Religious Behavioral Development in the Stone Age

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Religious behaviors developed to what they are today beginning in the pre-historic times of the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and the Neolithic. There is evidence of these behaviors in the archaeological artifacts as well as mythological evidence. Religious behaviors evolved as humans evolved. Religious beliefs changed too. In the Paleolithic we learn that people were very spiritual; everything was treated as a spiritual act. They approached everything ritualistically and their behaviors were in response to the numinous. The numinous is described as a feeling you get when you can’t explain something. There is archaeological evidence pointing to animal worship during this time too. Spiritual beliefs in the Paleolithic gave way to forms of organized religion based on archaeological findings from the Neolithic.

Beginning in the Paleolithic we see evidence of ritual burials as a form of religious behavior. Early modern humans buried their dead and some of those graves contained grave goods. These grave goods consisted of beads and various pieces of jewelry: bracelets, necklaces, and pendants. The grave goods may have implied that the people believed the dead would go on somewhere and they may need, or want, those items with them. This is a belief based on animism, that anything and everything has a soul or spirit. The grave goods could also mean that the living treated the dead the same way they treated the living. The burials suggested they had respect for the dead. These ritual burials continued on in the Mesolithic and the Neolithic.

Starting in the Mesolithic and continuing in to the Neolithic, we see more religious behaviors develop. During the Paleolithic, people were living together and cooperating with one another, building temples, and gathering food and everyone spoke one language. The myths suggest that at one point the cooperation and harmony dissipated, and three new cultures evolved. With the three new cultures came three different languages. The...
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