Did the Roman Army Help Mithraism to Spread? Mithraism and the Roman Military Infrastructure

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CHALUPA Aleš EVA Výtvarová MERTEL Adam JAN Fousek HAMPEJS Tomáš

Year of publication 2021
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description The cause of the rapid and geographically impressive spread of Mithraism in the Roman empire is still only partially explained. Scholars had speculated about the influence of the Roman army and the popularity of Mithraism among Roman soldiers; however, a meticulously conducted demographical study based on Roman epigraphical data problematized this view. To demonstrate the possible impacts of the Roman military infrastructure on the spread of Mithraism in the Roman empire, we coded all sites of documented Mithraic presence and locations of the major Roman legionary fortresses, positioned them on the transportation network, and used statistical analysis to detect the possible relationship between these datasets, both at the level of the whole Roman empire and regionally. Although we were not able to find, at the level of the Roman empire, a statistically significant overlap between the locations of the Roman legionary fortresses and Mithraic sites, we discovered the statistically significant presence of Mithraic evidence in nodes important on thresholded military subnetworks connecting the Roman legionary fortresses. These results support the view that the Roman military infrastructure contributed to the spread of Mithraism and can partially explain the geographical distribution of archaeologically attested Mithraic evidence in the Roman empire.
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