30 November 2017

London Mithraeum: An Ancient Temple in the Heart of London

A new exhibition at Bloomberg SPACE reconstructs an ancient temple and explores the most mysterious religion of the late Roman Empire: The Cult of Mithras, the bull slayer.

Permanent display at the London Mithraeum, Bloomberg Space. Tickets are Free but it is advisable to Book Online.

In post-war London, archaeologists discovered a subterranean river laid bare by the ruins of the blitz. Next to the river they unearthed a Roman settlement.

The conditions of the marshy ground had preserved a wealth of objects such as tablets, jars and rings but most significantly - the head of a young, masculine deity, identified as Mithras.

The god Mithras originated in Persia and first appeared in Roman worship around the 1st century AD. Evidence of small underground buildings dedicated to him, known as ‘Mithraeums’ have been discovered in Rome, Ostia, Numidia, Dalmatia, and along the Danube.

These would have been dark claustrophobic spaces, lit by torchlight. Only the names of higher ranking members of society are associated with the cult, and worship involved complex and mysterious initiation rituals. Exact details of their practices remain obscure…

The original discovery has been reconstructed for the new exhibition. It aims to create a multi- sensory experience combining traditional display with theatrical effects.

Visitors will descend seven metres underground into the temple amid mist, haze, and chanting voices.

Inspired by the spirit of discovery here at Grays (which boasts its own underground river, a lost tributary of the Tyburn) we've selected some of our finest antiquities from the Ancient Roman period...

Roman Male Head, 1st-2nd Century AD. Available at Antique Choices 

Roman Bronze in the Figure of a Bull, 2nd Century AD. Available at Armin Antiques

Micro- Mosaic based on original Ancient Roman Design from the Capitoline, Rome. Available at Peter Szuhay

Terracotta Rhyton in the form of a Bulls Head, 4th Century AD. Available at  Antique Choices

Ancient Roman Cameo of Medusa 4th Century, set in 19th Century Gold Mount. Available at Peter Szuhay

Roman Iridescent Glass Jar, 2nd Century AD. Available at The Solaimani Gallery

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