To understand the congruence of the One God worshipped between Zoroastrianism and Hinduism, the Ancient Greeks, the Celts and the Germanic tribes, we need to observe the Aryan peoples. They lived on the Caucasian steppes since about 4500 BCE and around 2500 BCE some Aryans split and moved into the interior of Europe. Those that stayed, themselves gradually split in two main branches, forming into speakers of the Avestan dialect and the Sanskrit dialect, but even by 1500 BCE they were still able to communicate with each other.
What makes this group of people spectacular is from them we have the largest language-family group in the world, stretching in ancient times from India in the east and Ireland in the west.
When one thinks of the Ancient Egyptians, one immediately thinks of many gods. Surely there is no sign of monotheism in this civilisation, you’d instinctively assume. Just as a snapshot, observe this list depicting the main (most powerful) Gods from the Ancient Egyptian pantheon, which differed region to region over time – but note it was the sky or sun god that is almost consistently singled out as the most powerful:
Horus Early-dynastic 31c BCE: Sky god
Ra Old Kingdom 25-24c BCE: Sun god
Atum Old Kingdom: god of creation
Amun Old Kingdom 21c BCE: Sun god (replaced Mentho) (Amun-Ra became Zeus Ammon in Greece)
Mentho Middle Kingdom 19c BCE: war god – originally sun god (Old Kingdom)
Could there be a parallel with what happened with the Mesopotamian gods in Ancient Egypt – where the existence of a hierarchy and a central powerful god at its apex signals its monotheistic roots? In another post, I’ll unpick the oldest history of the Ancient Egyptians. However, I wanted to present two interesting ‘Islamic’ parallels from the New Kingdoms (about 1,550-1,100 B.C.E.).
Early Man was Religious
We have very little facts about prehistoric beliefs. This is a problem.
“The first semblance of religious practices began in the Paleolithic period, which occurred roughly from 2.6 million years ago and lasted until 10,000 years ago… it was during this expansive time period that the first ancestors and relatives of modern humans began to bury their dead. Specifically, around 300,000 years ago. The practice of burying the dead indicates a belief in or fascination with the concept of an afterlife.”
So it seems that with the advent of humanity, there is certainly evidence of a belief in an afterlife. However, there are massive problems with trying to make further assertions one way or another during this time period.