Religious conflict has been dividing human society for more than 2,000 years, scientists say. 

A new anthropological study of several Mexican archaeological sites dating back to 700BC has appeared to contradict a long-held belief that religion united early state societies.

In fact, researchers from the University of Colorado and the University of Central Florida believe it may have had the opposite effect.

After several years of field research in the Rio Verde valley and the Valley of Oaxaca on Mexico’s Pacific coast, Professor Arthur A.Joyce and Associate Professor Sarah Barber found that local religious rituals helped to forge strong small scale community links which delayed the development of large state institutions.

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