The end of paganism in the north-western provinces of the Roman Empire: the example of the Mithras cult
The decline of Mithraism in the fourth century AD is used as a case-study for understanding the end of other classes of `paganism' in the Roman western provinces. The author reviews epigraphic and numismatic evidence to date the final uses of Mithraea. He then discusses examples of wilful damage to Mithraic monuments. Drawing all this archaeological evidence into a historical framework, Sauer argues that rather than losing its social function as the Roman army became splintered, Mithraism was a healthy religion with active shrines until the very late fourth century. Rather than fading away, its desecrated monuments indicate that the religion was the victim of a sustained Christian attack which was also directed at other established faiths in the western provinces.
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Chronology and interpretation of the dating evidence
Datable dedications to deities later than AD 235 found in Britain
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abandonment Alamanni altars archaeological Baden-Wurttemberg Biesheim Birley building Caernarfon Carrawburgh certainly Christian CIMRM Clauss coin deposits coins found Constantine Corbridge course cult images cult relief Cumont damage datable dating deities depiction destruction diagrams Dieburg discussed emperor end of Mithraism epigraphic EPRO especially example excavation findspot FMRD fourth century Frankfurt Gaul Germania Germanic Gillam Hadrian's Wall Henig Huld-Zetsche iconoclasts imperial indicate interpretation Kastell large number late antique late fourth later latest coin layers Leiden London M.-Heddernheim Mackwiller Magnentius marble minted Mithraea Mithraeum Mithraic Mithraic monuments Mithraic sanctuary Mithraism Mithras cult Mithras mysteries Noethlichs number of coins numismatic evidence obviously pagan pagan monuments period Planck possible probably religion religious monuments reused Rhine Ritterling Roman Britain Roman Empire Romische romischen Ruckingen Rudchester Sarrebourg Schwertheim 1974 sculpture smashed Sol Invictus stone monuments Stuttgart temple of Mithras testimonies third century crisis Trier Turcan Vermaseren Virunum votaries Wible Wiesbaden worship Zeitschr