The Roman Cult of Mithras and Religion of Roman Soldiers : What Can We Learn from Network Analysis of Mithraic Evidence?



Year of publication 2022
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 understood. Scholars had speculated about the influence of the Roman army and the popularity of Mithraism among Roman soldiers. However, a meticulously conducted demographical study of Mithraic epigraphy problematized this view. To demonstrate the possible influence 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 a possible relationship between these datasets, both at the level of the whole Roman empire and regionally. Although we did not 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 army infrastructure contributed to the spread of Mithraism and can partially explain the geographical distribution of archaeologically attested Mithraic evidence in the Roman Empire but cannot be seen as a single factor playing a role in the transmission of Mithraism.
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