Introducing a volume dedicated to the study of ancient religious practices and beliefs can be a difficult task because it needs to briefly introduce the reader to religion (i.e. how it functioned, what was is structure, how it has been studied so far, in which directions archaeological approaches can lead to its investigation with) without being repetitive, but, at the same time, trying to summarise all the previous studies on this immense topic. To start with, religion is a phenomenon that is inseparable from human society and brings about a set of emotional, ideological and practical elements that are pervasive in the social fabric of any society and characterisable by the following features: the establishment of intermediaries in the relationship between humans and the divine (i.e. religious specialists); the construction of ceremonial places for worshipping the gods and practicing ritual performances (e.g. religious buildings); the incorporation of non-human elements into a sacred sphere (e.g. sacred landscapes); the creation of material culture used as a means for materialising religious beliefs and human devotion (i.e. ritual paraphernalia); and, finally, the transmission of cosmological stories through the use of oral/written as well as practical means (i.e. mythological stories and ritual practices).
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