From fire-walking to meditation, and from graduation ceremonies to wine toasting, rituals are everywhere. But what purpose do they serve? Dimitris Xygalatas combines anthropology, science, and technology to answer this question. Dr. Dimitris Xygalatas is an experimental anthropologist who specializes in the study of ritual behaviour. His research focuses on the application of scientific methods and […]
Benjamin Grant Purzycki & CERC in Nature Belief in moralistic, punitive gods that take an interest in human affairs may have facilitated the expansion of human societies, finds a study published in Nature this week. Several theories have been invoked to explain the expansion of human cooperation and societal complexity, which has been taking place since the origins […]
HECC and CERC are proud to launch the New Science of Religion Series, a video and podcast collaboration with Transliminal Media and funded by UBC and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Warriors among the Kwara’ae, a collection of tribal communities indigenous to the Solomon Islands, sacrificed pigs before battle. The tradition granted the combatants, so the belief went, aid from heroic ancestral spirits—like the mighty A’orama, a fierce fighter in Kwara’ae folklore. For every man who prepared to shed blood, a hog met its end. [more]
In January of this year, Anders Petersen folded his nearly 2-meter frame into an airplane seat for a flight from Copenhagen to Vancouver, Canada, crossing two continents on his way to check boxes on a computer screen. It would be a new experience for the religious studies scholar from Aarhus University in Denmark, who, like […]
An ancient Egyptian spent her whole life preparing for the moment when her heart would be weighed. After death, she was escorted before a divine scale. In one pan rested an ostrich feather belonging to Maat, the goddess of social order. The other pan held her heart. The deceased had been buried with a list […]
June and July have seen some momentum personnel changes at the Database of Religious History, happily all of them tied to very auspicious life events. Dr. Brenton Sullivan, our original Managing Editor for two years, has accepted a tenure track faculty position at Colgate (congrats Brenton!). Brenton played a huge role in defining the basic […]
The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter Humans are a puzzling species. On the one hand, we struggle to survive on our own in the wild, often unable to solve basic problems, like obtaining food, building shelters or avoiding predators. On the other hand, […]