Religious belief is very common in Homo sapiens, with almost all cultures having some kind of supernatural belief that is important to their sense of identity, although that’s about the only unifying characteristic of these ideas. Within the spectrum of human society is a similarly broad spectrum of religious beliefs. These range from the simple “animal spirits” who are responsible for the unexplained (but not much else) to a “High” or “King” God who takes an active role in the world, dictating morals of a people he created.
Some suggest this handaxe – nicknamed “excaliber” – is the earliest evidence of ritual, being “buried” with several hominins. This is strongly disputed as there is good evidence it was just washed into the cave.
Given the prevalence and importance of these religious ideas studying them is obviously something which greatly interests many evolutionary anthropologists. This interest is further amplified by the fact it is one of the behaviours which is most distinct from the animal kingdom, with few precedents found even in our closest relatives. Unfortunately, whilst we do have a decent understanding of when religious ideas arose, the hows and whys of their appearance are still unknown.
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