Sanctuary of Mithras cult found in Spain

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(ORDO NEWS) — Spanish archaeologists, during excavations on the territory of an ancient Roman luxurious villa in the modern city of Cabra, discovered a previously unknown sanctuary dedicated to the cult of the god Mithras.

Excavations were carried out on the territory of Villa del Mitra – this is the name of a luxurious Roman villa previously discovered by archaeologists, built in the first century AD. It was located on the territory of the Roman city of Lycabrum, and now the Spanish city of Cabra is located here.

The villa was named after the sculpture of Mithras discovered here, an ancient deity whose cult arose in the first century AD and rapidly spread throughout the Roman Empire. Mithra was originally an Indo-Iranian deity. However, then this god was romanized.

In Cabra, a richly decorated statue from the second century AD was found, which depicted Mithra sacrificing a bull, a symbol of death and resurrection. The first finds were made here back in 1972-73.

And only now a joint team of archaeologists from the University of Malaga, the University of Madrid Carlos III and the University of Cordoba have unearthed the remains of a sanctuary dedicated to Mithra.

Preliminary analysis showed that the temple was built in the second century AD, that is, its age coincides with the age of the previously discovered statue of Mithras.

Probably, the sanctuary was gradually completed and expanded. The second phase of capital construction falls on the third century AD.

The sanctuary is a rectangular room measuring 7.2 by 2.5 meters, located southwest of the main house of the villa. It had a narrow entrance. To get to the sanctuary, one had to go down the stairs.

The fact is that in ancient Rome, the sanctuaries of Mithra were traditionally underground. The temple itself was a room with two stone benches on the sides.

Scholars suggest that these pews were used by parishioners who sat on them during rituals and held feasts in honor of Mithras. In a dark layer thickly covering the floor, the researchers found the fragmented remains of pigs, birds and rabbits.

This testifies to the preparation of food during ritual feasts. In ancient times, the temple probably also contained a sculpture that was attached to the wall – Roman bricks with two holes found in the masonry testify to this.


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