polytheism

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Monotheism and polytheism – West Asian religion

By |2018-09-23T06:26:07+00:00September 15th, 2017|Religion, West Asia|

The Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar or Inanna What is polytheism? The earliest people in West Asia were all polytheistic: they all worshipped many gods. From 3000 BC to 539 BC, the Sumerians, the Akkadians, the Assyrians and the Babylonians all worshipped pretty much the same set of gods, despite their cultural differences. The most important of these gods was Ea. Ishtar was the most important [...]

Central and South American religion

By |2017-09-10T10:53:07+00:00September 10th, 2017|Central America, Religion, South America|

Maya Corn King on a plate The people who lived in South and Central America before 1500 were polytheistic - they believed in many different gods. Because they lived pretty near one another, and ate many of the same foods, some of their gods were pretty much the same. The Mayan Corn God, for example, [...]

History of religion – sacrifice, holidays

By |2018-04-21T12:09:37+00:00August 23rd, 2017|Religion|

Building at Gobekli Tepe (ca. 9000 BC) People have started a lot of different religions. Some of them are still practiced today; others are not. It is hard even to know what religion is. But let's say religion is any tendency to change your own behavior in accordance with supernatural forces. Most people [...]

Early Japanese religion

By |2018-04-18T09:53:58+00:00July 27th, 2017|Japan, Religion|

Ujigami Shinto Shrine (Japan, 1300s AD) The earliest people in Japan probably brought with them ancient religious ideas from Africa. They used red ochre to bury dead people, for example. By the time Japanese writers wrote books describing their religion in the 700s AD (the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki), these early ideas had developed into Shintoism. [...]

Mohammed the Prophet – Early Islamic history

By |2018-04-23T15:29:55+00:00July 25th, 2017|History|

Mohammed praying at the Ka'aba(in an Ottoman book from 1388 AD) Mohammed was born in the Arab trading and pilgrimage city of Mecca, in the Arabian peninsula, between 570 and 580 AD. His parents were part of a family of traders. They were not among the ruling families of Mecca, but they were certainly not poor either. Mohammed himself however grew up poor, [...]

Religion in India – Ancient India

By |2018-05-13T22:11:23+00:00July 21st, 2017|India, Religion|

Indian religion: Lights of a Diwali celebration What are the main Indian religions? Three major world religions - Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam - have been important in India. Hinduism started in India in the Stone Age. Buddhism started in India and spread from India to the rest of Asia. Islam went the other way: it started in West Asia and then [...]

What is Hinduism? A religion of India

By |2017-10-14T16:35:20+00:00July 21st, 2017|India, Religion, What|

Arjuna fighting Karna, with Krishna as his charioteer (Duttapara Temple, ca. 1500s AD) The word Hindu comes from the river Indus, and it just means the people who live near the Indus river (actually in modern Pakistan). The Harappa people who lived near that river about 2500 BC carved images of several different gods on their clay seals. We can't read Harappan writing, [...]

Who were the Norse gods?

By |2017-06-29T02:10:43+00:00June 29th, 2017|Northern Europe, Religion|

A Viking religious sacrifice (ca. 900 AD, Sweden) From their first appearance in historical literature around 100 BC, the Germans were polytheistic. They believed in many gods, just like the Greeks and the Romans and the Persians and the Indians and other Indo-European people. In fact, the most important German gods are closely [...]

Chinese Gods – Mythology – Chinese religion – Ancient China

By |2018-09-19T13:06:23+00:00June 7th, 2017|China, Religion|

Chinese gods: A Song Dynasty statue of Guanyin (ca. 1100s AD) When did Chinese religion start? People prayed to many different gods in ancient China. Some of these gods have been worshipped since the Shang Dynasty (about 2000 BC). Some have probably been around even longer, since the Stone Age. Other Chinese gods [...]