Early Christian Art

WEB RESOURCE In this article by Dr. Allen Farber, the focus is on the nature of early Christian art and how it is affected by the nature of religion in the Roman Empire and the missionary work of Paul to spread Christian ideas beyond the Jewish communities of Palestine to the Greco-Roman world. The article is readable and works of art are embedded to demonstrate the ideas provided.

An Overview of Ancient Egyptian Religion

WEB RESOURCE Written by John Watson this article Egyptian for tourists provides an extensive bibliography and links to a wealth of detailed information. His description argues that behind every aspect of Egyptian life, including the art, the political structure and the cultural achievements, religious forces shaped the fabric of ancient Egypt.

Ancient Greek and Roman Gods

RESOURCE This source is for middle school teachers to help student learn about the gods and their religious stories from the ancient Greek and Roman myths.

History of Hinduism

WEB RESOURCE This BBC source argues that Hinduism's early history is the subject of much debate for a number of reasons. Firstly, in a strict sense there was no 'Hinduism' before modern times, although the sources of Hindu traditions are very ancient. Secondly, Hinduism is not a single religion but embraces many traditions. Thirdly, Hinduism has no definite starting point. The traditions which flow into Hinduism may go back several thousand years and some practitioners claim that the Hindu revelation is eternal. Although there is an emphasis on personal spirituality, Hinduism's history is closely linked with social and political developments, such as the rise and fall of different kingdoms and empires. The early history of Hinduism is difficult to date and Hindus themselves tend to be more concerned with the substance of a story or text rather than its date.

Edicts of Ashoka

PRIMARY SOURCE This Fordham University primary source site has an introduction describing King Ashoka's edicts and then provides translations of various carvings of them throughout India.

Roman Empire: Mythology

WEB RESOURCE This PBS page is part of the The Roman Empire: The First Century website. It links to information on Roman Gods, Roman Worship, etc.

Ancient Israel and Phoenicia

WEB RESOURCE Here are maps and background information outlining the history of ancient Israelites from the period of the conquest of Canaan to approximately 900 BCE.

Ancient Greek Religious Sanctuaries

INTERACTIVE MAP This is a map of the major Greek worship centers from the Historical Atlas of the Mediterranean site.

Internet Sacred Text Archive - Ancient Egypt

SACRED TEXT The civilization of Ancient Egypt lasted longer than the entire span of what we have come to accept as recorded history: over three thousand years. During these millenia the Egyptians developed a multitude of gods and goddesses, as well as esoteric practices whose meaning we are still unraveling. Egypt was the source of the first true monothestic religion, under the pharaoh Akhenaton. This rich tradition was mostly unknown until the early nineteenth century, when the Egyptian language was finally deciphered.

Rome - Mythology

WEB RESOURCE This Odyssey website is a brief overview of ancient Roman religion and links to further information about later periods. Over the centuries, the ancient Romans worshipped many gods and goddesses.People worshipped in public ceremonies as well as in their own homes.

Letters of Pliny the Younger and the Emperor Trajan

WEB PRIMARY SOURCE These letters concern an episode which marks the first time the Roman government recognized Christianity as a religion separate from Judaism, and sets a precedent for the massive persecution of Christians that takes place in the second and third centuries. Read the letters to decide what you think was the cause of the persecution.

First Jewish-Roman War 66-73 CE

WEB RESOURCE This Wikipedia article discusses the conflict between the Romans and the Jews from 66-73 CE that led to the burning of the Temple at Jerusalem. This vastly increased the number of Jews leaving Judea as many in Jerusalem lost their property and were sold as slaves. Many who identified themselves as followers of Jesus were part of this diaspora.

Early Hinduism

WEB RESOURCE This British Museum site provides an animated version of the legend of Narayana's story of creation. Vishnu and other aspects of god are also explored in this early history of Hinduism.

Belief Systems Along the Silk Roads

WEB RESOURCE Religious beliefs of the peoples of the Silk Road changed radically over time and was largely due to the effects of travel and trade on the Silk Road itself. For over two thousand years the Silk Road was a network of roads for the travel and dissemination of religious beliefs across Eurasia.

Buddhism and its Spread Along the Silk Road

WEB RESOURCE The civilizations that flourished along the Silk Road in the first millennium CE were open to cultural and religious influences from both East and West. Many religions, including Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism, gained new followers. But it was Buddhism, travelling the trade routes of the Silk Road, that became the common factor uniting the different peoples of the Silk Road.


WEB RESOURCE This Wikipedia article is a scholarly look at the dualistic religious concept of good and evil that embodied Manichaeism. Primary source and a long list of references are included. Manichaeism taught an elaborate dualistic cosmology describing the struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness. Through an ongoing process which takes place in human history, light is gradually removed from the world of matter and returned to the world of light whence it came. Some writers today argue that this religious idea is relevant to understanding the concept of American Exceptionalism.


WEB RESOURCE Mithraism is a Roman mystery religion that flourished in the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE. Much is still unknown about this secretive sect, but scholars have generally been able to determine that it involved the worship of the ancient Persian god Mithras in caves, a communal meal and initiation through seven stages of an astrologically-themed hierarchy.

Buddha and Ashoka

WEB RESOURCE In this PBS Crash Course in World History, John Green relates a condensed history of India, post-Indus Valley Civilization. John explores Hinduism and the origins of Buddhism. He also gets into the reign of Ashoka, the Buddhist emperor who, in spite of Buddhism's structural disapproval of violence, managed to win many battles.


WEB RESOURCE Pharaohs were the heads of state and religious leaders of ancient Egypt. As the religious leader of the Egyptians, the pharaoh was considered the divine intermediary between the gods and Egyptians.

Religious beliefs of early civilizations - A Story Map

WEB RESOURCE This is a series of maps beginning with the very earliest civilizations. For each there is a descriptor of the major beliefs and some analysis of how the beliefs relate to the civilization itself.

Taoism (Daoism)

WEB RESOURCE Taoism is an ancient Chinese philosophy and religion that instructs believers on how to exist in harmony with the universe. This is part of a large resource of lessons and readings that support the curriculum published online by National Geographic.

Chinese Religions and Philosophies

WEB RESOURCE This National Geographic article supports 6th grade ancient civilizations. Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism were the three main philosophies and religions of ancient China, which have individually and collectively influenced ancient and modern Chinese society.


WEB RESOURCE Zoroastrianism is the monotheistic faith established by the Persian prophet Zoroaster (also given as Zarathustra, Zartosht) between c. 1500-1000 BCE. It holds that there is one supreme deity, Ahura Mazda (Lord of Wisdom), creator and sustainer of all things, and encourages adherents to express their faith through the principle of Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds.

Religion According to the Ancient Greeks

WEB VIDEO This National Geographic video provides information about how the ancient Greeks viewed the role of religion in their everyday lives. The ancient Greeks believed in gods who were human like in their flaws. The gods were involved in all aspects of human life - work, theater, justice, politics, marriage, battle. There was no separation of church and state.