Campany, & Ge, H. (2002). To live as long as heaven and earth a translation and study of Ge Hong’s traditions of divine transcendents. University of California Press. https://doi.org/10.1525/9780520927605
Cartelli, Mary Anne. (2004). On a Five-Colored Cloud: The Songs of Mount Wutai. Journal of the American Oriental Society, 124(4), 735–757. https://doi.org/10.2307/4132115
Chen. (2005). Images, Legends, Politics, and the Origin of the Great Xiangguo Monastery in Kaifeng: A Case-Study of the Formation and Transformation of Buddhist Sacred Sites in Medieval China. Journal of the American Oriental Society, 125(3), 353–378.
Chou. (2018). Mount Wutai : visions of a sacred Buddhist mountain. Princeton University Press.
Lin, & Williams, B. E. (2014). Building a sacred mountain : the Buddhist architecture of China’s Mount Wutai (First [edition].). University of Washington Press.
Liu. (2023). Reconstructing the Archaeological Context of Free-Standing Buddhist Images: Considerations of the Wanfosi Hoard in Chengdu (Sichuan). Religions (Basel, Switzerland ), 14(6), 759–. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14060759
Sen. (2016). Buddhism, diplomacy, and trade : the realignment of India-China relations, 600-1400. Rowman & Littlefield.
Tang, Li, X., Yao, Y.-F., Ferguson, D. K., & Li, C.-S. (2014). Environmental reconstruction of Tuyoq in the Fifth Century and its bearing on Buddhism in Turpan, Xinjiang, China. PloS One, 9(1), e86363–e86363. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0086363
Xie. (2021). Struggle on the Axis: The Advance and Retreat of Buddhist Influences in the Political Axis of Capitals in Medieval China (220–907). Religions (Basel, Switzerland ), 12(11), 984–. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12110984
Zhao, Xu, C., & Liu, T. (2022). The Connection between Buddhist Temples, the Landscape, and Monarchical Power: A Comparison between Tuoba Hong from the Tang Dynasty. Religions (Basel, Switzerland ), 13(9). https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13090833
“If there were no god, it would be necessary to invent him.” ~Voltaire
Gobekli Tepe is a world-famous site, and among the most important archaeological discoveries ever made. It’s an ancient settlement in the Anatolian highlands of modern day Turkey, with residential structures clustered about a series of at least 20 stone enclosures, dominated by a series of megalithic structures filled with relief carvings of wild animals. It was occupied between about 9500-8000 BC during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic, predating the Great Pyramids by almost 7,000 years. It was inhabited by semi-sedentary hunter-gatherers, and early wild plant cultivators. These people managed to organize the construction of these amazing monumental spaces, which would have required hundreds of people cooperating for extended periods of time, moving massive stone blocks weighing multiple tons. The planning, commitment, and resources required would have challenged even the largest and most complex hunter-gatherer communities.
When it was discovered, the site seemed so out of place for the pre-pottery neolithic that the lead archaeologist, Klaus Schmidt declared: “first came the temple, then the city” (Schmidt, 2000). To him, it looked like the first religious monuments predated the first towns, highland sanctuaries that roving bands of hunter-gatherers could periodically converge on, conducting rituals to reaffirm their ties to one another (Dietrich et al. 2012). The point was pretty simple: If people started building religious monuments before they became sedentary, maybe those new religious systems were what caused people to come together into densely populated towns. So what came first, the temple or the city? Thinking about this question leads us down a fascinating rabbit hole, examining the function of religion in human societies.
First of all, even defining religion is a minefield, because there are so many ways to do so. I’m going to take Durkheim’s sociological definition. According to this view: “A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden - beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a church, all those who adhere to them.” -Durkheim.
So- beliefs about the sacred, that help groups of humans cohere in order to live in a community. Along with the rituals, supernatural beings, norms and taboos associated. This is a fuzzy line to walk, between the extremely rigid and institutionalized Abrahamic religions, things that shade into philosophy like Buddhism, and recently created cults, like scientology. As far as Durkheim was concerned, we’re sweeping a lot of this stuff into a big category based on the role they play for groups of humans.
Why should religion require some evolutionary explanation? Well, as Roy Rappaport has said, “Given the central place that religious considerations have occupied in the thoughts and actions of men and women in all times and places, and given the amount of energy, blood, time and wealth that have been spent building temples, supporting priests, sacrificing to gods and killing infidels, it is hard to imagine that religion, as bizarre as some of its manifestations may seem, is not in some way indispensable to the species” (Rappaport 1999:2).
There are two primary evolutionary interpretations of religion, which are still competing. These can be framed as the adaptationist view, and the evolutionary byproduct view.
A variety of cases show how other evolved elements of our psychology might have produced religious thinking as a byproduct. For instance, Anthropologists (Guthrie 1995, Boyer 2001) have noted that humans have a tendency to anthropomorphize nature, and to see agents in natural events. This Hypersensitive Agency Detection gave us an advantage in our prehistory (Barrett 2004). If you spot a shape in the dirt that might be a lion-print, or if you think enemies from a neighboring tribe are near, there’s an advantage to assuming you’re right so that you can take precautions. Humans also have an inbuilt tendency to think teleologically about natural things (Kelemen 1999). So children, when asked what, say, a lion is for, might say “for seeing at the zoo.” This teleological sense could have helped us quickly understand one another’s intentions, or easily grasp the purpose behind skills, tools, ideas, and resources.
Religious membership can be costly for individuals. VERY costly. Circumcision, fasting, strange clothing. Sometimes it even involves lifelong celibacy, or the renouncement of worldly possessions. And these costly elements actually seem to be a feature of religious communities, not a bug. For example, anthropologist Richard Sosis has shown that the longevity of 19th century religious communes, could be predicted by how many costs they imposed on their members. He showed that the more costly sacrifices required, the longer the commune survived(Sosis and Bressler 2003). This seems to suggest that aspects of religious behavior are costly signaling mechanisms, demonstrating a person’s commitment through behaviors that are difficult to fake (Irons, 2001).
With that in mind, let’s turn to the adaptive explanations for religion, both for individuals and for groups. For example, religious belief systems often encourage high fertility rates. And if a group is effectively acquiring resources and protecting its members, it’s easy to see how that’s adaptive.
Perhaps the most influential voice pushing us to see religion as a functional evolutionary adaptation is David Sloan Wilson, author of Darwin’s Cathedral. Wilson points out numerous examples of how religious systems have helped social groups cohere in useful ways. For example in the 1500s, Calvinism’s egalitarian, cooperative, individually motivating brand of protestantism helped transform Geneva into a city state with power and influence well beyond its size. Meanwhile, in Bali, water temples maintained by a hierarchy of religious communities called subaks coordinated the activities of thousands of rice farmers over hundreds of square kilometers, even today. This system appears to have been in place on Bali in various forms for more than a thousand years, dating to the pre-Majapahit period (Schoenfelder 2003). “Religious belief gives an authority to the system that it would not have as a purely secular institution” (Wilson 2002:130).
The most fascinating way that religion could be adaptive is that it looks like an answer to the tragedy of the commons. This was a term coined by Garret Hardin in one of the most influential papers of the 20th century. The idea is that if there is a common resource being shared, humans tend to deplete that resource, because the benefits of using it go to the individual, the free-rider, while the cost is shared by everyone. The archaeologist Justin Cramb has studied some of the most remote atolls and islands of Polynesia. On Manihiki and Rakahanga, the people lived on a knife edge. These islands are so small that even a little bit too much fishing or hunting could crash the ecosystem. So they adopted a unique set of taboos and behavioral codes. Periodically, they would totally abandon one of the two islands, moving to the other while one ecosystem recovered (Cramb and Thompson, 2022)’’. This migration was called the Tûmutu, and did something like letting a field lie fallow, but on a larger scale. In this way, they managed to inhabit these islands for centuries. According to Garret Hardin this shouldn’t happen, because individual people will violate these rules and go catch fish or harvest taro on the other island, while the whole society shares the cost. So this is humans moving beyond parasitic self-interest.
We can see the early glimmers of religious thinking quite deep in our prehistory. Perhaps the earliest sign comes from burials. For a community to bury one of its members is an act of ritual, one that might hint at abstract beliefs about life after death, and the proper treatment of group members. There are a few controversial, possible burials predating anatomically modern humans. For example, Hadar AL-333 appears to contain the remains of at least 13 Austrolapithecus afarensis individuals, dating to perhaps 3.2 million years old (Radosevich et al. 1992). They were recovered from a 7m wide area, in a bizarre concentration that has been difficult for archaeologists to explain. With predation, scavenging, flash floods, and other ideas unconvincing, one researcher has suggested these Individuals were “moved to the site of deposition” in a form of “funerary caching” (Pettitt 2011:45). At Rising Star Cave, Lee Berger and colleagues believe Homo Naledi, with a brain case only half the size of our own, was depositing its dead deep in this cave system in some kind of mortuary ritual (Dirks et al. 2015). Not everyone agrees. Less controversial, is that Neanderthals interred their dead, though it’s unclear the meaning behind it. At the Chappelle-aux-Saints Cave, an articulated, complete Neanderthal skeleton was found in a depression in the bedrock, where they were intentionally placed (Rendu et al. 2014). At Shanidar Cave, 10 neanderthal men, women, and children may have been buried, as Neanderthals returned to the site over long periods of time (Pomeroy et al. 2020). The repeated ritual interment of the dead within a place of significance would suggest cultural complexity of a higher order.
As anatomically modern humans arrive on the scene we see an explosion in burial sites. Paul Pettitt imagines a progression in mortuary behavior from our recent ancestors to anatomically modern humans, finally reaching the point where “mortuary activity was functioning in the wider symbolic realm, alongside art” (Pettitt 2011:269). But where we really start to see a theme is in the cave paintings of the Upper Paleolithic. In a chapter titled The Roots of Inequality (Bender 1989), Barbara Bender made one of the most compelling interpretations of these cave painting sites I’ve ever read. She argues that the cave art sites of the Upper Paleolithic were places where people recurrently gathered. The dark zones of these caves where many of the most elaborate pictographs can be found may have been the sites of exclusive rituals that helped establish group membership, rites of passage, and social rank. Jean Clottes and David Lewis-Williams have also made a compelling case that sites like this were associated with Shamanic practices based on evidence that much of the art of Upper Paleolithic Europe appears to have been produced while in altered states of consciousness. Of course, there’s probably a lot more to these cave sites than any one interpretation can cover, but I think seeing many of them as religiously significant is a safe bet.
By the Natufian period in the Levant, from around 14,500-11,500kya, we see large communal burial grounds at sites like El-Wad. Some of these Natufian villages contain special, communal buildings with possible religious significance, like at ‘Ain Mallaha (Verhoeven 2011).
Now let’s go back to Gobekli Tepe. We now know that there was a settlement there- this was not the occasional religious sanctuary of highly mobile hunters. This was, instead, a large seasonally occupied settlement where a dense population of foragers not only hunted- but also ground wild barley and einkorn, and ate almonds and pistachios (Clare 2020, Dietrich et al. 2019). In many ways though the story of the site remains the same. The monumental spaces at Gobekli Tepe probably anchored the community. In its vicinity there are other sites with T-shaped stones visible on the surface, such as at Sefer Tepe, Karahan Tepe and Hamzan Tepe.
One author imagines that “competition between the sites, such as between Göbekli Tepe and other nearby sites, to produce “the most perfect” symbolic structure contributed to the emergence of common cosmologies and histories.” (Duru 2018:168)
As social units grew since the agricultural revolution, religious spaces have continued to form the sacred cores of communities. “Visit any small New England town, and right in the middle, where the main roads converge, you invariably find a little church, usually white, taller than everything around it. European cities? Grown up helter-skelter around cathedrals. Indian villages? Anchored by the local temple. Jerusalem? Don’t even get me started.” (Wood 2019) Small gods for small towns and tribes have been blended, made bigger. Symbols and motifs compete for attention and certain ones function better as anchoring points for massive populations of humans. “These ever-expanding groups with high social solidarity, high fertility rates that ensure demographic expansion, and a stronger capacity to attract converts grew in size often at the expense of other groups.” Whether or not you identify with one of these Big Religions, this kind of value-laden, moralizing group thinking is something that we all participate in. We see glimpses of it in the rituals surrounding team sports, rock concerts, politics, moral philosophy, and many other aspects of modern life. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though it may not always be good, either. It just is. As the great anthropologist Clifford Geertz said:
“Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance that he himself has spun.” (Geertz 1973:5)
Barrett, J. L. (2004). Why Would Anyone Believe in God? New York: Altamira Press.
Bar-Yosef, O., & Valla, F. R. (2013). Natufian foragers in the Levant: Terminal pleistocene social changes in Western Asia. International Monographs in Prehistory.
Boyer, P. (2001). Religion Explained. New York: Basic Books
Clare, L. (2020) „Göbekli Tepe, Turkey. A brief summary of research at a new World Heritage Site (2015–2019)“, e-Forschungsberichte des DAI, S. 1–13 (§). doi: 10.34780/efb.v0i2.1012.
Cramb. (2020). Manihiki and Rakahanga: The Historical Ecology of a Dual-Atoll Cluster. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.
Cramb, Justin & Thompson, V. D. (2022). Dynamic Sustainability, Resource Management, and Collective Action on Two Atolls in the Remote Pacific. Sustainability (Basel, Switzerland), 14(9), 5174–. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14095174
Dietrich, Heun, M., Notroff, J., Schmidt, K., & Zarnkow, M. (2012). The role of cult and feasting in the emergence of Neolithic communities. New evidence from Göbekli Tepe, south-eastern Turkey. Antiquity, 86(333), 674–695. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003598X00047840
Dietrich, Meister, J., Dietrich, O., Notroff, J., Kiep, J., Heeb, J., Beuger, A., & Schütt, B. (2019). Cereal processing at Early Neolithic Göbekli Tepe, southeastern Turkey. PloS One, 14(5), e0215214–e0215214. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0215214
Dirks, P.H.G.M.; Berger, L.R.; Roberts, E.M.; et al. (2015). "Geological and taphonomic context for the new hominin species Homo naledi from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa". eLife. 4: e09561. doi:10.7554/eLife.09561. PMC 4559842. PMID 26354289.
Durkheim, E. (1912). The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life: a Study in Religious Sociology (J. W. Swain, Trans.). Allen & Unwin.
Duru, G. (2018). Sedentism and Solitude: Exploring the Impact of Private Space on Social Cohesion in the Neolithic. In I. Hodder (Ed.), Religion, history and place in the origin of settled life (pp. 162–185). essay, University Press of Colorado.
Geertz. (1973). The interpretation of cultures : selected essays. Basic Books.
Guthrie, S.E. (1995). Faces in the Clouds: A New Theory of Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Haidt. (2012). The righteous mind : why good people are divided by politics and religion (1st ed.). Pantheon Books.
Hardin. (1968). The Tragedy of the Commons. Science (American Association for the Advancement of Science), 162(3859), 1243–1248. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.162.3859.1243
Irons, W. (2001). Religion as a Hard-to-Fake Sign of Commitment. In R. M. Nesse (Ed.) Evolution and the Capacity for Commitment, pp. 292-309. Russell Sage Foundation, New York, NY.
Kelemen, Deborah. (1999). Why Are Rocks Pointy? Children’s Preference for Teleological Explanations of the Natural World. Developmental Psychology, 35(6), 1440–1452. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1618.104.22.1680
Lewis-Williams, D. J., & Clottes, J. (1998). The mind in the cave the cave in the mind: Altered consciousness in the upper paleolithic. Anthropology of Consciousness, 9(1), 13–21. https://doi.org/10.1525/ac.1922.214.171.124
Pettitt, Paul. (2011). The Palaeolithic Origins of Human Burial. Routledge.
Pomeroy, E., Bennett, P., Hunt, C., Reynolds, T., Farr, L., Frouin, M., . . . Barker, G. (2020). New Neanderthal remains associated with the ‘flower burial’ at Shanidar Cave. Antiquity, 94(373), 11-26. doi:10.15184/aqy.2019.207
Radosevich, S.C., Retallack, G.J. and Taieb, M. (1992), Reassessment of the paleoenvironment and preservation of hominid fossils from Hadar, Ethiopia. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol., 87: 15-27. https://doi-org.libproxy.uwyo.edu/10.1002/ajpa.1330870103
Rendu, Beauval, C., Crevecoeur, I., Bayle, P., Balzeau, A., Bismuth, T., Bourguignon, L., Delfour, G., Faivre, J.-P., Lacrampe-Cuyaubère, F., Tavormina, C., Todisco, D., Turq, A., & Maureille, B. (2014). Evidence supporting an intentional Neandertal burial at La Chapelle-aux-Saints. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences - PNAS, 111(1), 81–86. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1316780110
Schmidt, K. (2000). »Zuerst kam der Tempel, dann die Stadt« Vorläufiger Bericht zu den Grabungen am Göbekli Tepe und am Gürcütepe 1995-1999.
Schoenfelder, J. W. (2003). Negotiating poise in a multi-hierarchical world: An archaeological exploration of irrigated rice agriculture, ideology, and political balances in the coevolution of intersecting complex networks in Bali (Order No. 3094218). Available from ProQuest One Academic. (305347579). https://www-proquest-com.libproxy.uwyo.edu/dissertations-theses/negotiating-poise-multi-hierarchical-world/docview/305347579/se-2
Shanidar z: What did neanderthals do with their dead?. University of Cambridge. (2020, February 18). https://www.cam.ac.uk/stories/shanidarz
Sosis, R. (2000). Religion and intragroup cooperation: Preliminary results of a comparative analysis of Utopian communities. Cross-Cultural Research, 34(1), 70–87. https://doi.org/10.1177/106939710003400105
Sosis, Richard and Eric Bressler, 2003. Cooperation and commune longevity: A test of the costly signaling theory of religion. Cross-Cultural Research 37:211-239.
Verhoeven, Marc, ' Retrieving the Supernatural: Ritual and Religion in the Prehistoric Levant', in Timothy Insoll (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Ritual and Religion (2011; online edn, Oxford Academic, 18 Sept. 2012), https://doi-org.libproxy.uwyo.edu/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199232444.013.0050, accessed 19 Oct. 2023.
Wood, C. (2019, July 3). First Came the Temple - Then the City?. Science On Religion. https://www.patheos.com/blogs/scienceonreligion/2019/07/first-came-the-temple-then-the-city/
Brodie. (2006). Archaeology, cultural heritage, and the antiquities trade. University Press of Florida.
Casana. (2015). Satellite Imagery-Based Analysis of Archaeological Looting in Syria. Near Eastern Archaeology, 78(3), 142–152. https://doi.org/10.5615/neareastarch.78.3.0142
Childs. (2010). Finders keepers : a tale of archaeological plunder and obsession (1st ed.). Little, Brown and Co.
Friberg, & Huvila, I. (2019). Using object biographies to understand the curation crisis: lessons learned from the museum life of an archaeological collection. Museum Management and Curatorship (1990), 34(4), 362–382. https://doi.org/10.1080/09647775.2019.1612270
Kennedy, Banks, R., & Dalton, M. (2015). Kites in Saudi Arabia. Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy, 26(2), 177–195. https://doi.org/10.1111/aae.12053
Kersel. (2020). Engaging with demand and destruction. Antiquity, 94(376), 1074–1076. https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2020.62
Kersel. (2015). Fractured oversight: The ABCs of cultural heritage in Palestine after the Oslo Accords. Journal of Social Archaeology, 15(1), 24–44. https://doi.org/10.1177/1469605314557586
Kersel. (2022). The Gallery Enhancements Project at the Oriental Institute Museum of the University of Chicago: Everything Old Is New Again. American Journal of Archaeology, 126(2), 317–326. https://doi.org/10.1086/719444
Kersel. (2023). Innocents Abroad? The Consumption of Antiquities from the Holy Land. Journal of Ancient Judaism, 2023(2), 263–290. https://doi.org/10.30965/21967954-bja10042
Kersel. (2015). An Issue of Ethics? Curation and the Obligations of Archaeology. Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology & Heritage Studies, 3(1), 77–79. https://doi.org/10.5325/jeasmedarcherstu.3.1.0077
Kersel. (2021). Redemption for the Museum of the Bible? Artifacts, provenance, the display of Dead Sea Scrolls, and bias in the contact zone. Museum Management and Curatorship (1990), 36(3), 209–226. https://doi.org/10.1080/09647775.2021.1914144
Kersel. (2015). STORAGE WARS: Solving the Archaeological Curation Crisis? Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology & Heritage Studies, 3(1), 42–54. https://doi.org/10.5325/jeasmedarcherstu.3.1.0042
Kersel. (2011). When Communities Collide: Competing Claims for Archaeological Objects in the Market Place. Archaeologies, 7(3), 518–537. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11759-011-9182-8
Marlowe. (2016). What We Talk About When We Talk About Provenance: A Response to Chippindale and Gill. International Journal of Cultural Property, 23(3), 217–236. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0940739116000175
Rutz, & Kersel, M. M. (Eds.). (2014). Archaeologies of text : archaeology, technology, and ethics. Oxbow Books.
Stevenson. (2019). Scattered Finds: Archaeology, Egyptology and Museums. UCL Press. https://doi.org/10.14324/111. 9781787351400
Surovell, Toohey, J. L., Myers, A. D., LaBelle, J. M., Ahern, J. C. M., & Reisig, B. (2017). The End of Archaeological Discovery. American Antiquity, 82(2), 288–300. https://doi.org/10.1017/aaq.2016.33
Zimmerman, Vitelli, K. D., & Hollowell, J. J. (2003). Ethical issues in archaeology. Altamira Press in cooperation with the Society for American Archaeology.
Buy Brian's book here: https://www.amazon.com/Enclave-Esp%C3%ADritu-Pampa-Monumenta-Archaeologica-ebook/dp/B08N3Y2PBG
Cleveland Museum's catalog of Wari artifacts: https://www.amazon.com/Wari-Lords-Ancient-Susan-Bergh/dp/0500516561
Alconini Mujica, & Covey, A. (Eds.). (2018). The Oxford handbook of the Incas. Oxford University Press.
Bauer, Brian, Fonseca Santa Cruz, J., & Silva, M. A. (2015). Vilcabamba and the archaeology of Inca resistance. Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press.
Bélisle, Quispe-Bustamante, H., Hardy, T. J., Davis, A. R., Antezana Condori, E., Delgado González, C., Gonzales Avendaño, J. V., Reid, D. A., & Williams, P. R. (2020). Wari impact on regional trade networks: Patterns of obsidian exchange in Cusco, Peru. Journal of Archaeological Science, Reports, 32, 102439–. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2020.102439
Bergh, Lumbreras, L. G., & Castillo, L. J. (2012). Wari : lords of the ancient Andes. Thames & Hudson.
Edwards, & Schreiber, K. (2014). Pataraya: The Archaeology of a Wari Outpost in Nasca. Latin American Antiquity, 25(2), 215–233. https://doi.org/10.7183/1045-66126.96.36.199
JAVIER FONSECA SANTA CRUZ & BRIAN S. BAUER. 2020. The Wari enclave of Espiritu Pampa. Los Angeles (CA): Cotsen Institute of Archaeology
Jennings, & Yépez Álvarez, W. (Eds.). (2015). Tenahaha and the Wari state : a view of the Middle Horizon from the Cotahuasi Valley. The University Alabama Press.
Jennings, & Berquist, S. (2023). Ayllus, Ancestors and the (Un)Making of the Wari State. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 33(2), 349–369. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0959774322000336
Rosenfeld, Jordan, B. T., & Street, M. E. (2021). Beyond exotic goods: Wari elites and regional interaction in the Andes during the Middle Horizon (AD 600–1000). Antiquity, 95(380), 400–416. https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2020.250
Valdez, Bettcher, K. J., Ochatoma, J. A., & Valdez, J. E. (2006). Mortuary preferences and selected references: a comment on Middle Horizon Wari burials. World Archaeology, 38(4), 672–689. https://doi.org/10.1080/00438240600963379
We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night telling itself stories."
Humans are 90 percent chimp and 10 percent bee."
The very ritual practices that the New Atheists dismiss as costly, inefficient and irrational turn out to be a solution to one of the hardest problems humans face: cooperation without kinship”
The most powerful force ever known on this planet is human cooperation — a force for construction and destruction.”
The human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor."
Sports is to war as pornography is to sex."
Selfishness beats altruism within groups. Altruistic groups beat selfish groups. Everything else is commentary."
Civilization is the interval between Ice Ages."
Most of us spend too much time on the last twenty-four hours and too little on the last six thousand years."
Philip Larkin famously proposed that what will survive of us is love. Wrong. What will survive of us is plastic, swine bones and lead-207, the stable isotope at the end of the uranium-235 decay chain."
We are part mineral beings too – our teeth are reefs, our bones are stones – and there is a geology of the body as well as of the land."
However many nations live in the world today, however many countless people, they all had but one dawn." ~Anonymous, Popul Vuh
Every step you take has already been taken. Every story has already been told. The land is not newly discovered, so old with legends you might mistake them for rocks." ~Craig Childs
The present contains nothing more than the past, and what is found in the effect was already in the cause." ~Henri Bergson
Archaeologists may not always see the trees, but we capture the forest with great clarity" ~Robert Kelly
The past is never dead; it's not even past." ~William Faulkner
No civilization has survived forever. All move toward dissolution, one after the other, like waves of the sea falling upon the shore. None, including ours, is exempt from the universal fate.” ~Douglas Preston
If you go into a museum and look at antiquities collected there, you can be sure that the vast bulk of them were found not in buildings but in graves." ~Leonard Woolley
Ice breathes. Rock has tides. Mountains ebb and flow. Stone pulses. We live on a restless earth.” ~Robert Macfarlane
We always stand on the shoulders of our ancestors, whether or not we look down to acknowledge them." ~David Anthony
That which always was, and is, and will be everliving fire, the same for all, the cosmos, made neither by god nor man, replenishes in measure as it burns away." ~Heraclitus
Shamanism is not simply a component of society: on the contrary, shamanism, together with its tiered cosmos, can be said to be the overall framework of society." ~David Lewis-Williams
Opened are the double doors of the horizon. Unlocked are its bolts." ~Utterance 220 of the Pyramid of Unas
If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten." ~Rudyard Kipling
The mountains are fountains of men as well as of rivers, of glaciers, of fertile soil. The great poets, philosophers, prophets, able men whose thoughts and deeds have moved the world, have come down from the mountains." ~John Muir
The ecological thinker is haunted by the consequences of time." ~Garrett Hardin
Through the experience of time, Dasein becomes a ‘being towards death’: without death existence would be care-less, would lack the power that draws us to one another and to the world." ~Iain McGillchrist
The dead outnumber the living fourteen to one, and we ignore the accumulated experience of such a huge majority of mankind at our peril." ~Niall Ferguson
Tell me what you eat and I'll tell you what you are." ~Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
We live in a zoologically impoverished world, from which all the hugest and fiercest, and strangest forms have recently disappeared." ~Alfred Russel Wallace
Humans have dragged a body with a long hominid history into an overfed, malnourished, sedentary, sunlight-deficient, sleep-deprived, competitive, inequitable, and socially-isolating environment with dire consequences." ~Sebastian Junger
Except in geographical scale, tribal warfare could be and often was total war in every modern sense. Like states and empires, smaller societies can make a desolation and call it peace." ~Lawrence Keeley
The first people were aware of the signs and signals of the natural world. Their artifacts were projectiles, blades, and ivory sewing needles, either used on animal products, or made from them, or used to procure them. The world around them was a cycle of animals of all sizes, from voles and falcons to some of the largest mammals seen in human evolution." ~Craig Childs
The number of herbivores sets a cap on the number of carnivores that can live in a region. Of course, adding an additional predator of fairly large body size, like a modern human, would produce repercussions that would ripple though all the other predators in the area and their prey." ~Pat Shipman
When viewed globally, near-time extinctions took place episodically, in a pattern not correlated with climatic change or any known factor other than the spread of our species." ~Paul S. Martin
However splendid our languages and cultures, however rich and subtle our minds, however vast our creative powers, the mental process is the product of a brain shaped by the hammer of natural selection upon the anvil of nature."
Behavior is imitated, then abstracted into play, formalized into drama and story, crystallized into myth and codified into religion- and only then criticized in philosophy, and provided, post-hoc, with rational underpinnings."
I have seen yesterday. I know tomorrow."
We are fire creatures from an ice age." ~Stephen Pyne
Men come and go, cities rise and fall, whole civilizations appear and disappear-the earth remains, slightly modified." ~Edward Abbey
Men and women, empires and cities, thrones, principalities, and powers, mountains, rivers, and unfathomed seas, worlds, spaces, and universes, all have their day, and all must go." ~H. Rider Haggard
One day the last portrait of Rembrandt and the last bar of Mozart will have ceased to be- though possibly a colored canvas and a sheet of notes will remain- because the last eye and the last ear accessible to their message will have gone." ~ Oswald Spengler
All that is human must retrograde if it does not advance."
In the long paleontological perspective, we humans must be considered invasive in any locale except Africa." ~Pat Shipman
Of the gladdest moments in human life, methinks, is the departure upon a distant journey into unknown lands. Shaking off with one mighty effort the fetters of Habit, the leaden weight of Routine, the cloak of many Cares and the slavery of Civilization, man feels once more happy." ~Richard Francis Burton
Sedentary culture is the goal of civilization. It means the end of its own lifespan and brings about its corruption." ~Ibn Khaldun
Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire." ~Gustav Mahler
As for man, his days are numbered. Whatever he might do, it is but wind." ~The Epic of Gilgamesh
There is a cave in the mind."
Full circle, from the tomb of the womb to the womb of the tomb, we come." ~Joseph Campbell
I feel again a spark of that ancient flame." ~ Virgil
Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun. I take culture to be those webs, and the analysis of it therefore not to be an experimental science in search of law, but an interpretive one in search of meaning." ~Clifford Geertz
In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order." ~Carl Jung
Man fears time, but time fears the pyramids." ~Arab proverb
Few romances can ever surpass that of the granite citadel on top of the beetling precipices of Machu Picchu, the crown of Inca Land." ~Hiram Bingham
You don't have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things- to compete. You can just be an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated to reach challenging goals." ~Edmund Hillary
Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going into the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity." ~John Muir
To speak of truth sounds too grand, too filled with the promise of certainty, and we are rightly suspicious of it. But truth will not go away that easily. The statement that ‘there is no such thing as truth’ is itself a truth statement, and implies that it is truer than its opposite, the statement that ‘truth exists’." ~Lain McGillchrist
The Sphinx will always have to be looked after."
Yes, the pyramids have been built, but if you give me 300,000 disciplined men and 30 years I could build a bigger one."
Civilizations exist by geological consent, subject to change without notice."
When at last we anchored in the harbor, off the white town hung between the blazing sky and its reflection in the mirage which swept and rolled over the wide lagoon, then the heat of Arabia came out like a drawn sword and struck us speechless"
The best prophet of the future is the past."
An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can get. The older she gets the more interested he is in her."
Archaeology is the peeping Tom of the sciences. It is the sandbox of men who care not where they are going; they merely want to know where everyone else has been."
What would be ugly in a garden constitutes beauty in a mountain."
I have never been able to grasp the meaning of time. I don't believe it exists. I've felt this again and again, when alone and out in nature. On such occasions, time does not exist."
Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths. "~Joseph Campbell
In my experience, it is rarer to find a really happy person in a circle of millionaires than among vagabonds."
Always my soul hungered for less than it had"
History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs, and wooden shoes coming up."
Back home, I'm always focusing on something happening in the future. On expeditions, time stops, and you become like a stone age man, acting on instincts and knowing you are part of the universe."
Genes are rarely about inevitability, especially when it comes to humans, the brain, or behavior. They're about vulnerability, propensities, tendencies." ~Robert Sapolsky
The Land is not old. It only changes, becoming one thing and the next. We are the ones who ascribe age, the brevity of our lives demanding a beginning, middle, and end."
Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books."
The only thing that belongs to us is the time."
To abhor hunting is to hate the place from which you came, which is akin to hating yourself in some distant, abstract way." ~Steven Rinella