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Mithraeum of the Coloured Marble

The Mitreo dei Mitreo dei Marmi Colorati takes its name after the discovery of a black-and-white mosaic of Pan fighting with Eros
31 Dec 2020
  • Upper view of the Mithraeum 

  • The Inn of the Deity Pan seen from the north-west.
    S. De Togni, 2015. 

  • In this reconstruction of the "Mithraeum of Colored Marbles" the spelaeum, the most important room in the mithraeum, is shown on the bottom level.
    G. Albertini 

The Inn of the Deity Pan and the Mithraeum of the Coloured Marble were discovered in 2014 by the Ostia Marina Project (University of Bologna, under the direction of Massimiliano David). The name was given to the inn after the discovery of a black-and-white mosaic in room 3, with a depiction of Pan fighting with Eros. The mithraeum is not just a single room, but a mithraic complex that completely occupied the inn. The name derives from the multicoloured marble floor of the spelaeum.

The inn was entirely built in opus vittatum mixtum technique, dated to the mid-third century AD. A horseshoe-shaped bar-counter has been found in the south-east corner of room 5. Not preserved, it has been individuated thanks to the peculiar shape of the black-and-white mosaic frame. Room 3 was the central hall of the caupona. The floor of this hall is an excellent black-and-white mosaic, of which about half of the original extension has been preserved. Depicted are kantharoi in the corners surrounded by a complex pattern of grapevines. In the central panel is the figure of Pan fighting with Eros, which gives the building its name.

In the second half of the fourth century AD there were major alterations in the building. The main access from Via della Marciana was closed with masonry, and an entire new decorative program was set up of frescos imitating marble. Some graffiti on the paintings are related to the cult of Mithras. In room 1 the spelaeum of the mithraeum was installed. It has a niche for the throne of the pater, a ritual well with a marble head, and a single bench.


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