ROMAN MITHRAS CULT UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: NEW INSIGHTS INTO RITUALS THROUGH MICROMORPHOLOGY, HISTOTAPHONOMY AND ZOOARCHAEOLOGY

  • Lo Russo, S. (Speaker)
  • David Brönnimann (Contributor)
  • Sabine Deschler-Erb (Contributor)
  • Christa Ebnöther (Contributor)
  • Philippe Rentzel (Contributor)

Activity: Talk or presentationTalk or presentation at a conference

Description

Roman Mithraism was a mystery cult known in the whole Roman empire. Mithras was worshiped in small communities and the cult actions to be kept (mostly) secret to outsiders.
Our contribution shows the potential soil micromorphology has to study Roman
Mithraism, especially combined with zooarchaeology and histotaphonomy. This study highlights that multiple floor constructions as well as the related deposits and (micro-) artefacts of cultic indoor features are important sources of information - mostly unused in the otherwise broad and interdisciplinary research field. Thanks to the recent micromorphological investigations in two mithraea (Biesheim F, Kempraten CH) and one cult cave (Zillis CH), it was possible to demonstrate that repeatedly spreading combustion residues and renewing the floor was an important part of the cult practices of Mithraism in the studied areas. The combination of micromorphological, histotaphonomical and zooarchaeological approaches enabled a systematic evaluation of thermal alteration and bioerosion (in particular bacterial attack) on animal bone fragments.This allows an identification and differentiation of various
(cult) practices involving animals so far unknown to Roman Mithraism.
Our results suggest that a cult practice consisting of several stages was carried out on all three sites under study – a ritual so far unknown.
Period8 Sep 2021
Event title27th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists: Widening Horizons
Event typeConference
Conference number27
LocationKiel, Germany
Degree of RecognitionInternational