The belief in life after death is an ancient one. It is found in many religions and cultures, and has been a part of human thought since the beginning of recorded history. The belief in an afterlife may have arisen from early humans' dreams about their own deaths-or from the need to provide comfort for loved ones left behind.
The Sungir People – 32000 BC
The Sungir people are an ancient tribe in Russia. They were a nomadic tribe that sustained themselves off of hunting and farming. The Sungir people believed that there was life after death and they had many different beliefs about the afterlife. The Sungir people believed that the soul was immortal, and when a person died, their soul would live on in the spirit world. They also believed that the burial of a person's body was very important because it ensured that their soul would be able to find its way to the spirit world after death.
Ancient Native Americans – 16000 BC – 1000 BC
Native American beliefs about the afterlife are varied and diverse. In some tribes, the soul goes to a spirit world where it may live on as an ancestor or animal, while in others it is reincarnated in the body of a human being.
Some tribes believe that when someone dies, their soul leaves their body and goes to live with ancestors or animals in a spirit world. Other Native Americans believe that death is just a change of life from one form to another. They believe that death is not the end but just another stage of life which will be followed by rebirth into another human body or into the body of an animal.
Çatalhöyük 9000 BC – 5700 BC
Çatalhöyük is one of the earliest known settlements in Anatolia. It was established in 7500 BC, and it is the oldest known site of human occupation in Anatolia.
It was abandoned around 5700 BC and has been under excavation since 1961.
The most significant discovery at Çatalhöyük is that of a large number of human skeletons laid out on the floor of a building that appears to have been used as a burial chamber. The women were found lying on their right sides, while the men were usually found lying on their left sides. The skulls were often separated from the rest of their bodies and placed between the legs or near them.
The people buried at Çatalhöyük had not been buried with any goods such as tools or weapons, but they had sometimes been buried with food such as wheat, lentils, peas, beans and fruit stones (pitted olives).
Ancient Persia 7200 BC – 651 AD
It is not certain what happens to the soul of a person after death. Some people believe that when a person dies, their soul leaves the body and goes to heaven. Other people believe that the soul stays in this world for a time before moving on to another place.
Persian culture has different beliefs about life after death. Persians believe that the dead body must be buried as soon as possible and should not be left unattended for too long, otherwise it will lead to bad luck and misfortune. They also believe that if someone dies in an unnatural way, like suicide or murder, they will never find peace and will always walk around with a heavy heart looking for revenge.
Ancient Chinese – 7000 BC – 206 BC
The Chinese believe that when a person dies, they are transported to the spirit world. The spirit world is a place where the dead reside until they are reincarnated and reborn into a new life. They believe that the soul lives on after death and can be seen by the living in various forms.
The beliefs of the Chinese can be traced back to Taoism and Confucianism. The Taoists believed that there was no afterlife, but instead one should focus on living life in harmony with nature. They believed that when one dies, their energy is carried into nature, which is why it was important to care for nature. The Confucianists believed in an afterlife called "Sheng-Jing". They believed that if one led an honorable life, then they would have a good afterlife; if not then their fate would be worse than death.
Ancient Egyptians 6000 BC – 527 AD
Ancient Egyptians believed that the soul was immortal. They believed that the soul would live on in the afterlife and would have a similar life to what they had lived on earth. The ancient Egyptians believed that death was not a bad thing and they were often buried with items, such as food, clothing or jewelry, to help them in the afterlife.
The ancient Egyptians believed that there was only one life after death. They also believed that this life would be similar to what they had lived on earth.
The Mesopotamian Civilization 4000 BC – 3500 BC
The Mesopotamian civilization had a very interesting belief system when it came to life after death. They believed in an afterlife, but they also believed that the soul was immortal. This means that they did not believe in an afterlife just for the body, but instead they believed that the physical body was temporary and would eventually decompose, while the soul would go on living.
The Mesopotamian civilization believed that the soul would go to a spirit world after death. The spirit world is where all of their ancestors and deities lived and this is where souls would go to be judged by these deities for their behavior on earth. If a person's judgement was good then they were allowed to live in this spirit world with their ancestors and if it was bad then they were sent back to Earth as a ghost or demon.
Ancient Indian Civilization 3300 BC – 1400 BC
Ancient Indian is a religion that believes in the existence of soul. It is believed that after death, the soul travels to the other world and takes rebirth. The cycle continues until it reaches the ultimate goal of moksha.
The Hindu believes in reincarnation and karma, which are both important beliefs to understand when looking at life after death.
The Hindu believe in reincarnation which means that they believe that after death, their souls will take rebirth into a new body with a new life span. This process will continue until they have reached their ultimate goal of Moksha which is peace and salvation from worldly concerns.
Hindus also believe in karma which means that what you do on Earth will come back to you as good or bad events in your next life on Earth.
A person's actions in life affects their next birth and this cycle continues until they reach Moksha.
The Mayan Civilization 2600 BC – 1697 AD
The Maya believed that the world was a great tree, with the earth as its roots. The sky was the tree’s trunk and branches, and the sun and moon were two birds that lived in its branches. The stars were fruits on the tree, and people were like animals living among them.
The Maya believed that life is cyclical, with death being just another step in a person’s journey. They also believed in nine layers of heaven or hell, with each layer containing a different type of life form.
The Incan Civilization 1000BC – 1533AD
The Incans believed that there was a spirit world, or afterlife, and that the soul would continue to exist after death. The Incans would bury their dead in a fetal position with all of the possessions they had with them when they died. They believed that the deceased would need these things in the afterlife.
The Incan people also believed in a Creator God called "Pachamama." The Creator God created the earth and everything on it. When someone died, they were taken to Pachamama's home so they could live in peace and happiness for eternity.
Ancient Greeks 1000 BC – 300 BC
Ancient Greeks believed in an afterlife and that the soul lives on after death. The Greeks believed that the soul was immortal and would live on in the form of a spirit.
The ancient Greeks believed that the soul was immortal and would live on in the form of a spirit.
The ancient Greeks had many beliefs about what happens to a person’s soul after death, but they all agreed that it continued to exist. They also agreed that this life is not as important as what happens in the afterlife.
Tibetan 127 BC -
Tibet is a region in the People’s Republic of China. It is also the home to Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetans have their own beliefs about life after death and the soul. They believe that when someone dies, their soul will move from one world to another.
If you want to know more about what Tibetans believe, we recommend reading "The Book of the Dead".
The Vikings – 793 AD – 1066 AD
In Norse mythology, Valhalla is the hall in Asgard where Odin receives half of the slain warriors who die in battle. Valhalla is a battlefield, and its inhabitants are slain warriors. The einherjar train for the day when they will be called upon to fight with Odin against the forces of evil at Ragnarök.
The afterlife in Norse mythology is not precisely defined, but Valhalla has been described as a great hall where heroes who have died in combat go after death and live together under the rule of a goddess. The deceased who are taken to Valhalla are chosen by Odin and Freyja from among those who have died of natural causes or by violence (such as murder).
Valhalla is attested in the "Poetic Edda", compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; it is also attested in "Grimnismal", one of the poems collected in "Gylfaginning", written down by Snorri Sturluson around 1220.