Saturday, 23 July 2011

The Origin of Religion

For a long time, mainstream scholarship has gone along with the theory of the flamboyant Stalinist archeologist, V. Gordon Childe, that formal religion and the rest of what we call civilization originated in need to organize society, a need created by the invention of agriculture. He called this the "Neolithic Revolution". The National Geographic recently featured research that overturns this theory. At the northern end of the Fertile Crescent where agriculture seems to have originated and the first cities were built, digs at a Turkish site called Gobekli Tepe have revealed a remarkable temple complex, built and rebuilt over many generations starting 11,600 years ago -- seven millennia before the Great Pyramid, nine before Stonehenge, and long before human beings gave up foraging for food and started to settle down. (Follow the link to read the full text.) Even more intriguingly, it seems the temple was more sophisticated in its earlier stages, and subsequent generations rebuilt it more crudely.

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