Y-chromosome sperm by flow cytometry, a purification technique in which chromosomes are suspended in a stream of sperm and identified by an electronic detector before being separated. Intra-uterine insemination or in-vitro fertilization can then be performed with the enriched sperm. The success rates for this method vary from 80% to 93%.

The other method, called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, consists in generating several embryos through in-vitro fertilization, which are then genetically tested to determine a baby’s gender. The chosen embryos can then be implanted. This method has a success rate of almost 100%; however, it can be quite expensive, costing up to $15,000.

Issues Regarding Baby Gender Selection

While there are few objections against baby gender selection when it is performed for medical reasons, it has become a highly controversial issue when it is used for balancing the number of boys or girls in families. Some people raise the obvious ethical question of whether people who opt for gender selection are “playing God” by manipulating whether to have a baby boy or girl. Others believe that new parents will raise a baby more appropriately if he or she belongs to their preferred gender.

Gender Imbalance Caused by Baby Gender Selection

Gender selection has caused demographic concern in China and India since it has contributed to generate a gender imbalance in the populations of those countries. In some regions of China, for example, the sex ratio for newborns is 118:100, boys to girls. This phenomenon has in turn been associated with social problems such as an increase in violence and prostitution.

It seems like a logical solution for governments around the globe to legalize baby gender selection but to analyze the personal reasons why each couple intends to select a baby boy or girl. Gender selection for medical reasons should even be encouraged, since it could prevent serious genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease, and Haemophilia A. Balancing the gender ratio of a family should be accepted if by doing this, a healthy family environment is created. On the other hand, China and India have shown that baby gender selection as a result of a bias towards a particular gender can not only create a gender imbalance in the population, but contribute to social problems as well.

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Organic Certification: What the USDA Organic Label Means

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Organic and natural labels mean different things, and various types of labels tells you what percentage of ingredients are actually organic. We'll explore what to look for.

  • Reflect On:

    Do you sometimes buy products thinking they are organic or fully natural based on their wording? Have you later found out that those products aren't natural or organic at all? Read labels more closely at grocery stores to be aware.

Don’t get conned by fraudulent claims of “natural” or “organic.” Learn what to look for, and why it’s important, to ensure you’re getting the quality you are paying for.

The industrial age of the 20th century brought about changing agricultural practices that have generated increasing alarm about the effects of these practices on the environment and health. The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, irradiated and genetically altered food and fiber products has created a groundswell of rightful concern. It has led to the growing demand for non-toxic, organic products that many are willing to pay a higher price for to ensure the healthful purity of food and clothing provided for their families.

With such profit opportunities, it’s little wonder that the lucrative organic product market has suffered abuse with so-called “organic” labels being fraudulently placed on products that have not earned the right. As a result of pressure from farming and consumer groups, legislation for the standardization of organic certification was introduced in the 1980s. It has been updated to include more vigorous enforcement and control methods since, with the current standards established in 2002 by the USDA.

The Standards of USDA Organic Certification

Specific standards must be met in order to legally claim a product as USDA certified organic. Organic producers must utilize methods that conserve water, maximize soil health, and reduce air pollution. The specific standards to earn USDA organic certification include:

Free of synthetic chemicals such as insecticides, herbicides, fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics, and additives

Free from irradiation and genetically modified organisms

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Agricultural products grown on land that has been free of prohibited substances for a period of three years

Animals used for meat, eggs, milk or other animal products must be exclusively fed foods that are organically grown, may not be given antibiotics or hormones, and must have access to outdoors.

Clean and sanitized harvesting and processing equipment throughout the process from harvest to finished, packaged product

Detailed chain-of-handling records from the field through final sales

Physical separation of certified organic products from non-organic products throughout the process of production

Regular on-site inspections from USDA-approved inspectors to ensure compliance

Understanding the Certified Organic Label

Once the rigorous process of certification has been completed, organic producers may place the USDA certified organic seal on their products. Currently, there are four levels of certified organic products, with a specific definition of the percentage of organic ingredients the final products contains. They are as follows:

• 100% organic: all production methods and ingredients are USDA certified organic.

• Organic: at least 95% of the production methods and ingredients are USDA certified organic with remaining ingredients included on the National List of allowed ingredients.

• Made With Organic Ingredients: at least 70% of the ingredients are USDA certified organic with remaining ingredients included on the National List of allowed ingredients.

• No organic wording or seal: less than 70% of the ingredients are USDA certified organic and no claims may be made on the front or back of the product.

Manufacturers or producers who knowingly label a product “organic” when it does not meet the USDA standards are subject to fines up to $11,000 per violation.

Why Organic Certification is Important

When you see the official USDA organic certification seal on food, clothing, and bedding products, you can be assured that these products have met the meticulous standards required and are free of chemicals, toxins, antibiotics, and hormones. When you see the USDA certified organic label, you will understand the value of the higher priced organic products as compared to non-organically produced products.

With the current stringent organic certification requirements enforced by regular inspections from USDA accredited agents, the USDA certified organic label has great meaning and importance to the consumer. Look for the label to know that you are getting the quality you are paying for.

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We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

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Awareness

WHO Finds Global Lack Of Inactivity Rising Especially In Wealthier Countries — What You Can Do

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Inactivity is on the rise and it's the cause of a wide range of health concerns. Our population is only becoming more inactive, not less, and it's time to change that.

  • Reflect On:

    There are many factors of our modern world that make us less active. Our jobs, driving rather than walking/biking, too much screen time. What can you do differently to bring more activity into your life? What story stops you from starting?

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than a quarter of the entire population on this planet are not getting enough physical exercise, this number has barely improved since 2001. There are many factors that contribute to this, but just how much damage are we doing by failing to be active?

The lack of physical exercise raises the risk of many health problems, such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes and various types of cancers.

Interestingly, according to their study published in The Lancet Global Health, higher income countries, such as the UK, were among the least active population. Women were also found to be more sedentary throughout the world, excluding two regions in Asia.

The study looked at self-reported data on activity levels from 358 population based surveys covering 168 countries and included 1.9 million people.

The populations of higher income countries, which include the UK and USA showed an increase in the proportion of inactive people and had actually risen from 32% in 2001 to 37% in 2016, in the lower income countries it remained at 16%.

Those who were classified as inactive did less than 150 minutes of moderate exercise and around 75 minutes of intense activity per week.

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It was found that women were less active than men overall, except for in South and Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and higher-income Western countries. The authors believe that this was caused by a few different factors including extra childcare duties and cultural perspectives that may have made it more difficult for them to exercise.

Why More Inactivity In Wealthier Countries?

According to the researchers, in the wealthier countries, many of the jobs have transitioned to more office or desk jobs, meaning a more sedentary type of lifestyle. On top of that much of the population of these countries drive automobiles or take public transit to and from work which in many cases accounts for a lot of their time.

In the lower income countries, many of the jobs require the people to be more active, are physically demanding and people often have to walk to and from their jobs.

The WHO has had a goal to reduce the global levels of inactivity by 10% by 2025, the authors of the study feel that at the rate we are currently going, this target will be missed.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Regina Guthold said, “Unlike other major global health risks, levels of insufficient physical activity are not falling worldwide, on average, and over a quarter of all adults are not reaching the recommended levels of physical activity for good health.”

Regions with increasing levels of insufficient physical activity are a major concern for public health and the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.”

Co-author, Dr. Fiona Bull added, “Addressing these inequalities in physical activity levels between men and women will be critical to achieving global activity targets and will require interventions to promote and improve women’s access to opportunities that are safe, affordable and culturally acceptable.”

According to the WHO,

Exercise guidelines for 19- to 64-year-olds

How much?

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week
  • strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles
  • break up long periods of sitting with light activity

What is moderate aerobic activity?

  • Walking fast, water aerobics, riding a bike on level ground or with a few hills, doubles tennis, pushing a lawn mower, hiking, skateboarding, rollerblading, volleyball, basketball

What counts as vigorous activity?

  • Jogging or running, swimming fast, riding a bike fast or on hills, singles tennis, football, rugby, skipping rope, hockey, aerobics, gymnastics, martial arts

What activities strengthen muscles?

  • lifting weights, working with resistance bands, doing exercises that use your own body weight, such as push-ups and sit-ups, heavy gardening, such as digging and shovelling, yoga

What activities are both aerobic and muscle-strengthening?

  • circuit training, aerobics, running, football, rugby, netball, hockey

Final Thoughts

I was surprised to see that the WHO didn’t touch on inactivity due to too much screen time — watching television, Netflix, Facebook scrolling, messaging, texting, browsing etc. Certainly, the increase in screen time plays a roll with the amount of inactivity, especially in the higher income countries. If you are someone who spends too much time staring at a screen, then it is important to consider the above information. Can you limit your screen time and replace it with something active? Or would you consider jumping rope, or rebounding while watching the television? Our health is our greatest wealth and having awareness about an issue is the first way to create change and take responsibility for our lives.

Could you walk or bike to work instead of drive? What about trying a new sport? Could you commit to adding a few hours each week of physical activity? These small decisions could have a profound impact on your health, longevity and overall well-being.

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Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

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