In this short lecture, I will tell you about the emergence of states, the invention of writing, and the production of state religion as a trinity that really belongs together. Some 5000 years ago, the earlier states made their appearance, and in the wake of emerging states came state religion. I shall be making the point that there is a logical link between the state on the one end as a mobile of social organization and state religion as the software that makes it work. At the time of the emergence of the first states, people invented writing, too. It was one of those inventions that would change the world. Writing allowed the storage of information, and it's communication from the one place to the other and from the one generation to the next. Writing had a major impact on religion. Without writing, there would be no holy books. The emergence of the early states, the invention of writing and state religion, they all go back to the same period. It is like a Holy Trinity. What makes a state, a state? Two things. One, the monopoly on the exercise of legitimate violence by an army or police force or through any other appropriate means. Two, the right to levy taxes for the maintenance of the state and the rest distribution of its resources. The early states are based on the principal of inequality. The state exploits the possibilities of the hierarchical model to it's full extent. Power, that is the monopoly on violence and the right to levy taxes. Power is in the hands of an elite. Many early states started as aristocracies and developed into monarchies. The king was at the top of the social pyramid. Whatever his personal abilities, he bathed in the charisma that came with the royal office. Kingship partook of the realm of the sacred. The king was a son of the god, and therefore, in a way, something of a god himself. The first states were city-states. In the fertile valleys of Egypt and Mesopotamia, the city proved a settlement model with distinct advantages over the smaller farmer communities. A city was safer. It had ramparts and gates that offered protection against attackers. The city offered greater opportunities. People without land of their own could practice a trade and thereby gain an income. Standards of living were higher. The monumental buildings were more imposing and the city festivals were far more spectacular than the simple ceremonies of the farmer village. Cities became city-states. If the army was successful, they might incorporate other cities, and in due cause, some states would turn into empires. The Roman Empire is perhaps the most telling illustration. What had started as a city-state became a world empire, yet an empire was the mentality of a city-state. Let's turn to writing. Writing was invented for a very practical reason. The inventors of writing were accountants and bookkeepers. If you entrusted your sheep to the care of a professional shepherd, it was a wise precaution to lay down how many sheep he was responsible for, so you might check later on what had happen to your flock. Taxing, one out of two characteristics of the state, was far more efficient if collectors wrote down the income. Writing down was invented to meet the needs of the administration of the early states. It was only secondarily that writing became a tool of scholarship. If you could draw up a list of sheep, or a list of contributions, you could also write down a list of the stars or a list of all the gods you knew. In the wake of the early state and the invention of writing came state religion. State religion is a religion of its own, not as the opposite of agrarian religion but as a major modification to meet the demands of a new political structure. Most of the earlier elements of religion persisted. Agrarian religion promoted the hierarchical view of the world. It fosters social cohesion and cooperation and infused believers with a sense of superiority. These were elements that remained important to an existence in the state as well. In fact, hierarchical relations became only more prominent. Hence, the necessity to anchor a hierarchical world view in the mind of the citizens through religion. Solidarity did not diminish an importance either. The larger the policy, the greater the number of people you have to interact with even if you didn't know them personally. Social cohesion and readiness to cooperate did not come naturally. Common devotion to the same god was an excellent instrument to foster such feelings. And states are in a permanent state of warfare with one another, even if periods of peace might lead you to believe otherwise. In the legitimate exercise of violence, a sense of superiority makes soldiers better combatants and armies more effective. But if state religion incorporated many of the elements of agrarian religion, it also introduced new ones. These new elements where immediately related to the increasing diversity and counted within the state. Theology and morality are two major innovations of state religion. Theology is the doctrine about the gods. It became necessary to develop such a doctrine as soon as the state embraced a variety of communies living in different cities. Each community, each city had their own gods, usually a pair or a triad. The god of the city, his divine concert, and a younger deity mostly cast in the role of divine heir. When these different communities came together in one state, the need arose to determine the place and role of their respective gods within the logic constellation of deities. In state religion, there is a pantheon. A pantheon that mirrors and systematizes the religious diversity within the state. To some extent, the pantheon is the religious equivalent of labor division. In another respect, the pantheon is also a way to hierarchically organize the various components of the state. The second innovation is morality. It is closely linked to the invention of writing, because writing allowed the moral code to serve as a moral standard displayed in the various part of the state. The divine law is typically chiseled in stone as opposed to the more perishable clay tablet or papyrus. In this respect, the biblical story of the Ten Commandments written on two stone tablets is exemplary. According to the Bible, it was God Himself who had written the tablets. They had divine authority. A closer look at the various laws in Vega throughout the earliest Middle Eastern states shows that they are remarkably similar. The notion of right and wrong does not depend on religion. Morality is a human phenomenon that can also exist and prosper without religion. The innovation consisted in morality was a supernatural authority. The gods were made into the watchmen and the guardians of morality. Living by the law brings divine rewards. Disobedience entails retribution. The advantages of that notion or evidence, hence the ability of the state to coerce compliance, is necessarily limited. But if the state cannot see everything the all-seeing gods do. States, writing, state religion, it proved a powerful trinity with a major impact on human history.