p. 212. Ritual and the origins of culture
- Barry Stephenson
From an ethological perspective, ritual must have been present at the beginnings of humanity and ritualization played an adaptive role in the course of both biological and cultural evolution. What was the role and function of ritual in the earliest period of cultural evolution? ‘Ritual and the origins of culture’ considers the diverse and speculative scholarly answers: shamanic trance and the emergence of advanced cognitive abilities; the construction of ritual sites as an expression of existential needs and interests, leading to the growth of large-scale, settled society and the separation of the sacred and profane; or sacrifice as a necessary mechanism to control violence and with it the birth of the sacred and religious systems.