Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Religion First, Then The Plow

     Anyone interested in the evolution of man and his ancient roots, especially those wanting to understand the psychology of a person and society, must look into the recent archaeological findings in Anatolia, written about recently by National Geographic magazine and The New Yorker.
     This site contains what appears to be religious structures obviously requiring large groups of people but occurring before agriculture.  They are over 11,000 years old, over 6,000 years older than the Great Pyramid!  What is remarkable is that these religious structures were built before man took up the plow, which means that (at least in this location) organized religion came before large, organized, hierarchical, and agricultural societies.  Consequently, we must update our assessment about the importance of organized religion in the homo sapien species.

The findings at Gobekli Tepe suggest that we have the story backward—that it was actually the need to build a sacred site that first obliged hunter-gatherers to organize themselves as a workforce, to spend long periods of time in one place, to secure a stable food supply, and eventually to invent agriculture.
—Elif Batuman.  December 19 & 26, 2011.  “The Sanctuary.”  The New Yorker magazine.

     In The New Yorker article I learned that the term "Neolithic Revolution" (the transition from hunter-gatherer to livestock-farming )was coined in the 1920s by a [disillusioned] Stalinist named V. Gorden Childe, who committed suicide in 1957 after an uprising in Hungary.

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