The Sacrifice and the Altar.

Some predators would get through every kind of armour, and could not be driven off. Then it was not a question of whether the predator would take and kill some individual, but rather who it would take. The only way that humans might influence the outcome would be to pre-empt the predator's choice, by offering it one of their number. A human group might, before passing through the territory of such predators, make a present of one of themselves. If the present was accepted, then the group could pass through the territory knowing that the predator was temporarily sated.

In such a calculation might lie the origins of human sacrifice. A young child would usually be given, because such a child would not yet have been invested with skills, and become a useful functional member of the society. Occasionally, a troublesome malefactor would be thrown to the lions.

When humans took to herding sheep and cattle, a lamb or a calf was used instead. In all cases, the sacrificial victim would be killed beforehand, bloodily. The smell of blood would attract the predators. In order to ensure that only a particular large predator took the sacrifice, the offering would be left on a rock or a tree which only that predator could climb onto. Here, perhaps, was the origin of the altar, raised so that a lion could jump up onto it, but not a jackal or hyena.

The practice of sacrifice may well have changed the behaviour of the predators. They may have come to expect it. The predators that followed wandering human tribes may have begun to learn to wait for sacrificial victims to be offered to them, ceasing to bother to hunt elsewhere, getting angry if their food was late. Over time a few of them became domestic cats and dogs.

The predators were deeply feared, and greatly respected. They were sacred. They were the original gods - the bloodthirsty rulers of human life, whose anger could only be assuaged with flesh.

When at last humans had either tamed, killed, or driven off the predators, the old gods were overthrown. The new gods that replaced them were human.