People do not often connect religion and agriculture. In fact, people more commonly think in terms of religion being established as the result of people developing agriculture. Through the surplus of resources, the common assumption is that there was more time to think abstractly, about life and an after life. Thus, religion came to being. However, there is evidence that suggests religion to be the cause of the emergence of agriculture. It all began with a temple that was discovered in Southeast Turkey.
The Gobekli Tepe (or “pot-bellied hills” when translated) was created over 13,000 years ago, making it 8,000 years older than the Stonehenge. Like the Stonehenge, it also is a substantial stone structure, but the Gobekli Tepe is in the shape of a T. Based upon its shape, some believe it to represent a human being. Carved images appear on the stone of various wild animals, but nothing that shows signs of agriculture or herding.
Upon archaeologists’ investigation, this could not be a structure for living, but rather a place to meet with others for the sake of religion. Bones of humans and animals were also found nearby, which suggests that this could be a burial ground or a form of worship to ancestors. Only wheat cultivation was found 500 years following the start of construction. In addition, at that time, pig, cattle and sheep were domesticated. All of this, however, taking place after the start of the building of the temple.
In order for the temple to be built, there needed to be people to work on the temple. For people to be able to work on it, there needed to be a source of food, which led to agriculture and domestication of animals for food. Meaning, religion appeared, and following that, systems of economy, politics, and agriculture.
Religion is often disregarded as a mere fantasy or a way to oppress others. However, many forget the role that religion plays in the establishment of settlements and communities.
Religion, then, did not simply arise because people had more time to think about it. It had to be the motivation for the creation of new villages and advances in social, economic, and political systems.