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Scientists conclude that religion has been dividing human society for 2,000 years.
Whether religion is a good or bad force in the world has been a strong topic of debate for a very long time. Scientists have claimed that religion has actually been dividing our society and causing conflict for more than 2,000 years.
Researchers from the University of Central Florida and the University of Colorado have released a new anthropological study of several Mexican archaeological sites dating back to 700BC.
The study was released on Monday in Current Anthropology.
It appears to contradict a long-held belief that religion united early state societies, the study said.
Professor Arthur A.Joyce and Associate Professor Sarah Barber lead several years of field research in the Rio Verde valley and the Valley of Oaxaca on Mexico’s Pacific coast.
They found that local religious rituals helped to forge strong small scale community links which delayed the development of large state institutions.
The scientists were studying the period from approximately 700BC to 250AD and found elites came to dominate religious life and controlled the connection between communities and their gods – leading to conflict with traditional community leaders.
This resulted in the formation of a regional state with the hilltop city of Monte Albán as its capital.
However, religion then caused yet more conflict, and regional states did not last long.
This caused grand temples being built by 100AD, only to be abandoned a century later.
Professor Joyce from the University of Colorado said: “In both the Valley of Oaxaca and the Lower Río Verde Valley, religion was important in the formation and history of early cities and states, but in vastly different ways.
“Given the role of religion in social life and politics today, that shouldn’t be too surprising.”