With startling uniformity, civilizations in Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Americas all began with some rather savage tendencies. With no regard to race, ethnicity, or language, the earliest stages of human cultures featured practices like “exposure” or “abandonment” - historians use these words to describe the practice of leaving unwanted babies in the wilderness.
Perhaps most shocking, every known human civilization on earth practiced, in its initial periods, human sacrifice. They were under the influence of a pre-religious or proto-religious mindset which focused on myth and magic - the attempt to explain and control natural - instead of on a relationship to the deity which forms the core of a more mature religion.
Humans were sacrificed to obtain good weather, good harvests, or military victories. The best and brightest were sacrificed: young, healthy, and good-looking.
The histories of the Old World and the New World are parallel in this regard, as historian Michael Salemink writes:
Abortion, abandonment, and outright infanticide ran as rampant in pre-Columbian America, tribal Africa, the Far East, and the South Pacific as it once had in imperial lands. Ritual human sacrifice and slave trading predominated nearly universally in these cultures as well. Women and children, along with ailing, impoverished, and aged people, faced prevalent neglect, if not absolute contempt. Hindus, Scandinavians, Chinese, Maori, and some Native American communities cremated widows alive in their husbands’ funeral pyres. Euthanasia and cannibalism commonly occurred.
While Hammurabi and Homer may have been geniuses, they and their societies still had not yet developed those hallmarks - a regard for every human life as valuable, and a regard for the liberty of the individual - which mark Western Civilization and Eurocentric culture.
It would take centuries of slow progress, often against resistance, from Abraham to Moses, from Jesus to Augustine, before these concepts - the dignity and value of every human life, and the prominence of personal freedom - established themselves as central cultural edifices.
Civilization took a long time to become civilized!