Bettany Hughes is careful not to tread on any toes, but it's difficult not to tell the story of the development of religion without making the Abrahamic gods- with their tantrums and lace-curtain twitching- seem a little provincial, tribal and Johnny-come-lately. Once upon a time there was a Goddess with huge breasts and buttocks who sat between two lions and presided over the settlement of the land. According to the latest thought, which is based on the latest archaeology, her shrines predate the earliest cities. Later her uppity children- like the deeply unattractive Zeus- pushed her back into the shadows, from which she was wont to emerge when their flashier powers proved insufficient. Thunderbolts are one thing, the gifts of birth and death quite another. When Rome was up against it in the form of Carthage her people- in response to a Sibylline oracle- preserved the city by fetching the image of Kybele from its home in Asia Minor and installing it on the site of what is now (harumph) St. Peter's in Rome. In India, of course, she has never been relegated. Hughes dedicated her last quarter of an hour or so to the Durga Puja in Kolkata- all drumming and face-painting and the throwing of statues in the river. It looked a lot more fun than Easter or Eid.