The Spirit World: Religion and Ideology
In spite of human diversity, all societies share some common experiences and face many of same problems. A uniquely human way of attempting to cope with these problems is through the practice of religion, or the development of a belief system. In this unit, we address the means by which archaeologists investigate the nature of prehistoric religious beliefs, and the way belief systems work to integrate increasingly complex societies.
After completing this unit, you should be able to
- compare the role of religion and ideology in traditional and industrial societies.
- explain why it is difficult to think about religion as an adaptation.
- describe what archaeologists can realistically hope to recover when investigating religion and ideology.
- describe the earliest archaeological evidence for religious behaviour.
- describe the criteria used by Flannery to interpret early Mesoamerican ritual practices from Oaxaca, Mexico.
- compare current views of ancient Maya religion.
- describe the Templo Mayor, indicate where it is, and explain who worshipped
After completing the viewing assignment for this unit, you should be able to
- describe the elements of ancient Maya religion that are practised today.
- explain how the decipherment of Maya glyphs contributed to the interpretation of ancient Maya religion.
- explain how Maya religion and politics connected.
- describe some of the difficulties in interpreting ancient religions.