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Ancient Sanctuary Dedicated to God Mithras Found in Spain

god Mithras
The remains of the sanctuary of God Mithras in Spain, Credit: James Narmer/CC BY SA 4.0

The remains of a sanctuary dedicated to the god Mithras, along with leftovers from ritual banquets, have been found during excavations at the Villa del Mitra in Cabra, Spain.

According to Heritage Daily, the discovery was made by archaeologists from the University of Málaga, the Carlos III University of Madrid, and the University of Córdoba. The team uncovered the remains of the Mithras sanctuary, which dates back to the 2nd century AD with a second construction phase in the late 3rd century AD.

The sanctuary is a rectangular room, located to the southwest of the domus, with dimensions of 7.2 by 2.5 meters (24 by 8 feet). It features a narrow entrance that leads down several steps into the sanctuary, which is comprised of two stone benches along the walls.

The team believes that these benches were used by worshipers who would sit and perform rituals and engage in banquets in honor of Mithras.

The floor of the room was covered in a dark burnt layer, which upon closer inspection revealed fragmented remains of pigs, birds, and rabbits. This evidence suggests that cooking took place during the ritual banquets.

Mithras was considered by Greeks and Romans as a sun god

Mithras was the Iranian god of the sun, justice, contract, and war in pre-Zoroastrian Iran. Known as Mithras in the Roman Empire during the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE, this deity was honored as the patron of loyalty to the emperor.

The Greeks and Romans considered Mithra as a sun god. He was probably also the god of kings. He was the god of mutual obligation between the king and his warriors and, hence, the god of war. He was also the god of justice, which was guaranteed by the king. Whenever people observed justice and contract, they venerated Mithra.

After the acceptance of Christianity by the emperor Constantine in the early 4th century, Mithraism rapidly declined, Britannica says.

Mithraic sanctuaries and dedications to Mithra are numerous at Rome and Ostia, along the military frontier, in Britain, and on the Rhine, the Danube, and the Euphrates. Few dedications are found in peaceful provinces; when they do occur, the dedicator is usually a provincial governor or an imperial official, per Britannica.

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