Timeline of religion

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Religion has been a factor of the human experience throughout history, from pre-historic to modern times. The bulk of the human religious experience pre-dates written history. Written history (the age of formal writing) is only roughly 5,000 years old.[1] A lack of written records results in most of the knowledge of pre-historic religion being derived from archaeological records and other indirect sources, and from suppositions. Much pre-historic religion is subject to continued debate.

Religious practices in prehistory[edit]

Middle Paleolithic (200,000–50,000 BC)[edit]

Despite claims by some researchers of bear worship, belief in an afterlife, and other rituals, current archaeological evidence does not support the presence of religious practices by modern humans or Neanderthals during this period.[2]

  • 100,000 BC: Earliest known human burial in the Middle East.
  • 78,000–74,000 BC: Earliest known Homo Sapiens burial of a child in Panga ya Saidi, East Africa.
  • 70,000–35,000 BC: Neanderthal burials take place in areas of Europe and the Middle East.[3]

50th to 11th millennium BC[edit]

  • 40,000 BC: The remains of one of the earliest known anatomically modern humans to be discovered cremated, was buried near Lake Mungo.[4][5][6][7][8]
  • 38,000 BC: The Aurignacian[9] Löwenmensch figurine, the oldest known zoomorphic (animal-shaped) sculpture in the world and one of the oldest known sculptures in general, was made. The sculpture has also been interpreted as anthropomorphic, giving human characteristics to an animal, although it may have represented a deity.[10]
  • 35,000–26,001 BC: Neanderthal burials are absent from the archaeological record. This roughly coincides with the appearance of Homo sapiens in Europe and decline of the Neanderthals;[3] individual skulls and/or long bones began appearing, heavily stained with red ochre and separately buried. This practice may be the origin of sacred relics.[3] The oldest discovered "Venus figurines" appeared in graves. Some were deliberately broken or repeatedly stabbed, possibly representing the murders of the men with whom they were buried,[3] or owing to some other unknown social dynamic.[citation needed]
  • 25,000–21,000 BC: Clear examples of burials are present in Iberia, Wales, and eastern Europe. These, too, incorporate the heavy use of red ochre. Additionally, various objects were included in the graves (e.g. periwinkle shells, weighted clothing, dolls, possible drumsticks, mammoth ivory beads, fox teeth pendants, panoply of ivory artifacts, "baton" antlers, flint blades etc.).[3]
  • 13,000–8,000 BC: Noticeable burial activity resumed. Prior mortuary activity had either taken a less obvious form or contemporaries retained some of their burial knowledge in the absence of such activity. Dozens of men, women, and children were being buried in the same caves which were used for burials 10,000 years beforehand. All these graves are delineated by the cave walls and large limestone blocks. The burials share a number of characteristics (such as use of ochre, and shell and mammoth ivory jewellery) that go back thousands of years. Some burials were double, comprising an adult male with a juvenile male buried by his side. They were now beginning to take on the form of modern cemeteries. Old burials were commonly re-dug and moved to make way for new ones, with the older bones often being gathered and cached together. Large stones may have acted as grave markers. Pairs of ochred antlers were sometimes mounted on poles within the cave; this is compared to the modern practice of leaving flowers at a grave.[3]

10th to 6th millennium BC[edit]

  • 9130–7370 BC: This was the apparent period of use of Göbekli Tepe, one of the oldest human-made sites of worship yet discovered; evidence of similar usage has also been found in another nearby site, Nevalı Çori.[11]
  • 7500–5700 BC: The settlements of Çatalhöyük developed as a likely spiritual center of Anatolia. Possibly practicing worship in communal shrines, its inhabitants left behind numerous clay figurines and impressions of phallic, feminine, and hunting scenes.[citation needed]
  • 7250-6500 BC: The ʿAin Ghazal statues were made in Jordan during the Neolithic.[12] These statues were argued to have been gods, legendary leaders, or other figures of power. They were suggested to have been a representation of a fusion of previously separate communities by Gary O. Rollefson.[13]

Ancient era[edit]

Extent and major sites of the Indus Valley civilization. The shaded area does not include recent excavations.

Common era[edit]

1st to 5th centuries[edit]

Middle Ages (5th–15th centuries)[edit]

5th to 10th centuries[edit]

11th to 15th centuries[edit]

Early modern and Modern eras[edit]

16th century[edit]

17th century[edit]

18th century[edit]

19th century[edit]

20th century[edit]

21st century[edit]

  • 2002: Joy of Satan Ministries was founded by Andrea Dietrich following her conception of the ideology of "spiritual Satanism".[63]
  • 2005: Becoming a place of pilgrimage for neo-druids and other pagans, the Ancient Order of Druids organised the first recorded reconstructionist ceremony in Stonehenge in 2005.[64]
  • 2006: Sectarian rivalries exploded in Iraq between Sunni Muslims and Shias, with each side targeting the other in terrorist acts, and bombings of mosques and shrines.[65]
  • 2008: Nepal, the world's only Hindu Kingdom, was declared a secular state by its Constituent Assembly after declaring the state a Republic on 28 May 2008.[66]
  • 2009: The Church of Scientology in France was fined €600,000 and several of its leaders were fined and imprisoned for defrauding new recruits of their savings.[67][68][69] The state failed to disband the church owing to legal changes occurring over the same time period.[69][70]
  • 2011: Civil war broke out in Syria over domestic political issues. The country soon split along sectarian lines between Sunni Muslims, Alawite and Shiites.[71] War crimes and acts of genocide were committed by both parties as religious leaders on each side condemned the other as heretics.[72] The Syrian civil war soon became a battleground for regional sectarian unrest, as fighters joined the fight from as far away as North America and Europe, as well as Iran and the Arab states.[73]
  • 2013: The Satanic Temple was founded by Lucien Greaves and Malcolm Jarry (pseudonyms).
  • 2014: A supposed Islamic Caliphate was established by the self-proclaimed Islamic State in regions of war torn Syria and Iraq, drawing global support from radical Sunni Muslims.[74][75] This was a modern-day attempt to re-establish Islamic self-rule in accordance with strict adherence to Shariah-Islamic religious law.[76] In the wake of the Syrian civil war, Islamic extremists targeted the indigenous Arab Christian communities. In acts of genocide, numerous ancient Christian and Yazidi communities were evicted and threatened with death by various Muslim Sunni fighter groups.[77] After ISIS terrorist forces infiltrated and took over large parts of northern Iraq from Syria, many ancient Christian and Yazidi enclaves were destroyed.[77][78]

See also[edit]


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