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The Aquincum Museum houses the fragments of a terracotta object belonging to the finds unearthed in the so-called Symphorus Mithraeum. Careful study and following restoration of the object, previously identified as an architectural ornament in the museum inventory book, made it clear that the fragments belonged to a terracotta sculpture. The surviving parts of the hollow terracotta sculpture suggest that it was a representation of Mithras. This paper does research on which scene in Mithraic iconography this rare terracotta depiction of Mithras was an element of; whether the object can be connected to any other terracotta sculptures of gods originating from the cult place; and whether it was once part of the shrine equipment.

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Summary

During rescue excavations carried out near the vicus at Kempraten (municipality of Rapperswil-Jona, St. Gallen, Switzerland) in advance of a private construction project, a Mithraeum measuring approximately 8 by 10 m was unexpectedly discovered in the summer of 2015 and subsequently excavated and investigated in detail. This paper presents the preliminary results of the excavation, which was completed less than a year ago, and pays particular attention to the interdisciplinary approach used in the excavation. These included intense sampling of the features for the purposes of micromorphology and archaeobiology. Three construction phases with intermittent conflagrations were identified. The question as to whether there was an ante-chamber remains unanswered. The external areas are also quite difficult to interpret, at least for the time being. The rich assemblage of finds, which included numerous coins, pottery, animal bones and a range of religious artefacts (e.g. altars and a half relief), will only be dealt with in a cursory manner here. According to the range of coins, the Mithraeum undoubtedly dated from the late 3rd to the late 4th or early 5th centuries. The site will be analysed by an interdisciplinary team and preliminary work is already underway.

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Very likely due to its modest nature, the Cosa Mithraeum has been mentioned in scholarly publications only four times – each in passing – since its discovery in 1954. This sparse attention, restricted solely to literature on Cosa, has meant that the mithraeum is well-known among those intimately familiar with the colony, but has languished in complete obscurity among Mithraic scholars for the past half century. In addition to bringing the Cosa Mithraeum to the attention of a wider audience, this article also argues for a re-evaluation of the most recent dating of the mithraeum. Recent advances in scholarship on mithraea at Ostia give ample reason to suggest that the original date for the Cosa Mithraeum might be more accurate than later interpreters have assumed. Furthermore, the ongoing excavations of Cosa's bath complex, conducted by Florida State University, Bryn Mawr College, and Tübingen University have revealed a city that was still quite active during the 2nd century CE. In light of these developments, this article is an overdue study of the Cosa Mithraeum and its role in the history of the colony.

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In 2014, during the archaeological investigations carried out by the University of Bologna (Department of History and Cultures – Section of Archaeology), within the Ostia Marina Project, in the suburban neighborhood out of Porta Marina (block IV, ix), a new building has been found with outstanding Mithraic features. The building, for the special type of the marble floor of the spelaeum, has been conventionally called the “Mithraeum of colored marbles”. The spelaeum has a single bench, a ritual well and a flowerbed for a sacred plant. It differs clearly both in form and size from the typical patterns of the mithraea discovered until now in ancient Ostia. On the basis of the currently available data, a very late chronology (end of 4th century AD) can be proposed for the building.

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Three pictorial scenes represented on the walls of the newly discovered Mithraeum in Hawarte (Syria) are deeply rooted in the Middle-Iranian religious world. The pictures of the ‘City of Darkness’, and of ‘The Twin Riders’, as well as that of ‘The Lion and the Demons’, can only be explained by their evident Iranic background. Some of these iconographies are not limited to the Syrian area but are spread all around the Roman world, until London and Vienne-sur-Rhône. Moreover, a possible connection with a heterodox doctrine concerning the post-mortem vehiculated by the Pseudo-Macarius is proposed in this contribution.

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Authors: M. Franquelo, M. Robador, V. Ramírez-Valle, A. Durán, M. Jiménez de Haro and J. Pérez-Rodríguez

Abstract  

Roman ceramics of two hydraulic mortars used to build the pond and water channel of Mithraeum house from Mérida (Spain) have been studied. The sizes of the ceramic fragments found were different in both of the samples studied, showing different behaviour in the reactions with the lime. The X-ray diffraction of the ceramic shows the presence of quartz, mica (biotite), anorthite and hematite accompanied by amorphous phase, being observed scarce vitrification. The presence of mica confirms a firing temperature for manufacturing the ceramic below 900°C. In one of the ceramics studied, X-ray diffraction did not show calcite. However, in the FTIR appear bands that could be assigned to carbonates absorptions and likewise, carbonates were identified in the DTA-TG curves. Ca and small quantities of Si and Al were also identified by SEM-EDX on the surface of the pores that could be due to an amorphous phase formed in the reaction of lime with the Si and Al of the ceramic. On the other hand, in other ceramic samples carbonates (about 10%) were detected. The carbonates have been found filling the pores, sometimes accompanied by a new calcium-aluminium-silicate phase produced by the reaction between the lime and the amorphous phase of the ceramic. The carbonates and the new phases formed inside the pores are responsible for the decrease of the porosity and for the formation of new phases during the heating of the ceramics.

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Summary

Traces of Mithraism in Slovenia are represented by a large number of Mithraea and finds of altars and stones carved with Mithraic symbols. Some of these have been systematically studied and are quite well-known, others are poorly documented and less known. This difference is largely a consequence of factors from antiquity, such as the social status of the dedicators of the monuments and the choice of the location.

Our contribution focuses on the location of these shrines in north-eastern Slovenia, especially at Drava Plain and Ager of Poetovio, one of the most important Mithraic centres. The questions we explore are: where and in what environment were Mithraea built; what is their relationship to other urban structures, traffic routes, natural resources and topography; and what role do they have in their setting within provincial and city boundaries.

The results of our analysis show the heterogeneity of responses to these questions and, consequently, the vitality of the cult of Mithras in the study area.

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The So-called “Mithraic Cave” of Angera

A New Perspective from Archaeological Investigations

Author: Stefano De Togni

Summary

The existence of a mithraeum at Angera (VA, Italy) was assumed for the first time in the 19th century, after the discovery of two Mithraic inscriptions re-used as ornaments of a private garden in the middle of the small town. The location of the alleged mithraeum is still uncertain: the inscriptions have been found out of context, and the place of worship has never been localized.

The “Antro mitraico” (Mithraic Cave), also known as “Tana del Lupo”, is a natural cave situated at the base of the East wall of the cliff on which the Rocca Borromeo (the Castle of Angera) stands. At the cave the most visible archaeological evidences are tens of breaches cut into the outside rocky wall, which probably contained votive inscriptions or stele. These elements denote the use of the cave as a place of worship.

In 1868 Biondelli identified in the cave the location of a Mithraic cult, giving rise to a theory that continues still today. If, on the one hand, the proposal appeared plausible, there is no clear evidence that in the cave a mithraeum was ever set up; besides, the presence of many an ex voto is in conflict with the mysteric ritual practices. This paper is intended to present an analytical study of the monument, with a broader inquiry on the characteristics of mithraea and other sanctuaries within natural caves.

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Summary

In the 2nd and 3rd centuries, Poetovio (modern town of Ptuj in north-eastern Slovenia) was a melting pot of various cultures due to the arrival of various peoples. Mithraea are undoubtedly the most recognisable monuments of Poetovio. As many as five or perhaps even seven Mithraea were discovered in Ptuj and its immediate surroundings: two of them (Breg na Ptuju, Hajdina) are preserved in situ, on the site where they were discovered. During the construction of the local sewage system in 2011, some findings that can be attributed to the Mithras cult were unearthed in the vicinity of the first Mithraeum in Spodnja Hajdina.

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The highest number of mithraea in urban context of the ancient world come from Ostia. Although we do not know the whole city, mithraea have been found in all districts of the town. The spread and fortune of the Mithraic worship are also attested by the plenteous epigraphic and sculptural materials. This research deals with the Mithraism at Ostia, focusing on the particular case of monograms, just mentioned by Giovanni Becatti in his seminal work about mithraea at Ostia, dating back to more than sixty years ago. After the recent discovery of the Mithraeum of colored marbles by the archaeologists of the Ostia Marina Project (University of Bologna), it seems necessary to examine and contextualize the phenomenology of Mithraic monograms at Ostia, as is done in relation to similar processes which involve the Christian world.

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