a, Time series showing mean social complexity over time for 2,000 years before and after the appearance of moralizing gods. n = 12 regions with social complexity data for before and after moralizing gods. Social complexity has been scaled so that the society with the highest social complexity (Qing Dynasty, China, around ad 1900) has a value of 1 and the society with the lowest social complexity (Early Woodland, Illinois, USA, around 400 bc) has a value of 0. Vertical bands represent the period in which moralizing gods and doctrinal rituals first appeared. All errors represent 95% confidence intervals, with the exception of the vertical bar for moralizing gods, which represents the mean duration of the polity in which moralizing gods appeared (because times are normalized to the time of first evidence of moralizing gods, and there is thus no variance in this parameter). b, Histogram of the differences in rates of change in social complexity (SC) after minus before the appearance of moralizing gods. n = 200 time windows from the 12 regions. kyr, thousand years. The y axis represents the number of time windows out of 200. See Extended Data Fig. 1 for data for each of the 12 regions and Extended Data Fig. 2 for a version extending beyond 2,000 years before and after moralizing gods. The analyses in this figure treat the presence of either MHG or BSP as ‘moralizing gods’—see Extended Data Fig. 3 for an alternative analysis restricted only to the presence of MHG.