From the Chinese and their non-theistic 'cosmos', to polytheistic Indian beliefs, all cultures use religion as an overall guide to the unknown that lays ahead. Religion was a way to make sense of the array of questions that arose as to what would happen after everything that was known ceased, in other words, death. In the 'Old World' Chinese believed that death brought a gradual return to the cosmos, while the Romans, Arabs and Greeks thought that death allowed one to reach a more definitive plain (e.g. Heaven, Hell, the Underworld). Indians and other Chinese thought of death as either a period of time before one was born into his or her next life or a definitive resting place/peace, referred to as Moksha or Nirvana. .
In the New World, Aztecs believed that dying in certain ways led to different post-death existences: a man who died in battle would become a humming bee that would bring on the sunrise, a woman who died in childbirth would be reborn into a goddess that would bring on the sunset, sacrificed victims became one with the sun and a person who died an ordinary, undistinguished death would go to the underworld realm of Mictlan. Mayans had a tradition more similar to the Abrahamic religions; those deemed good would go to a realm similar to Heaven, whereas the guilty and evil would suffer eternally in the Mayan underworld, Xibalba. All of these cultures feature predominant religions that serve as end-games, so to speak, that are not really end-games. The expansion of existence beyond the physical realm of the living seems essential to early societies. .
Another important similarity is the ascension or oppression property, given to religion in every early culture studied, this year. All of these different societies were able to use religion as a way to better some men/women's lives and make others harder and more difficult. In other words, it was distorted to serve the earthly needs of the living.