Underground Mithras temple discovered in Turkey

An ancient temple dedicated to god Mithras was unearthed by archaeologists in the vicinity of the Turkish city of Diyarbakir.

The underground 4th century temple was discovered by archaeologists working at Zerzevan Castle located in Diyarbakir province, and apparently served as a gathering place for Roman nobles who participated in the cult of Mithras.

The head of the excavations and academic at Dicle University’s archaeology department, Aytaş Coşkun, said the temple was the only Mithras one on the eastern border of the Roman Empire, which attributes more to its significance.  

The goddess Mithras was popular and highly beloved among Roman soldiers, according to Coşkun. 

 “The believers of this religion were a closed group of people, as their ceremonies were totally closed and clandestine. Mithras is the goddess of sun and it also symbolizes the agreement. Generally, temples were built underground. We see three niches in the eastern part of the temple. In one of the niches, there is a very nice water basin. There is a pool on the ground. We know that water was very important in Mithras ceremonies and around 40 people used to attend these ceremonies,” the Hurriyet daily cited him as saying.

Coşkun said Mithraism lost its influence as Christianity became more popular, adding that the religion’s most prevalent age was the time when the underground temple was being built.

He said the temple was 35 meters in width and 2.5 meters in height. “Generally, they were not very big structures since they were established underground,” he added.

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