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Sanctuary dedicated to Mithras found at the Villa del Mitra

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Archaeologists excavating at the Villa del Mitra, located in the city of Cabra, Spain, have found a sanctuary dedicated to Mithras.

During the 1st century AD, a cult dedicated to Mithras emerged that spread to all corners of the Roman Empire. Worship was a Romanised form of the Indo-Iranian god Mithra, although the level of continuity between Persian and Greco-Roman practice is debated.

The Villa del Mitra is a Roman villa dating from the 1st century AD, in what was the Roman city of Licabrum. The villa is named after the Mitra de Cabra sculpture discovered in situ, an ornate 2nd century AD statue which depicts Mithras sacrificing a bull, a symbol of death and resurrection.

The first official excavation of the villa was carried out in 1972-73, discovering a courtyard containing a pond, and several adjacent rooms with mosaic flooring. Ongoing excavations in 1981 found the remains of a hypocaust, a system of underfloor heating, and several coins depicting Philip the Arab, Diocletian, and Valentinian II.

The central pond in the Villa del Mitra – Image Credit : James Narmer – CC BY SA 4.0

Recent excavations conducted by archaeologists from the University of Málaga, the Carlos III University of Madrid, and the University of Córdoba, have discovered the remains of a sanctuary dedicated to Mithras that dates from the 2nd century AD, with a second construction phase from the end of the 3rd century AD.

The sanctuary is a rectangular room located to the southwest of the domus, measuring 7.2 by 2.5 metres. It has a narrow entrance, that descends several steps leading into the sanctuary that has two flanking stone benches.

The team suggest that these benches were used by worshipers who would sit to perform rituals and conduct feasts in honour of Mithras. The walls have fragments of Roman bricks, one of which has two holes or niches which would likely have held a tauroctony sculpture.

A dark burnt layer covers the floor, which upon a closer examination has revealed fragmented remains of pigs, birds and rabbits, suggesting evidence of cooking during the ritual banquets.

el Dia De Cordoba

Header Image Credit : el Dia De Cordoba

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Trove of Roman objects linked to feasting found at Ostia antica

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Archaeologists have uncovered a trove of Roman objects linked to ritual feasting at Ostia antica.

Ostia Antica is an ancient harbour town located at the mouth of the Tiber River. The harbour served as the main port for Rome, transporting goods and people from the coast along the Via Ostiensis.

Archaeologists recently excavated the area of Regio I – Insula XV, a “sacred area” or precinct housing several temples and sanctuaries. At the centre is the temple of Hercules,  a 31 x 16 metre monument which dates from the Republican Era.

Excavations have revealed a substantial well situated at the base of the temple of Hercules. Upon draining the well, it was discovered to hold a significant collection of objects dating from the 1st to 2nd century AD.

Among the objects are various ceramics, miniatures, lamps, glass containers, fragments of marble, and burnt animal bones (pigs and cattle). According to the archaeologists, the trove corresponds with ritual feasting associated with cult at the temple.

In a press statement by the Ministry of Culture: “The discovery of burnt bones confirms that animal sacrifices were carried out in the sanctuary, while the common ceramics, also bearing traces of fire, indicate that the meat was cooked and consumed during banquets in honour of divinity. The remains of one or more ritual meals were thrown into the well, the last ones probably when their function had ceased.”

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Culture

Sources : Ministry of Culture

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Labyrinthine structure discovered from the Minoan civilisation

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Archaeologists have discovered a monumental labyrinthine structure on the summit of Papoura Hill in Crete.

The discovery was made during the installation of a radar system in preparation for the construction of a new airport in the area.

According to experts, the structure dates from between 2000 to 1700 BC shortly before or at the start of the palaeopalatial Minoan period.

The Minoan civilisation was a Bronze Age culture that emerged on the island of Crete around 3100 BC. The culture is known for the monumental architecture and energetic art, and is often regarded as the first civilisation in Europe.

Image Credit : Greek Ministry of Culture

The chronology of the Minoans is characterised into three distinct phases – Early Minoan (EM), Middle Minoan (MM), and Late Minoan (LM).

The palaeopalatial structure is part of the MMI – II grouping in the Middle Minoan, a period in which the first palaces were built and saw the development of the Minoan writing systems, Cretan hieroglyphic and Linear A.

The structure comprises of 8 concentric stone rings that converge on a central circular building. The entire diameter of the complex measures 48 metres and covers an area of approximately 1800 square metres.

Within the central structure are four designated zones in which radial walls intersect vertically and form a labyrinthine structure. Zones A and B appear to be have the main concentration of human activity, evidenced by the presence of large amounts of animals bones.

According to the experts, this residential area likely had a truncated cone or vaulted appearance and is the first monument of this type excavated in Crete. It can perhaps be paralleled with the elliptical MM building of the Chamezi Archaeological Site, as well as with the so-called circular proto-Hellenic cyclopean building of Tiryns.

The Minister of Culture, said: “This is a unique and highly significant find. Solutions are in place to ensure the completion of the archaeological research and the protection of the monument.”

Header Image Credit : Greek Ministry of Culture

Sources : Greek Ministry of Culture

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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