Sanctuary of Mithras was discovered in Spain | Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
A 1,800-year-old sanctuary of the god Mithras has been discovered in Spain. The discovery was made during excavations at a Roman villa (the so-called Villa del Mitra) in Cabra, southern Spain.
The villa itself dates back to the 1st century CE. In the past, remains of a sculpture of Mithras were found on the site; hence the name of the object.
The discovered temple dates back to the 2nd century CE. The property has a typical round room with a narrow entrance. There are two long stone benches by the walls. Terracotta figurines were placed in the preserved niches, and mosaics depicting pigs, birds and rabbits were preserved on the floor. These animals were sacrificed and then eaten during feasts organized for followers of Mithraism in the sanctuary.
Mithraism was a popular cult in ancient Rome. The cult of Mithras in Rome began to spread in the first century CE during the reign of the Flavian dynasty. From the 2nd century CE, the cult spread to every corner of the Empire. The cult of Mithras was highly elitist and exclusive, which basically closed its way to the masses. It was especially popular among legionaries.