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The earliest human civilizations all had religious beliefs, as did, it seems, prehistoric peoples. Human beings during the Upper Paleolithic period, as early as 50,000 years ago, were showing signs of religious belief that included artistic reproductions and ritual funerary practices. Religion was thus well established by the time civilizations emerged in the Near East. However, the oldest surviving religious texts from the ancient world are the so-called "Pyramid texts" from ancient Egypt, which were carved into the walls and other surfaces in some of the older pyramids. These texts discuss the afterlife (and how to reach it) as well as referencing specific deities. But non-textual evidence of religious practice, as mentioned above, predates these carvings by thousands of years. Religion has, it seems, always been a significant aspect of the human experience, predating civilization itself.
At the dawn of civilization two distinct civilizations appeared in Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley: the Sumerians and the Harappans. The Sumerians settled in the valleys between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, a land known as Mesopotamia, the area known today as Kuwait and Iraq. One of the most important cities of this civilization was Ur. Ur is the city from which God called Abram as mentioned in Genesis 11:31(“Abram…set out from Ur”) and Nehemiah 9:7, “You are the LORD God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham”. Concurrently, in the area that is now Pakistan, part of Afghanistan and Northern India the Harappan civilization appeared in the flood plain of the Indus and Hakra rivers. Its two most important cities were Mojeno-doro and Harappa. The Sumerian and Harappan economies developed along similar lines, and have comparable religious and social structures. Nevertheless their politics, art, treatment of women and intellectual advancements stand in sharp contrast to one another.
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