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A secret ritual area was discovered in the temple of Mithras in Zerzevan Castle

A secret ritual was discovered in the Temple of Mithras in Zerzevan Castle, which was used as a “military settlement” during the Roman Empire.

Zerzevan Castle, where the Temple of Mithras is located, is located in Diyarbakır province in southeastern Türkiye.

The monumental gate of the 1,900-year-old Mithras Temple in Zerzevan Fortress has been reached

The temple in the castle is known as the last Mithras temple in the world.

Excavations were started in 2014 in the historical Zerzevan castle, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List. The excavations have so far uncovered 12-15 meter high and 1200 meter long fortifications, a 21 meter high watch and defense tower, a church, an administration building, residences, grain and weapon storages, rock tombs, water channels, 54 water cisterns, an underground church, an underground shelter for 400 people, residences and secret passages.

A secret ritual area was discovered in the temple of Mithras in Zerzevan Castle
Photo: AA

During the excavations carried out with the contributions of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Diyarbakır Museum, Çınar District Governorship and Dicle University, the underground temple of the Mithras religion and the area where secret rituals were organized were unearthed this year.

Head of Excavation Assoc. Prof. Dr. Aytaç Coşkun told AA correspondent that this year they continued excavations in the sanctuary of Mithras, the most important area of the castle in Zerzevan Castle.

A secret ritual area was discovered in the temple of Mithras in Zerzevan Castle
Photo: AA

Stating that the Mithras sanctuary was found by chance in 2017 and that they did not know that there was a structure belonging to the Mithras belief when they started excavations in this region, Coşkun said, “It is the last Mithras sanctuary found in the world. Mithras is the esoteric and mystery belief of the Roman Empire. Its ceremonies and rites are secret. All these secret ceremonies and rites are carried out in underground structures and temples in Zerzevan Castle. During the excavations, we found places where people who came from different parts of the Roman Empire at certain times of the year and belonged to esoteric beliefs stayed. We continue excavations in this area. We will present the studies to the scientific world.”

Coşkun said that with the excavations here, they have reached information about this mysterious belief, about which there are no written documents, and presented it to the scientific world, and that they plan to complete the work in the ritual area by the end of the year.

Cover Photo: Aziz Aslan/AA

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