The Lost Gods

The Lost GodsIs there a God? It's an eternal question that all ancient civilizations have answered. Not with just one God, but with hundreds of them. Bringing them to life on earth, these civilizations fashioned their images in wood, paint and stone. And built spectacular holy shrines to house them.

So what happened to these Gods? Do powerful faiths just vanish? Can Gods die? Are these once sacred sites the final resting places for long-lost religions? And how can people who believed in so many deities for so long come to believe in just one and sweep the others to extinction?

The Egyptians. The ancient Egyptians were obsessed with divinity, death and the afterlife and reincarnation. Kenneally visits Saqqara, south of Cairo, where the Egyptians learned the technique of mummification and built the first pyramid, an early prototype for the grand monuments of the Giza pyramid complex. He journeys on to explore the ruins at Abydos, Karnak and Luxor, arriving finally at the island of Philae, the site of the last hieroglyphics and a little-known shrine to Egypt's lost Gods.

The Greeks. Ancient Greece was the first major civilization to emerge in Europe. Its seat of power in Athens was crowned by the Acropolis, the famed city of the Gods. Kenneally explores the surviving remnants of this great civilization and its Gods, including the Parthenon, home to the goddess Athena and the most spectacular of the monuments of the Acropolis; Delphi, the "Vatican" of ancient Greece, where the god Apollo spoke through his Oracle; and the Greek colony of Paestum in southern Italy, site of a temple to Poseidon.

The Romans. The spectacular rise and fall of the Roman Empire fascinates us to this day, as evidenced by the success of films like Gladiator and the HBO series Rome. The Romans took their Gods from the Etruscans, on the ruins of whose civilization they built their own. Kenneally visits the Forum, the epicenter of Roman religion, and the Pantheon, sanctuary of the Roman gods. In Caerleon in Wales, he reveals how the Romans carried their religion to the farthest reaches of the empire. And at Ephesus in Turkey, he traces the rise of the Christian deity that would ultimately overthrow the Roman gods.

The Maya. There is a vast pantheon of gods worshiped by the Maya. Different areas had different gods, and some were more important in one area than in another. Each location would also have it's special patron god. There was probably some sense of competitiveness between locations, where they felt that their patron god was stronger or more beneficent that others.

The Celts. The Celts believed in benign spirits and demonic forces, but made no churches or temples: nature itself was their cathedral. Kenneally visits ancient Celtic settlements in Austria, Italy and Greece. He explores the settlement of Castell Henllys in Wales, where the religion of the druids was broken by Roman military might. And at Newgrange, Ferrycarraig and Dun Aengus in Ireland, he reveals how the Celts came to adopt the Gods of those who had preceded them.

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Ratings: 6.36/10 from 11 users.

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53 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Tyler

    Wow, just watched the first one. It puts the religion of Egypt in a historical context that's both understandable and fascinating.

  2. Linda McGuigan

    Wow what a great documentary I have only watched the first 7 min's of each as I have to go to work, I will watch this tonight when I get home and post again then.

    Linda ;-*

  3. Jenn

    When I read the title, the first thing I thought of is "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman. Pretty much the same concept, minus, you know, the research. xD

    Anywho, these are very, very good documentaries. Fascinating. :3

  4. Andy

    What about the Sumerians 4000 years earlier than the Egyptians?

  5. Will

    Y'know, really interesting if you're interested in paleontology, but there isn't much discussion about the Gods, the layout of how the mythology works, the hierarchical structure and various relationships of the gods in any of the documentaries, very few examples of myths or important lessons derived from them.

    For a documentary series called The Lost Gods, there sure is an inordinate amount of discussion about architecture.

    I turned it off half-way through the second one... bleh.

  6. unimpressed

    wot a load of eurocentric erroneous drivel...ancient history through the eyes of the conquerors...most of this was disproved by serious historians years ago...outdated and amateurish.

  7. mj

    the fact that so many people had a god of some sort probably points out that there is a god but it has been distorted over ages.
    the fact that people took there god so seriously and centrally in there lives shows that in essence the idea of god is a serious issue...

  8. Luke Wilson

    @mj i do agree with what you say. It appears that all over the world pre-christian age people did believe in Gods and must be said toook alot of time effort money into making all sort of artwork, architecture and literature dedicated to these so called Gods. Almost makes you wonder if they were onto something.. Then in-stepped christianity like a knight in shining armor and swept all this gods to one side and now the god of the Bible stands as the one true-unopposed God to dispense his rule over the world as he pleases - so much so that unlike all the other Gods, he doesnt even get reffered to using a name, we just call him GOD, a level of confidence so admirable in that u say that name and no one will mistake him for zeus, or isis or osiris but they will know you talk about the God of the Bible.

    I do have a question to anyone that might care to answer, something that I have never figured out about the idea of god. Why do they need worship? Why do they need people to adore them? I mean if they are all powerful, all knowing, all present, why dont they just let people be??

  9. bo

    @luke wilson yeah i'm sure when you say God in the middle east they know you refer to the christian god.

  10. cg

    @mj and @Luke Wilson

    The fact that many other people worshipped gods does not point to the fact that god 'probably' exists, it points to the fact that humans are apt to believe, humans have a tendency toward the supernatural. That we, through history, have seeked out god-like figures is in no way evidence that a god-like figure exists, it merely demonstrates that human intelligence (e.g. the ability to perceive that man creates things and therefore man was created in the same way) tends to have us believe in magic. Believing that Zeus throws thunderbolts from the sky does not mean this is so, what about the popular human belief in dragons? Does this mean dragons exist? How about sea monsters?

    Religion is a deeply psychological element of the human experience and it can be explained in much more reasonable ways than relying on the existence of an invisible being to sort it out. I also want Luke Wilson to realize that the way you talk about the Christian god like it's the end-all be-all of religion is utterly absurd. Just as the Egyptians persisted for thousands of years and then faded away, so too will your religion. In the end, it's all the same sort of empty myth-telling.

  11. Randy

    @cg who wrote:

    "Just as the Egyptians persisted for thousands of years and then faded away, so too will your religion. In the end, it’s all the same sort of empty myth-telling."

    Perfect. I couldn't have put it better.

    Although, they never really fade away do they? I mean, I still know people who worship Isis. *shrug*

    To that I would add this quote, "The Gods of the Old World, become the Demons of the New..."

  12. Reb

    Great doc. The wonderful world of wacky enslaving mythical gods exposed. The men behind the curtains of religion are the lying scum calling themselves "men of god". Since the christian bible clearly informs the dullards that satan is the god of this world then the clergy is correct and evil is their god.

    The god that we are expected to worship or else! is just a dictator strawman concocted by the greedy religious elites for the purpose of controlling the masses and living like kings. If there is a prime creator in this universe then it is unlikely that he would interfere and impose on us by foisting his arbitrary laws, let alone need and demand our pretty worship and blind obedience. That would be more in line with a demon. Neither of those things requires any level of mental aptitude or creativity. The intelligence and skills that's been given to many has gone totally to waste.

    Most believers have lowered themselves to the pointless practice of hero worship. They group together and plod along like a herd of mind controlled zombies mumbling their hocus pocus mantras of death and hell. Personally, I think wherever these poor dimwits are gathered is a form of hell.

    Religion is like a drug to some. And they need a 2000 year old mythical hero to save them - from themselves that is and get their weekly fix of fanaticism! Of course they must assemble in order to fill up the plate for the con man who weekly separates them from their hard earned money.

    Thomas Jefferson

    "Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites" –Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782.

    "And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors." –Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823

    "History I believe furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose. " — Thomas Jefferson to Baron von Humboldt, 1813

  13. Linda McGuigan

    @ Reb.
    Well said

    Linda ;-*

  14. Reb


    Thanks Linda. I just get so tired of the lies and manipulating that flourishes within all religions but to me christianity is the worst of the lot. Most of the founding Fathers were Deists and made no secret of it, yet the christians liars will stand on a stack of bibles and say just the opposite. They never read the works of those men and don't know shit about anything outside the covers of some old outdated book of myths.

    The christian bible is one of the bloodiest and filthiest works ever penned by man and any parent who would read most of the OT to a child needs a good ass kicking. They harp on family values in the bible when again, the very opposite is presented. Raping little children and butchering masses of innocent people should repulse anyone with any sense at all. Stoning your own children for disobience is how the bible advises parents to deal with their children. If you are starving, killing and eating your children is the answer. Handing over your virgin daughters to thugs and perverts is hardly the making of 'Dad of the year'. Incest abounds in the pages of that book of perversion but the simple minded fools truly believe this book is the word of god.

  15. Randy


    Thank you so much for the Thomas Jefferson quotes! Magnificent! What a great man! What great men were our Founding Fathers! They really tried to relieve us from the old christian oppression of Europe... but, alas...

    When Sarah Palin recently announced that she would "Return America back to its christian roots..." I nearly put a bullet in my head!

    Please pass those around more! I am old and tired, but maybe you can save us, (USA) from the evil christian god!

  16. Reb

    @Randy, this information has been around since those men died and with the invention of the internet it is also free and no one has to leave home to read it. It doesn't matter what you can prove to an idiot, they will continue on down the path of ignorance and waste.

    I honestly don't care if they choose to destroy their lives but the hate and bloodshed caused by the 'holy' wars of the 3 Abrahamic religions will leave none of us untouched. There are no crazier loons than the religiously insane. You can prove that by picking up the OT and count the millions who were slaughtered for the demon god of the hebrews, if you can stomach it.

  17. Randy


    Yes. I have studied all of it and I agree with you, 100%...

    For me, it will all be over soon enough, but I do worry for future generations...

    Oh well...

  18. Linda McGuigan

    I feel sorry for the younger generation of bible belt America with it's fundamenalist's. Here in Scotland the bible thumping seems to have fallen away and they only preach to themself's on Sunday which is the day of the sun god Ra so they cant even get that right. The founding Father's of America took a lot of the consititution from the constitution of Arbroth here in Scotland as at a time in the past it was a wee country on it's own how are you doing Reb nice to have read your post's and find some like minded people are still about have a nice day.

    Linda ;-*

  19. kask

    @Luke Wilson

    You said:
    " Why do they need worship? Why do they need people to adore them? I mean if they are all powerful, all knowing, all present, why dont they just let people be??"

    Maybe they don't NEED it, maybe it(worship) happens as a result of acknowledgment OF a god or gods? Maybe the gods do 'let us be who we be' :)

    Man has observed, that man needs to be subject to something, and it has been suggested that this something needs to be cosmic in nature.

    We might worship gods because if we don't, we might be living some form of repressed life?

    Maybe these spiritualist knew something we are just figureing out?

    But i'm just talking about things I don't really understand, Ernest Becker was who I was paraphrasing. Though he didn't say anything about worship, that was my crazy idea.


  20. the dude

    what would jesus do?

  21. Kurrrt

    It's clear the newer bibles were written in times were those who believed the earth was flat. While the ancients knew all planets were spheres, and of earth being the 7th planet. An old source of measuring planets inward to the sun. They were handed this information, and lost it. (Perhaps ole Hans Gutenberg came to late in history to share information as such) The ancient unit of measure was not the same as of modern day. This being said quite a few times- the measurements by modern archaeologists were odd when measuring ancient runes, every time they would say their "Just a little off". Anyway,ancient Gods (BCE) were more apt to worship the heavens in great detail and using extreme effort. Rather then using only a one God. I'm no expert but it seems once civilization grew and in desperate need asked for outside help, selected Gods popped out of no where. The out-come of using a one God not from the heavens was eventually used for directing, and also mainly used for control. This avoided vast populations from thinking for themselves. And it's successfully used today. The real question is: "what will you do?"

  22. Randy

    @Kurrrrt who wrote:

    "While the ancients knew all planets were spheres, and of earth being the 7th planet..."

    HAHAHAHA! I'm sorry, Kurrrt, but did you not even watch "3rd Rock from the Sun"? I mean, seriously?

    Anyways, you seem to want to cling to the old addage, "Man created god, then god created man..." Like, some patriarchal diety made the really coolest civilizations...

    That is really kind of over... it's the 21st century now.

  23. Randy

    Also, most of the ancients, without telescopes, could only see 5 planets. So...

    There is that...

  24. James

    What Jesus preached and the miracles he is said to have performed isn’t necessarily true. After all, he may have been a radical priest who was then spoken about and then as his legend grew, the stories grew. Much like King Arthur and Round Table. Do we *really* believe the books written hundreds of years after his time that he had a *real* magic sword? Come on, he may have existed, and had a nice sword, probably made of a stronger material than the common swords of the day, but not magical. It’s a nice story that got embellished. And we write books about it, hundreds of years later. Maybe in a few hundred years, people will worship King Arthur, and his Knights will be his angels, and Merlin will be his 2nd in command, and Mordred can be Satan.

    But oh wait, I’m sorry, if Arthur actually *does* magically return from Avalon (heaven) to restore Camelot, and bring peace and prosperity to the earth, the Christians will make him out to be the anti-christ… Lol

    But oh! Wait! Arthur wasn’t the only one who was said to return! Maybe Quetzalcoatl, or some other “heathen” god… Here’s the real question, if some false god *does* show up one day, how would we tell the difference? For all we know, Satan’s greatest trick wasn’t making people believe he didn’t exist, maybe it could be having you believe that he’s god, and causing you to fear questioning his religion to the point where you will follow him even if your mythical god showed up right in front of you.

    There’s just too many possibilities to count. God may exist, he may not, he might exist but not be who you think he is… It’s all a bunch of nonsense. In just one post I showed several different beliefs. None of them mine but the funny part is, they all have the same amount of “proof” to back them up. Zero. All you can do is live your life as best as you can, and hope for the best. After all, even your bible says two things that show that it can’t be proven to anyone.

    1) NOBODY will come to believe in god and the church unless god calls them. So arguing will never save anyone’s soul. If you convert someone by arguing a point, you have just proven that you are in the wrong version of Christianity by your own bible. Because it says: “How can he hear except by a preacher, and how can he preach except he be sent?” So only a priest can have a hope of converting ANYONE! You cannot save anyone, not even your own child, unless you simply introduce them to a priest who can persuade them.

    2) The bible and god are matters of FAITH! This is the most important part, if the bible itself (and therefore god him/her/itself) says that it’s all about faith, then by *definition* it CAN NOT be proven! The bible itself states that faith is the belief in things UNSEEN! Therefore the bible SAYS that it can’t be proven. STOP TRYING!!!

  25. Linda McGuigan

    I have found christianity a very snobish religion. Here in Scotland if you have money you are welcomed with open arm's if not dont bother comming the minister drives a very expensive merc and then ask's the sunday school kids to donate thier pocket money for a new church hall I mean come on.I am very glad that I was brought up to have freedom of choise and not had this make belive story brainwashed into me these thought's are my own.

    Linda ;-*

  26. esma

    to bo.. muslims dont classify gods as muslim ,christian ,jew etc..for them (maybe i should say us though being a bit sceptic ) there s only one god for us all and christiany and judaism are 'officially'accepted religions...

  27. esma

    with Kenneally i have visited Saqqara at Abydos, Karnak and Luxor, but couldnt finally arrive tothe island of Philae,
    is smt wrong with my pc or damaged film?

  28. Lori George Alexander

    I have always been rather fond of Greek mythology and so watched the film on this subject in this series. I was rather disappointed in the "false thread" Kenneally placed through the film in that the Greeks never explained what people did in the afterlife and that Christianity did. This is not true.

    Again, I just watched the Greek portion of this series but Christianity is the default here. I would rather of seen a film just on the subject and not any reference to any other religion especially a reference that shows Christianity as being the "true one". I doubt if I will try any other film in this series. That is really too bad.

  29. thugra khotan

    good doc, except they left out the norse pantheon.

  30. CJ

    And no mention of the Sumerian Texts! The first gods of Sumeria...the creation story, the story of the mention.

  31. Enheduanna

    @Will This has nothing to do with dinosaurs (paleontology.) Rather, it has everything to do with archaeology (the study of past cultures through their material culture.)

  32. Brian

    @ Luke Wilson,
    If your interested in the idea of god the you should pick up Richard Dawkins, "The God Delusion,"it could possible help you understand that the notion of worship is ridiculous.

  33. grey area

    of course they only speak of european ancient gods , what about middle eastern ones ? besides egypt? babylon, persia? they miss the most important and intriguing ones. like all european -american films of course

  34. Jack1952

    Christianity may have its roots in Sumeria.

  35. Jack1952

    Just watch the doc. Don't bring up your own personal agenda or bias.

  36. Roc'abill Rocker

    One has to remember that Christian churches do not teach Christianity, they teach Trinitarianism. Which is full of pagan doctrine. True Christianity does not condone such behavior.

  37. Roc'abill Rocker

    Spoken as true Trinitarian.

  38. Sieben Stern

    srsly! i love sumer and babylon :3 would be neat to learn more about them too.

  39. Sieben Stern

    you can actually pick anything in the bible and turn around and point to where it originated in religious antiquity - from the flood, to genesis, to the resurrection - none of it is original :3

    would be neat to see a docu that makes a timeline or web of all the influences that came to be known as the christian bible

  40. Jack1952

    @ Sieben Stern
    Especially Genesis, before the children of Israel started to form their nation. There must have been oral traditions that go way back in the history of the Middle East. Some stories may even be based on factual events. As the Bible books were written over time, the Israelites started their own myths and traditions. Some had outside influences and some may not. Unless totally isolated, no culture forms in its own personalized vacuum.

  41. You Do Not See Me

    The Truth is never reveled in its ENTIERTY... It is up to you to fill in the blank and to NOTICE THEM... QUESTION YOUR GOD, RELIGION, YOURSELF. That Thing called the bilbe even said My People Parish For lack of KNowledge, and TRUST NO MAN.... Clues people all clues

  42. CherryBombpop

    The bilbe? Please read over your words before you post. Lots of spelling mistakes makes it difficult for anyone to believe a thing you say.

  43. CherryBombpop

    He did say counting the planets from the outside instead of the inside like we do...but I'm still not sure how they'd arrive at the Earth being the 7th planet, I'm pretty sure they didn't know about Pluto in ancient times.

  44. zeynep sanl?

    it's more of a criticism of eurocentic perspective (western hegemony, orientalism... all that stuff you probably wont care about because of those same concepts.) it's ironic to call it bias actually.

  45. Jack1952

    I think what irked me about his statement was that he never commented on the doc. itself. It was if he was saying "I don't want your doc. to be about this. I want you to make a doc. about something else. I will let you know what it is that I want". If he has an interest in those subjects he should have said that it would be nice to see a doc. that covered them, also. Instead, he just makes a blanket statement about everyone in the States and Europe.

    Personally, I would like to see a doc. covering the ancient religions of the Middle East. Maybe there will be one on this site soon.

  46. Jack1952

    @ seynep sanli

    It is natural for anyone to express interest for their own cultural history. This would apply to almost anyone, no matter where they lived or who they are.
    It appears that most film and literature is Euro-centric and that is because that is where a great deal of this material is produced. It can't help but express its own perspective because that is all that it has. I have also heard criticism when attempts are made to cover topics that are about cultures outside their own. The criticism being that they bring a Euro-centric perspective to the topic at hand. How can they not? It would be presumptuous to try to express it as if they were speaking for someone else. They can only speak on their own behalf and their own way of seeing the world. That would be true of anything produced anywhere else, for example, India. That would not make them "Indo-centric" (don't know what else to call it). For me to call it that could indicate a bias on my part.

  47. 0zyxcba1

    @ Jack1952

    Glad I caught up with you. I told you a while back that you had called me a bigot and you said you couldn't remember. Well, I have remembered for you. I finally found it:

    Secret Files of the Inquisition
    page # 2
    2/3 down (actually more like 3/4 DOWN)
    I was talking to Peggy at the time and out of nowhere you dove into the exchange. Nothing wrong with that. Not at all. But it was 'out of the blue'. It was the very first exchange of ours.
    You initiated the exchange.

    In the Initial and first ever comment to me you did call me a "bigot."

    You did not reply to my very careful constructed response.
    So it is a pity you "don't remember."

    Do you not have faith in the things that you believe in? Or are you so anti religious that you believe that there could never be someone of religious faith that is well intentioned and sincere? That is the essence of bigotry. Oh, I,m an atheist. Don't hate
    me for it."


  48. Jack1952

    I have just read the original exchange. I have not read your response until now. I see your point about the difference between the religious and religion. I probably did not appreciate this subtlety at the time. I didn't call you a bigot but I surely did suggest that by the "essence of bigotry" remark.

    I am, indeed, an Atheist. However, the following remark (don't hate me) was sarcastic and I should never have said it. Bigotry of all kinds annoys me and I guess I was starting to see bigots behind every tree. I apologize for the tone of my comments and for exhibiting the qualities that I claim to dislike.

  49. farida romillo


  50. Gary V

    An interesting series of docs, Hopefully Humanity will soon see a time when all of today's religions have joined the list of past, dead religions. Then Humanity can finally leave the Dark ages behind us & move forward towards a better world for us all, without the divisions that religion brings.

  51. Guest

    I sometimes wonder if you come by and read your emails even though you have chosen not to participate anymore.
    If so....good day to you!

  52. Rocky Racoon

    Is the only knowledge you deem valid reduced to grammatical rules of the Anglo-Saxon? You would make a very poor anthropologist.

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