I'm not sure exactly how early the triad of Mithra, Rashnu and Sraosha can be traced--mentions of the triad as judges of the deceased's soul appear in the later (9th century CE) Pahlavi literature. For starters, see refs in Wm. A. Malandra, An Introduction to Ancient Iranian Religion (1983); also see Edw. W. West, trans. Pahlavi Texts, Part IV, Contents of the Nasks - Dinkard, Books 8 and 9 (The Sacred Books of the East 37. Oxford, 1892).
Visually, the earliest evidence for Rashnu is on a Sogdian ossuary of the 7th c CE, a fragment from the Samarkand area (Afrasiab), that shows the soul's judgment at the Cinvat Bridge: Rashn sits with his scales for weighing the plusses and minuses of the individual, and Sraosh approaches him, leading the soul to the place of judgment. With one hand Sraosh presents an incense-burner to Rashn as testimony of the soul's piety, and with the other seems to hold the soul's hand; this portion is missing from the fragment. See Frantz Grenet, "L'art zoroastrien en Sogdiane," Mesopotamia 21 (1986):101-104, fig. 35. G. A. Pugachenkova, "The Form and Style of Sogdian Ossuaries," Bulletin of the Asia Institute NS 8 (1996): 239, fig. 12.
You might try posting on Iran-L, Sogdian-L and Sasan-L, all via Yahoo.
Judith Lerner, PhD
Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (NYU)
15 East 84 Street
New York, NY 10028
On Sep 6, 2012, at 12:55 AM, Joseph P. Elacqua wrote:
> Hello all.
> My apologies to everyone in advance if this query doesn't expressly
> fit the concerns of the mailing list.
> I have recently found myself doing a bit of work on certain early
> Zoroastrian deities. This is a bit outside my content area, so I'm
> much less familiar with current studies in Zoroastrianism than I am
> with those centered on East Asia. However, I've checked several
> studies and cannot seem to find an answer to my query, hence resorting
> to the list.
> My question is this: Does anyone know around what period we can find
> the earliest evidence of the "triad" of Mithra, Rashnu, and Sraosha
> and what that evidence is? If there is a citation in a certain
> scripture or other archaeological evidence, I greatly appreciate more
> information regarding it. If there is evidence of a "triad" that
> predates this one, I'd love to hear about it too. Unfortunately, I am
> not at all familiar with the relevant languages, so I'd be primarily
> looking for citations in English. I should also add that if it makes
> a difference, I am particularly focused on Rashnu rather than the
> other two gods.
> My apologies again if a Zoroastrianism query doesn't quite fit the
> "Ancient Near East" topic. I've seen it mentioned on the list in
> passing, but not yet as the main subject of a query.
> Thanks for your time!
> Joseph P. Elacqua
> Mohawk Valley Community College
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