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Religions and Rituals of the Mesolithic

a 20-minute presentation of Mesolithic religious practices that predate formal, organized religion

Skyler Lendway

on 12 December 2011

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Transcript of Religions and Rituals of the Mesolithic

What is Religion? Prehistoric religion is the name given to the beliefs and practices of traditional, often isolated and preliterate cultures In the Mesolithic, these include ideas such as;

burial rites
contruction of icons
giving logic to the irrational So what would they worship?

The earth around them
Animals The idea of Prosperity
abundance of food/resources Religions and Rituals of the
Mesolithic and Neolithic Ages

Skyler Lendway
Matt Myers How to worship in the Mesolithic:
Hunting Rites Importance of hunt animals to hunter-gatherer lifestyle allows ample reason for worship
May have sacrificed animals
Left numerous images of animals and hunts in paintings
How to worship in the Mesolithic:
Burials Evidence in central Europe suggest earliest cermations
Evidence along Berring Strait suggest house burials were common
Bodies would be covered with red chalk or ochre
Snail shell ornaments
Bodies buried in "flexed" positions
The tangible world In the Mesolithic...

Worshiping in the Neolithic
What's changed?
May have had shaman's but no solid evidence Continued connection to animals
Continued value of properity
Burials become more significant and extravagant, still similar to Mesolithic
Societies switch from egalitarian to hirearchy, creating place for religious leaders Primary worship of the earth
becomes... Worship of the sky How to Worship in the Neolithic: Megaliths Large stone structures
Emphasize the night sky, specifically solstices, equinoxes and constellations
Constructed to be seen at great distances
Commonly designed as burial chambers
Often adorned with art; possibly religious? Newgrange exterior... ...and interior. How to Worship in the Neolithic:
Signifigance of Burials Death appears to be more important than life
Burial sites constructed more permanently than dwellings
Sacrifice occurs, but only in desperate times
Excarnation of bodies pre-burial demonstrates connection to nature
Burial in tombs was reserved for individuals of signifigance Four types of Megaliths:

1) Court Cairns
2) Portal Tomb
3) Passage Tomb
4) Wedge Tomb
Rarely made from local stone
Some took more than 30 years to complete
Stone circles constructed in Late Neolithic
But mostly in Bronze Age That's All Folks!
Full transcript