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In most cases, these civilizations have left behind a great deal of artifacts that suggest the types of religions they practiced, most being of a polytheistic or multi-god format, as well as evidence of what these gods and goddesses represented. Today, the region is more often associated with the advent of Christianity and the concept of a one-god religion, so it is interesting to note the polytheistic tendencies and perhaps examine some of the more specific details of these tendencies to determine how or why the transition was made to a male-dominated religious tradition that would span more than 2000 years. Was it a reaction to an overly powerful, highly restrictive goddess cult? As a means of trying to isolate this grander question, it would be helpful to have some understanding of the greater goddesses of the Mesopotamian region, their powers and their development over time to determine whether the legends provide any support for the Great Goddess legend.
Many people assume that the earliest civilizations worshipped a Great Goddess. She was a solitary figure that gave birth to all life on Earth and was responsible for everything on it – much like the God or Allah of the modern day. Evidence for her existence is found in a number of things such as the statuary that has been discovered and some of the myths that have been passed down. Decorative art in societies such as the ancient Minoans indicate women holding high places in society (Goodison & Morris, 1998). It is assumed that a society worshipping a Great Goddess such as this would be organized according to matrilineal lines with the female gender holding much of the power. “That at least some of the peoples … new-comers encountered were matriarchal and Goddess-worshipping was accepted by even such hard-headed (and influential) archaeologists as V. Gordon
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Ancient Religious Beliefs: Prehistoric to 1500 BC
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