CIMRM Supplement - Two papyri referencing a "Mithraion" in Egypt.

Two Egyptian papyri of the 3rd c. B.C. refer to a "mithraion". This is probably at Memphis, rather than the Fayum, and probably relates to Persian Mithra rather than the Roman cult.

J.R.Harris writes:1

1J.R.Harris, "Mithras at Hermopolis and Memphis", in: Archaeological research in Roman Egypt,(1996), p.169.
2P. Gurob 22.10-21 and BGU 1936.1-2, which may well refer to the same mithraeum (cf. infra n.4). It is perhaps worth noting that this is the earliest use of the term, and that it does not appear to occur elsewhere in any non-literary text or inscription, either in Greek or in Latin.
3U. Wilcken, ['Referate'], AfP 7 (1924) 71-72; cf. W.J.R. Rübsam, Götter und Külte in Faijum während der griechisch-romisch-byzantinischen Zeit (Bonn 1974) 217; G. Lease, "Mithra in Egypt," in B. A. Pearson and J. E. Goehring (edd.), The roots of Egyptian Christianity (Philadelphia 1986) 118 n.15, 122, 123 n.35.
4It has generally been assumed that the Gurob papyrus relates to a town in the Faiyum, perhaps Philadelphia; but D. J. Thompson, Memphis under the Ptolemies (Princeton 1988) 98-99, makes the point that the temples "sound very Memphite", and elsewhere (275 n.89) associates BGU 1936 too with Memphis. Certainly Memphis would be the most plausible site for a temple of Mithras if, as seems likely, there was a dynastic connection, which may have gone back to the Persian period; cf. Lease (supra n.3) 123 n.35. But such a temple would not have been usable as a Roman mithraeum, and, pace Thompson's suggestion (275 at n.89), should not be confused with any putative building that might have contained the sculptures recovered by Grebaut.
5Rufinus, Hist. eccl. 11.22; Socrates, Hist. eccl. 3.2, 5.16; Sozomenos, Hist. eccl. 5.7 - of whom Sozomenos gives what is clearly the most straightforward account; cf. Cumont (infra n.24) 2.45. Zoega long ago commented on the building: G. Zoega, Abhandlungen, ed. F. G. Welcker (Göttingen 1817) 144.

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