Zarathustra (Greek Zoroaster) was the founder of Zoroastrianism, the pre-Islamic religion of Iran and arguably established the first monotheistic faith. Aspects of its basic tenets are to be found within today’s Abrahamic religions and is claimed to have even influenced aspects of popular culture, such as Star Wars and Game of Thrones(a).
Zarathustra is generally accepted to have preached in the 7th century BC, but this is disputed, as is the question of whether the name refers to one or a number of people. Mary Settegast quotes the Iranologist, Wilhelm Geiger (1856-1943), who supported the view of a number of classical Greek writers who believed that Zarathustra lived 6,000 years before the death of Plato. Geiger quotes an ancient commentary that suggests that Zarathustra was ‘Greek or one of those who came forth from the Continent on the other side of the great sea’, which he speculates might have been Atlantis.
Graham Hancock has referred to Zarathustra at length in his Magicians of the Gods, while an extensive internet article(b) discusses details of Hancock’s opinions as well as highlighting the range of dates attributed to Zarathustra in the following excerpt; “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.’
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’ (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’ (i.e. around 6480 BC). More recent scholars have proposed dates as far apart as 1750 BC and ‘258 years before Alexander’ (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.”