History can be unforgiving. As time moves forward, many details of human civilization become lost to the ages. Since religion in one form or another has been with mankind for as far back as recorded history suggests, it stands to reason that plenty of religious groups have gone the way of the dinosaur. Looking back on some of these lost religions can be an interesting glimpse into the past and what mattered to people at different points in time. While these religions might not exist anymore, their memories still linger on in one way or another.
Some religions only exist in the texts of other major religions. When one takes a look at the Torah of Judaism and the Old Testament in the Bible of Christianity, you’ll find an example of a religion that has gone out of existence. Throughout both of these texts, a group of people referred to as the Canaanites are brought up as being enemies to the Israelites. For many centuries after the Torah and the Bible were written, the actual lost religion of the Canaanites remained a mystery of the ages.
This all changed in the 1920s when artifacts were excavated from a site in modern-day Syria. Among the artifacts were tablets with details about the Canaanite religion. According to the tablets found in Syria, the worshipers of this still-unnamed religion believed in many gods and goddesses. One of the stories on the tablets told of the thunder god Baal and his epic fight with the god of death, Mot. While these details shed light on a long lost religion, a vast amount of other information has been erased over the years.
It’s All Greek
When it comes to defunct religions that have been somewhat preserved over the years, the Ancient Greeks are pretty high on the list. Still, there were plenty of religions circling the Mediterranean before Zeus and his pantheon came on the scene. This became evident when archaeologists uncovered ruins on the island of Crete that dated back to the Minoans. The Minoans are most known in the modern day as being the people responsible for the Minotaur in classic Greek myths. While the remains of this beast were not discovered, some interesting information was.
According to the findings during this archaeological dig, the Minoans followed a matriarchal religion. The main deity worshiped was a goddess connected to nature, though many of the details surrounding this goddess and her worship have been lost. There was also much evidence suggesting that bulls and cattle played a large part in the religion, specifically in regards to sacrificing the animals for rituals. This has led scholars to make connections between historic evidence and the classic tale of the Minotaur, where young men and women were sacrificed to the beast to satisfy an ancient wrong.
Some forgotten religions are not as forgotten as many people would believe. Tengriism is a very old religion that dates back to Central Asia in the days of the Bronze Age over 5000 years ago. The religion itself lacks any type of text, but records of the traditions still exist. In fact, many academics believe the act of cutting down a tree and bringing it home for Christmas began with Tengriism and the tradition of decorating a Yule tree. While the religion is not as active as it was thousands of years ago, there are people who still follow it.
History books are packed with information on civilizations that no longer exist. As time marches forever forward, it can be useful to stop and take a moment to reflect upon what has been lost along the way. This can help to shape the future and enrich the present with fascinating bits of information on the trials and tribulations of the human race.