Mithras in the News

A couple of items of interest relating to the worship of Mithras. First, remains of a Mithraeum have been found in Iraq’s Duhok province. Here’s the incipit of a piece (ultimately from Bloomberg, it turns out) in St. Louis Today:

A temple built by followers of Mithraism, a mystery cult that flourished throughout the Roman Empire from the second to third centuries A.D., has been discovered in Iraq’s northern Duhok province.

The temple, which consists of three parts, lies in the Badri Mountains in eastern Duhok, and includes a place for prayer facing the sun, the province’s antiquities director, Hassan Ahmed Qassim, said in a statement to the website of President Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party.

“This discovery is important in helping to understand and learn the region’s history, and the important stages it passed through,” Qassim was quoted by Aswat al-Iraq newspaper as telling a news conference at Duhok University.

The other big news regarding Mithras was the recovery, by Italian police, of a very impressive relief depicting the divinity. The incipit of the AdnKronos coverage:

An 2000-year-old marble monument featuring the pagan god Mithras has been found outside Rome by Italian police who believe it was to have been illegally sold abroad. The large marble bas-relief which dates from the 2nd century AD was recovered by authorities in a house north of the capital, according to a report in the Italian daily, Il Messaggero.

Police said the monument was to be sold to China or Japan and transported via the United Arab Emirates.

The relief, made of white Carrara marble and weighing 1,500 kilogrammes, comes from Vejo – a former Etruscan city that flourished in the 5th century BC – and shows the god Mithras slaying a bull.

Agents from the Italian tax police or Guardia di Finanza said the piece was recovered from an old house in the Roman countryside.

According to a statement by Italian tax police, the operation “allowed us to also discover an archaeological site previously unknown to authorities.”

Police said the tomb robbers were four Italians who planned to ship the piece to the UAE and then sell it on the Chinese or Japanese black market.

Oddly enough, the only decent photo of the relief is in a Finnish newspaper:

from Suomen Kuvalehti
from Suomen Kuvalehti

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