Identify and describe two examples of early beliefs and/or behaviors that evolved into the foundations of later religious thinking and practice. In what ways did these early ritualistic practices influence the development of political and economic behaviors familiar to us today? 

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The use of religious rituals can also be traced back to ancient times. Rituals tended to have two functions: to court the favor of the divine and/or to mark transitions in human life. Humans made sacrifices to the gods in order to appease them, hoping they would be rewarded with...

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The use of religious rituals can also be traced back to ancient times. Rituals tended to have two functions: to court the favor of the divine and/or to mark transitions in human life. Humans made sacrifices to the gods in order to appease them, hoping they would be rewarded with bountiful harvests, protection from enemy tribes, and good weather. Later religious developments involved people making sacrifices to atone for individual sins or shortcomings as well.

Rituals were also used to help people transition into new identities based on their stage in life: the transition from childhood to adulthood, marriage, childbirth, and death. Later religions continued to use rituals for these purposes, and even secular culture and non-religious people still use rituals (such as the marriage ceremony or funeral service) because of their psychological significance.

The will of the gods has often been used as a factor in politics. Many rulers over the course of human history have justified their place in the hierarchy by claiming to either be descended from a god or to be on the throne as the result of the will of the gods. Famous examples of this would be the Chinese Mandate of Heaven, the Christian idea of the divine right of kings, or the long-held Japanese belief that the emperor was divine.

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An important development from earlier practices is the tripartite division of societies into classes (usually leaders/clergy, warriors, and farmers). The classes themselves can differ within various cultures, and sometimes an additional class or two may be present; however, this political practice goes back to those likely developed during the late Neolithic period in the Pontic–Caspian Steppe. The culture in this region was known as the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) culture. Analysis has demonstrated that linguistic artifacts from the PIE language family can be found in the Indo-Iranian languages (which later evolved into Sanskrit), as well as in the Anatolian language in ancient Turkey and the Tocharian language in ancient western China. In modern usage, Greek, Italic, Iberian, Celtic, Baltic, Slavic, Armenian, Albanian, and Germanic and Scandinavian languages all share a common root in PIE. The spread of this language also came with common cultural characteristics, including the division of society into clergy, warriors, and farmers. Kings were generally pulled from the warrior class. This division can be seen in Celtic druid societies, the Indian Caste system, and the current views on the power of both church and political leaders.

An additional element of PIE culture that has shaped modern western society is the belief in the "sky father." The PIE people held reverence for a "sky father," generally seen as related to some axis for the world. This later developed into the Yggdrasil or "world tree," Irminsul, Mt. Olympus, and so on as culturally specific axes. The "sky father" concept can be seen in the likes of Odin, Zeus, Jupiter, and several other gods. The concept of the thunder god is also quite prevalent in PIE-descendant cultures (Thor, Zeus, Jupiter, Taranis, Indra, Perkunas, etc.).

In Greek thought, the "sky father" concept combined with dualistic belief in soul and body (also a PIE belief) to give rise to monogenism and, later, monotheism. This influenced Zoroastrianism and Judaism before giving way to Christianity.

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Early Roman religions were animistic; that is, they believed that spirits resided in natural objects. Early Romans also believed that the spirits of their ancestors stood watch over them. Later, this belief in animistic spirits developed into the worship of gods such as Jupiter, Mars, Juno, and other deities. People worshipped these gods in the temple on Capitoline Hill in Rome. Later, people invested the Roman emperor with divinity, and believed that he was also a god. This tradition spread across Europe, with many emerging monarchies being founded on the principles of divine right. The divine right of kings was a method of legitimizing monarchies based on the claim that the king had been bestowed his rulership by God. Many nations until very recently (such as Japan until after World War II) also believed that their political leaders were divine in nature. 

In addition, many early rituals of inversion, when the rules of everyday life were suspended, have been passed down to us. For example, the pagan Celtic festival of Samhain marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. It was celebrated with the lighting of communal bonfires, which were brought to people's hearths at home and were used to ward off spirits of the dead. This celebration became the Christian holiday of All Saints' Eve (celebrated on October 31), followed by All Saints' Day on November 1. These holidays are still celebrated in religious and secular ways today, and they affect us economically, as people spend money on costumes and other means of celebrating in a secular way. 

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