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Mithriaca II. The Mithraeum at Ponza

Maarten Jozef Vermaseren

Second volume of Vermaseren's series Études préliminaires aux religions orientales dans l'Empire romain, Mithriaca, dedicated to a small Mithraic sanctuary on the island of Ponza in the Tyrrhenian Sea.

It is now more than thirty-five years ago that Professor Ferdinand Jozef de Waele guided my first steps in the rich field of archaeology at the University of Nijmegen. This compatriot of Franz Cumont and pupil of C. W. Vollgraff showed me the way to the study of the cult of Mithras and the other oriental religions and, in so doing, towards the Universities of Utrecht, Paris and Rome. May this small book be a witness to a true friendship which came into being in difficult times near the Castra of Ulpia Noviomagus. This book contains only a few pages, but these treat for the first time an unique and precious document of Roman Art and Religion-the zodiac of the isle of Ponza.

During my study of the Mithraeum of Ponza in August 1969 I was assisted by my wife, Mrs M. E. C. Vermaseren-van Haaren, and Miss Margreet B. de Boer. Permission for publication has kindly been given by Professor Pietro Griffo, former Soprintendente of Lazio, and Dottore Baldo Conticello. The beautiful photographs are the work of Antonio Solazzi and the careful drawings that of my friend Ottorino Cappabianca.

The sketch of the zodiac and the map of Ponza have been drawn by Mrs Franca and Mr Joop Derksen. Last but not least must be mentioned that our work at Ponza was facilitated in the most friendly way by the late D'Arco Biagio and his daughter Teresa. They have been the real conservators of this interesting archaeological monument. I should also like to thank Mr T. A. Edridge for his help with the English of this volume.

I think I can be sure that the pages about the constellation of the Bears will interest all bear lovers and especially two small friends Richard Maarten Harris (Copenhagen) and Marc Maarten Derksen (Vianen).

—M. J. Vermaseren


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