Over 130,000 years ago, the human population may have dwindled as low as 10,000 before the great migration out of Africa began thanks to global warming. The origin of all people and all languages (except Neanderthals) resides in Africa, and so does the origin of religion.
Religion’s primary function has never changed. It’s primary purpose was to anoint the local king and priest with a divine right to authority, although it probably helped if the message was crafted in an entertaining fashion, so for countless millennia, religion was transmitted primarily through song, dance and poetry. When Sumer emerged as a civilization, there were already bigger civilizations happening in Romania, where the Danube meets the Black Sea, and central Turkey, although few celebrate those cultures today.
The Black Sea civilization, composed of small farms and sprawling villages, suddenly disappeared after invasions by the nomadic people of the steppes to their east, who stole their cattle and kidnapped their people to be sold as slaves. These invaders rode horses and possessed metal alloy weapons far superior to copper or stone. These weapons may have come from Sumer and/or Egyptian sources, the result of trading with those cultures. But the people of the steppes also possessed something all their own, the world’s best cannabis, which became a valued commodity. They invaded the cities south of the Black Sea and established themselves as the ruling oligarchy.
The Yamna of the steppes spread a creation myth heard round the world, the story of Manu and Yemo, which has many versions depending on time and place, but all the versions contain the basics of the story.
Deus Pater (father sky) Prithvi Mater (mother earth) give birth to twin brothers, Manu and Yemo. One day Manu kills Yemo and cuts him up to create the plants, animals and human beings. Trito, the third man, is born and given dominion over cattle, whose milk sustains the people. But one night all the cattle are stolen by a three-headed dragon. Trito asks the Sun God for help getting the cattle back. With the help of the Sun, Trito travels to the mountain where the dragon sleeps in a cave. He slays the dragon and leads the cattle home, saving his tribe from starvation.
Wherever you find an Indo-European language spoken, you’ll find some version of this myth.
- Zeus vs. Typhon, Kronos vs. Ophion, Apollo vs. Python, Heracles vs. the Hydra and Ladon, Perseus vs. Ceto, and Bellerophon vs. the Chimera in Greek mythology;
- Thor vs. Jörmungandr, Sigurd vs. Fafnir and Beowulf vs. the dragon in Germanic mythology;
- Indra vs. Vrtra in the Rigveda;
- Krishna vs. Kāliyā in the Bhagavata Purana;
- Θraētaona, and later Kərəsāspa, vs. Aži Dahāka in Zoroastrianism and Persian mythology;
- Perun vs. Veles, Dobrynya Nikitich vs. Zmey in Slavic mythology;
- Făt-Frumos vs. Zmeu in Folklore of Romania
- Tarhunt vs. Illuyanka of Hittite mythology;
See also: Anu or Marduk vs. Tiamat in Mesopotamian mythology; Ra vs. Apep in Egyptian mythology; Baal or El vs. Lotan or Yam-Nahar in Levantine mythology; Yahweh or Gabriel vs. Leviathan or Rahab or Tannin in Jewish mythology; Michael the Archangel and, Christ vs. Satan (in the form of a seven-headed dragon), Virgin Mary crushing a serpent in Roman Catholic iconography (see Book of Revelation 12), Saint George and the Dragon in Christian mythology. The Norse Ragnarök, as well as Poseidon, Oceanus, Triton, Ophion, and also the Slavic Veles. Possibly called *kʷr̥mis, or some name cognate with *Velnos/Werunos or the root *Wel/Vel– (VS Varuna, who is associated with the serpentine naga, Vala and Vṛtra, Slavic Veles, Baltic velnias), or “serpent” (Hittite Illuyanka, VS Ahis, Iranian azhi, Greek ophis and Ophion, and Latin anguis), or the root *dheubh– (Greek Typhon and Python).