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Summary

In 2014 the discovery of a Mithras' statue at Tarquinia occurred. This was due to the Comando Tutela Patrimonio Culturale dell'Arma dei Carabinieri, which informed the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dell'Etruria Meridionale about clandestine activities in May 2014 on the poggio della Civita – where the ancient city of Tarquinia stood – in a zone close to the Etruscan temple of the Ara della Regina (fig. 1).

As soon as possible, the Soprintendenza carried out an archaeological excavation, focusing the effort on the need to find evidence for the place of origin of the magnificent sculptural group (fig. 2), which represents Mithras Tauroctonus. This sculpture was recovered by the Carabinieri after investigation by the police, directed by the Procura della Repubblica of the law court of Rome.

Archaeological research since then has led to the discovery of another marble part of the same sculpture (fig. 3), i.e., the dog leaning on the knee of the bull and perfectly dovetailing with the Mithraic Tauroctony. The discovery of another fragment pertaining to the same sculpture is an irrefutable proof that the Mithras' statue came from the domus of the Civita of Tarquinia, which represents an important and new scientific result.

The only other sculptural group depicting Mithras in Southern Etruria was one previously found in Vulci, discovered in 1975 after a clandestine excavation close to the domus del Criptoportico. This new finding proves the spread of this cult in Tarquinia, as well, and the style of the new sculpture suggests a chronological priority of the Tarquinian Mithraeum in respect to that in Vulci.

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Authors: Ágnes Bencze and Csaba Szabó

religious experience . Ph.D. thesis and book project Szabó–Szabó–Nagy 2016 Cs. Szabó – Á. Szabó – L. Nagy : The mysteries of Mithras in the Danubian provinces. Conference panel . Tarquinia, June, 2016 forthcoming. Tóth 2015 Tóth I. : Pannoniai

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