Saturday, November 12, 2011

The date of the Mithraeum of San Clemente in Rome at Roger Pearse

The date of the Mithraeum of San Clemente in Rome at Roger Pearse

November 9th, 2011 by Roger Pearse

Someone online told me today that the Mithraeum underneath the church of San Clemente in Rome was first century.  Of course I knew that Mithraic archaeology starts ca. 100, so I wondered what date the Mithraeum really was.

The Mithraeum was discovered by an Irish father, Fr. Joseph Mullooly, whose publication Saint Clement (1873) is online says that the Mithraeum was discovered in 1869, but because of ground water excavation only became possible in 1914, that it is "of the early third century" and gives references of E. Junyent, Il titolo di San Clemente in Roma (1932), p.66-81; Vermaseren Corpus 1.156-59; and Nash (?) 2.75-78.  It is  unfortunate that none of this material is accessible online.  It would be useful to know more.

Thanks to the generosity of a friend, there is mention in JSTOR in an American journal of a 1915 article by Franz Cumont:

In C. R. Acad. Insc. [?] 1915, pp.203-211 (3 figs) F. Cumont reports on "recent archaeological work in the cellar of the church of Saint Clement in Rome.  This church rests upon the foundations of a temple of Mithra built at some unknown date in  a large house of the time of Augustus.  After much trouble water was diverted from the site which is now dry and open to inspection.  Part of a heavy wall belonging to the republican period can now be seen. Recent discoveries include a fountain which stood before the temple; numerous remains of animals, especially of wild boars; and part of the altar discovered in 1859.  It is inscribed CN. ARRIVS. CLAVDIANUS | PATER POSUIT. and dates from the end of the second century A.D.  The head of a solar deity found in 1869 is of the same date.

Don't you just hate abbreviations?  Thanks to Google and some guessing, it seems to be " Comptes Rendus de l'Academie des Inscriptions".  Thankfully French journals are starting to come online, thanks to, and the CRAI is here.  A  bit of poking around and the article proves to be Découvertes nouvelles au Mithréum de Saint-Clément à Rome.   But it doesn't give us much.

The need for access to the Vermaseren's CIMRM online remains acute.

  1. [1] Fr. Joseph Mullooly, Saint Clement, Pope and martyr, and his basilica in Rome, Rome, 1873.[/ref].  A recent topographical dictionary[]Lawrence Richardson, A new topographical dictionary of ancient Rome, p.257: preview here.