It is one of the largest archaeological sites in the world and, together with Pompeii, the best example of a Roman city that has come down to us. The first colony of Rome, once the port of the Eternal City and the landing point of the main merchant routes of the Mediterranean, still reveals surprises and the treasures discovered by chance are often the most surprising. Thus, during the restoration work of the House of the Stucco Capitals, a sumptuous residence of the Republican age that remained in use throughout the history of Ostia, the archaeologists found the lower part of a relief of the god Mithras in an underground environment.
The fragment, about one meter long, is a rare representation of the divinity made in painted stucco, which will now have to be analyzed and restored. It depicts Mithras in the act of sacrificing the bull, a typical iconography of this oriental divinity whose cult was widespread in the central centuries of the Empire. The god’s followers gathered in secret places, often underground, made to remember the mythical cave in which Mithras was born. With the latest discovery, 20 mithraea have been found in Ostia: a confirmation of a multi-ethnic and intercultural society where all cults could coexist.