So, a friend just pointed me at this; Winged Gods and walking griffons: A plate with a depiction of Scythian Gods has been found in Middle Don.
Oh, really? Dear archaeologists: nowadays we depict famous singers with wings and the like. Doesn't mean we consider them literal deities1. Is that what your colleagues will assume about our present civilization in two thousand years?
1) Or rather: we kind of treat them that way, but we're also in on the joke.
The Ancients weren't stupid. In fact they were mostly like us. Except for one thing: they had a very different worldview. Even today, other cultures don't share the western civilization's obsession with a pretend, impossible scientific objectivity, and instead adopt more nuanced stances.
Which reminds me that European alchemists likely didn't believe in literal angels and demons. They were simply trying to build a conceptual framework for dealing with new discoveries, and their language included spirituality because it was part of their lives. How else? We've tried reductionism, and look where it got us: treating people like cogs in a machine. Abstractions. Statistics.
They weren't any smarter than us in the past, either. But often much wiser.