Rise of human civilization tied to belief in punitive gods

Long-distance strangers who share certain religious beliefs more likely to create societal bonds, study suggests

Egyptian Book of the Dead

GODS’ WRATH  Beliefs in all-knowing, punitive gods helped turn hunter-gatherer groups into large civilizations, a new study suggests. Here, a papyrus manuscript from the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead shows a line of Egyptian gods (top) ready to judge whether the dead Theban scribe Ani should be admitted to the afterlife or sent to the underworld.

Trustees of the British Museum

This article is only available to Science News subscribers.

Subscribers, enter your e-mail address to access our archives.

Not a subscriber?

Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.

More Stories from Science News on Anthropology

From the Nature Index

Paid Content