Ps. Progressed organized religion, to me, starts approximately 5,000-year-old belief system) 

Women were much more prominent in religion before 5,500. Tthere is what is believed to be a female shaman burial with a matching carved ivory female head belonging to the Pavlovian culture  29,000 to 25,000 a variant of the Gravettian/(Gravettian culture 33,000 to 22,000 years ago), dated to 29,000 to 25,000-years old Dolní Vestonice, Moravia, Czech Republic. A carved ivory figure in the shape of a female head was discovered near the huts. The left side of the figure’s face was distorted image is believed to be a description of elder female’s burial around 40 years old, she was ritualistically placed beneath a pair of mammoth scapulae, one leaning against the other. Surprisingly, the left side of the skull was disfigured in the same manner as the aforementioned carved ivory figure, indicating that the figure was an intentional depiction of this specific individual. The bones and the earth surrounding the body contained traces of red ocher, a flint spearhead had been placed near the skull, and one hand held the body of a fox. This evidence suggests that this was the burial site of a shaman. This is the oldest site not only of ceramic figurines and artistic portraiture but also of evidence of early female shamans. Archaeologists usually describe two regional variants: the western Gravettian, known namely from cave sites in France, Spain and Britain, and the eastern Gravettian in Central Europe and Russia. The eastern Gravettians — they include the Pavlovian culture — were specialized mammoth hunters, whose remains are usually found not in caves but in open air sites. The origins of the Gravettian people are not clear, they seem to appear simultaneously all over Europe. Though they carried distinct genetic signatures, the Gravettians and Aurignacians before them were descended from the same ancient founder population. According to genetic data, 37,000 years ago, all Europeans can be traced back to a single ‘founding population’ that made it through the last ice age. Furthermore, the so-called founding fathers were part of the Aurignacian culture which was displaced by another group of early humans members of the Gravettian culture. Between 37,000 years ago and 14,000 years ago, different groups of Europeans were descended from a single founder population. To a greater extent than their Aurignacian predecessors, they are known for their Venus figurinesref refrefref

5,500 -3,000 Years Ago – (Egypt), found nude badarian cultural artifact Female figurine with bird traits as well as her arms are raised as either she is flying or her arms are a bull’s horns. Could this be a representation of Nut a nude goddess of the sky who depicted as having bird arms or a bull. She was the sky and a symbol of protecting the dead when they enter the afterlife. Moreover, among her jobs was to envelop and protect Ra sun god as well as re-birthing of Ra every morning. about 5,200–5,000 years ago there is more elaborate grave goods in burials and there is writing. Predynastic Period— the Naqada culture— derives its name from the site of Naqada, in Upper Egypt with a vast cemetery of more than 3,000 graves with an unusual nature compared with those previously known in Egypt, humble burials consisted of little more than the body of the deceased in foetal position, wrapped in an animal skin, sometimes covered by a mat, and most often deposited in a simple pit hollowed out of the sand. None of the offerings accompanying the deceased corresponded to the usual hallmarks of pharaonic civilization, pottery vessels of black-topped polished red ware, zoomorphic schist palettes, combs and spoons of bone or ivory, and flint knives and other artefacts. The first Naqada phase (Amratian) lies between 6,000 and 5,500 years ago, followed by the second phase (Gerzean), from 5,500 to 5,200 years ago, and the final Predynastic phase runs from 5,200 to 5,000 years ago. several thousand Predynastic graves between them (15,000 for the whole Predynastic Period). Naqada III extended all over Egypt and was characterized by some notable firsts: The first hieroglyphs, The first graphical narratives on palettes, & The first truly royal cemeteries. The Amratian 6,000 to 5,500 years ago is not different from the earlier Badarian possibly around 7,000 years ago flourishing around 6,400 to 6,000 years ago. The burial rituals and the grave goods that both may share a connection. In general, the Amratian dead were buried in simple oval pits in a contracted position, lying on the left side with the head pointing south, looking towards the west. A mat was placed on the ground below the deceased, and sometimes the head rested on a pillow of straw or leather. Another mat or the skin of an animal, covered or enclosed the deceased and most covered the offerings. Although simple burials of single individuals were in the majority, multiple burials were also fairly frequent, most notably involving a woman (possibly the mother) and a newborn infant. Compared with the previous period, larger burial places appeared, provided with coffins of wood or earth, and more lavishly equipped. Although plundered, the Amratian tombs of Hierakonpolis are remarkable for their rectangular form and unusual size. In two instances, the inclusion of magnificent disc-shaped porphyry maceheads probably indicates the burials of powerful individuals. The Amratian culture differs from the Badarian in terms of types of grave goods and consequent signs of hierarchy. Pottery holds white painted designs comprising geometrical, animal, and vegetal motifs seem to be the beginnings of an iconography at the core of pharaonic civilization. Human figures were present into two different types with hunting most prominent, and the second is the victorious warrior. The depiction comprises two human figures among plant motifs; the larger figure, with stalks or plumes fastened in his hair, lifts his arms above his head, while his virility is unequivocally marked by a penis or penis sheath. Interlaced ribbons descending from between his legs may represent decorated cloth. A white line emerges from the larger figure’s chest and wraps around the neck of the second figure, a much smaller person with long hair. A swelling on the back of the smaller figure could represent bound arms suggest conqueror and the vanquished domination appears to be the prototype of traditional scenes of victory in the pharaonic phase. The graves and the funerary offerings indicate not so much increasing hierarchization as a tendency towards social diversity in the Naqada I culture. The offerings in this period appeared initially to be intended simply to mark the identity of the deceased. It is not until the Naqada II phase 5,500 to 5,200 years ago (and even more so Naqada III) that larger accumulations of funerary artefacts are clearly in evidence. The funerary statuettes are particularly significant. Both men and women are represented standing, more rarely seated, with emphasis on the primary sexual characteristics. Only a few of the thousands of excavated tombs contained such statuettes, and usually they occurred only singly, groups of two or three in one tomb being comparatively rare. The maximum number found in a single burial was a set of sixteen figurines. Based on an analysis of the other offerings, the tombs that contained multiple statuettes were not particularly rich in other respects, and such small sculpted figures were sometimes the sole funerary offering. The use of copper and flint knives as funerary offerings raises the same kind of question during the Naqada II phase. Found on small throwsticks of carved ivory or on the tips of hippopotamus or elephant tusks, the one repeated feature of these representations is the presence of a triangular beard, often balanced by a sort of ‘phrygian’ cap pierced by a suspension hole. Unlike women, men were no longer being solely identified by their primary sexual characteristics, but by a secondary sexual characteristic and the social status that this conferred on them. The beard was evidently a symbol of power, and, in the form of the ceremonial ‘false beard’, it later became strictly reserved for the chins of kings and gods. Another symbol of power that characterizes the Naqada I phase is the disc-shaped macehead, usually carved from a hard stone, but sometimes also occurring in softer materials such as limestone, terracotta, or even unfired pottery, and cosmetic palettes constituted the item of choice for funerary equipment during the Amratian. These palettes exploded into a diversity of forms, from a simple oval shape, sometimes incised with figures of animals, to complete zoomorphs (animal imagery or deities depicted in animal form). The picture derived from the analysis of the tombs and their contents is of a structured and diversified society, with a tendency towards hierarchical organization traits of pharaonic civilization can already be seen in embryonic form. The Naqada II phase was characterized primarily by expansion, as the Gerzean culture extended from its source at Naqada northwards towards the Delta (Minshat Abu Omar) and southwards as far as Nubia. There was a distinct acceleration of the funerary trend first seen in the Amratian, whereby a few individuals were buried in larger, more elaborate tombs containing richer and more abundant offerings. Gerzean cemeteries comprise a wide range of grave types, ranging from small oval or round pits, poorly provided with offerings, to burials in pottery vessels and the construction of rectangular pits subdivided by mud-brick partitions, with specific compartments for offerings. There were coffins of wood and air-dried pottery, as well as the first indications of the wrapping of the body in strips of linen. Early ‘mummification’ of this type is attested in a double tomb at Adaïma, an Upper Egyptian site near Hierakonpolis. The Naqada II burials generally remained simple, but multiple burials, containing up to five individuals, became more common. Funerary rituals appear to have become more complex, sometimes involving dismemberment of the body, a practice that was not attested in the preceding period. A tomb at Naqada had a series of long bones and five crania were arranged along the tomb walls, and at Adaïma there are some examples of skulls detached from their torsos. The possibility of human sacrifice at Naqada, and two cases of throat slitting followed by decapitation have been identified at Adaïma. Possible evidence for self-sacrifice could be an early prelude to the mass human sacrifices around the Early Dynastic royal tombs at Abydos, which represented a turning point in the emergence of the Egyptian kingship of the Dynastic Period. Art depictions of a boat represents both a mode of travel and a status symbol which from this date onwards connected to the Nile, flowing from the north to the south, had also been transformed into a mythical river on which the first gods sailed. The links between the human and cosmic orders were already being established. During the Naqada II phase, an artifact as the macehead had become mysteriously charged as a symbol of power, and in the pharaonic period it was the weapon characteristically held by the victorious king. The Naqada III phase, 5,200 to 5,000 years ago, is the last phase of the Predynastic Period, The Emergence of the Egyptian State (5,200 to 4,686 years ago). It was during this period that Egypt was first unified into a large territorial state, and the political consolidation that laid the foundations for the Early Dynastic state of the 1st and 2nd Dynasties must also have occurred then. In the latter part of this phase there is evidence of kings preceding those of the 1st Dynasty, in what is now called ‘Dynasty o’. They were buried at Abydos near the royal cemetery of the 1st Dynasty. State Formation and Unification from the Naqada II phase onwards, highly differentiated burials are found in cemeteries in Upper Egypt (but not in Lower Egypt). Élite burials in these cemeteries contained large quantities of grave goods, sometimes made from exotic materials such as gold and lapis lazuli. These burials are symbolic of an increasingly hierarchical society, probably representing the earliest competition and the aggrandizement of local polities in Upper Egypt, as economic interaction and long-distance trade developed. Found two large niched mud-brick tombs and a cemetery with Early Dynastic graves and the sudden appearance of a new style of ‘royal’ burial at the end of Naqada III, together with the more impoverished (earlier) burials in the cemeteries far to the north, probably coinciding with the absorption of the Naqada polity into a larger one. In contrast, in the Umm el-Qaeab region of Abydos the graves in one area (Cemeteries U and B and the ‘royal cemetery’) evolved from fairly undifferentiated burials in early Naqada times, to an élite cemetery in late Naqada II, and finally to the burial place of the kings of Dynasty o and the 1st Dynasty. One Naqada III tomb, U-j, dating to 5,150 years ago with 150 small labels found with what appear to be the earliest known hieroglyphs and possible with traces of what could be a wooden shrine in the burial chamber and an ivory model sceptre demonstrate that this was the tomb of a ruler, possibly King Scorpion. There are rich burial suggesting that élite individuals of considerable means were being buried at Hierakonpolis, but that they were still not of the same class as the rulers at Abydos. Whereas Naqada was politically insignificant in the Early Dynastic Period, Abydos was the most important center for the cult of the dead king, and Hierakonpolis remained an important cult center associated with the god Horus, symbolic of the living king. All ceremonial objects were found in or near the area Egyptians establish camps and way stations in the northern Sinai, but the ceramic evidence also suggests that they established a highly organized network of settlements in southern Palestine where an Egyptian population was in residence. The importance of the Delta for Egyptian contact with south-west Asia is also suggested by enigmatic evidence from Buto. Lower Egyptian Predynastic culture at this site, ceramic clay ‘nails’ and a so-called Grubenkopfnagel (a tapering cone with a concave burnished end) that resemble artefacts used in the Mesopotamian Uruk culture to decorate temple façades. Possibly demonstrating contact with the Uruk culture network may have taken place via northern Syria, as the earliest Predynastic items at Buto contain sherds decorated with whitish stripes characteristic of the Syrian ware. Both imported and Egyptian-made cylinder seals, an artefact type unquestionably invented in Mesopotamia, are found in a few élite graves of the Naqada II and III phases. Beads and small artefacts in lapis lazuli, which could only have come from Afghanistan, are first found in Upper Egyptian Predynastic graves. Mesopotamian motifs also appear in Upper Egypt (and Lower Nubia), including the motif of the héros dompteur (a victorious human figure between two lions/ beasts), painted on the wall of a Tomb at Hierakonpolis, which dates to Naqada II. Other typically Mesopotamian motifs, such as the niched palace façade and high-prowed boats, are also found on Naqada II and III artefacts and also in the rock art. The styles of these motifs are more characteristic of the glyptic art of Susa in south-west Iran than of the Uruk culture, and the fact that such artefacts are not found in Lower Egypt has raised the possibility of some southern route of contact between Susa and Upper Egypt. In Lower Nubia there are numerous burials containing many Naqada craft goods were probably obtained through trade and exchange. The early Egyptian state was a centrally controlled polity ruled by a (god-) king from the Memphis region. What is truly unique about the early state in Egypt is the integration of rule over an extensive geographic region, in contrast to contemporaneous polities in Nubia, Mesopotamia, and Syria– Palestine. Although there is seeming evidence of foreign contact around 4,000 years ago, the Early Dynastic state that emerged in Egypt was unique and indigenous in character. Graves and tombs, found in this region from the 1st Dynasty onwards funerary evidence suggests that the Memphis region was the administrative center of the state and also indicates that the early Egyptian state was highly stratified in its social organization. In the south, Abydos remained the most important cult center. The kings of the 1st Dynasty were buried at Abydos, another indication of the Upper Egyptian origins of this state. From the very beginning of the Dynastic Period the institution of kingship was a strong and powerful one and would remain so throughout the major historical periods. Nowhere else in the ancient Near East at this early date was kingship so important and central to control of the early state. The nature of early Egyptian civilization was expressed primarily through monumental architecture, especially the royal tombs and funerary enclosures at Abydos, and the large tombs of high officials at North Saqqara. Formal art styles, which are characteristically Egyptian, also emerged in the Naqada III/ Dynasty o and Early Dynastic periods.

References 1,2,3,4

Ian Shaw. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt (Oxford Illustrated History) (p. 66). OUP Oxford. Kindle Edition.

 “Religion is an Evolved Product

Prehistoric Egypt 40,000 years ago to The First Dynasty 5,150 years ago
Natufians: an Ancient People at the Origins of Agriculture and Sedentary Life
Was the Value of Ancient Women Different?
Kultepe? An archaeological site with a 4,000 years old women’s rights document.
The Evolution of Religion and Removing the Rationale of Faith