Mitreo della Cripta di Balbo

Photo: Dssa Laura Vendittelli


[...] The whole area continued to be intensively settled in late antique Rome, and the upper levels have revealed extensive industrial activity, including glass-blowing, and bronze-founding. After ceasing for a while in the early 1990s, the excavations were continued recently under the direction of Prof. Daniele Manacorda, and in 2000 the remains of a large mithraeum were discovered on the ground floor of the porticus immediately to the South of the apsidal development in the centre of the Eastern perimeter wall, marked in Richardson's map as a series of large vaults. These have now been shown to have reached a height of four storeys, so that the mithraeum was in the middle of a densely populated insula. The overall dimensions of the temple were 31.5m long and ca. 12 m wide, and it could be entered from several points. It seems to have been founded in the late Antonine or early Severan period (ca. 200 AD), and to have ceased to be used as a mithraeum some time in the later fourth century AD, though these dates are still somewhat speculative. Some time after its closure as a mithraeum, it was completely filled with rubble, which, as in the case of S. Prisca on the Aventine, has made the task of determining what materials belong to the mithraeum and what is adventitious particularly difficult. But a large fragment of an early third-century bull-killing relief, altars and a number of multi-nozzled lamps certainly belong to the temple. [...]

Extracted from the Electronic Journal of Mithraic Studies, Universidad de Huelva