Veneration of the dead  

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"With the growth of communities, social organization, and trade and industry, monumental stone structures appear. Dolmens (dol, table, and men, stone), tombs or monuments to the dead, consisted of several stones set on end with a covering slab, hence the name. Single megaliths, menhirs (men, stone, hir, long), at times seventy feet high, were set up on end individually, or were arranged in long rows, as at Carnac in Brittany. Their purpose, though not clear, may have had to do with a cult of the dead or the worship of the sun." --Gardner's Art Through the Ages (1926) by Helen Gardner

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Veneration of the dead or ancestor reverence is based on the belief that the dead have a continued existence and/or possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living. Some groups venerate their direct, familial ancestors; some faith communities, in particular the Catholic Church, venerate saints as intercessors with God.

In some Eastern, African and Afro-Diasporic cultures the goal of ancestor veneration is to ensure the ancestors' continued well-being and positive disposition towards the living, and sometimes to ask for special favours or assistance. The social or non-religious function of ancestor veneration is to cultivate kinship values, such as filial piety, family loyalty, and continuity of the family lineage. While far from universal, ancestor veneration occurs in societies with every degree of social, political, and technological complexity, and it remains an important component of various religious practices in modern times.

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