Print this page

The Mystery of Mithras. Exploring the heart of a roman cult

Mithréum de Capoue (c) Su concessione della Direzione Regionale Musei Campania

The Royal Museum of Mariemont takes us on an initiatory tour into the cult of the god Mithras, one of the most mysterious cults of Roman Antiquity.

Practical informations 

"The Mystery of Mithras. Exploring the heart of a roman cult"

Exhibition from: November 20, 2021 to April 17, 2022

Address: 100 chaussée de Mariemont, 7140 Morlanwelz, Belgium

Hours: Museum open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (November - March) / 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (April). Last admission 45 minutes before closing. Museum closed on December 25 and January 1

Relief tauroctonique et statues de Cautès et Cautopatès, mithraeum III at Frankfurt-Heddernheim (c) Archäologisches Museum Frankfurt
Picasso-Mithra, Ernest Pignon-Ernest, 1992 (c) Ernest Pignon-Ernest, Courtesy Galerie Lelong et Co
Relief de léontocéphale, mithréum de Bordeaux (c) Mairie de Bordeaux-Lysiane Gauthier, Collection Musée d’Aquitaine
Photo de Franz Cumont et Mikhaïl Rostovtzeff au mithréum de Doura-Europos (c) Yale University Art Gallery
Planche gravée sur cuivre de l’"Origine de tous les cultes", Charles-François Dupuis, Paris 1795 (c) Musée royal de Mariemont

The Royal Museum of Mariemont takes us on an initiatory tour into the cult of the god Mithras, one of the most mysterious cults of Roman Antiquity.

Mithras, who was a god of Persian origins, reinvented by the Romans, generated an immensely popular cult throughout the Roman Empire between the 1st and 4th centuries. His persona attracted thousands of followers who practised specific rituals within discreet communities and in underground locations, as evidenced by more than 150 sanctuaries uncovered all over Europe, from Scotland to North Africa, from Syria to Spain.

 

Living research ... open on today's society 

This exhibition invites you to discover this enigmatic cult and unravel the Mystery of Mithras … Why was this cult organized out of sight? Why did Mithras know such success up to the point of appearing as a rival to Christ? To answer such questions, the exhibition features spectacular archaeological artifacts and recent finds which are unveiled for the first time. Over a hundred artworks are shown, coming from both public and private collections in more than fifteen European countries.

 

The exhibition is presented in partnership with the Saint-Raymond Museum in Toulouse and the Archaeological Museum of Frankfurt and proposes a vast accompanying cultural program. It creates wonderful synergies with the Mariemont Museum’s collections, which were developed under the guidance of Franz Cumont, an eminent scholar on the Ancient East and close friend of Mariemont estate’s founder Raoul Warocqué.

 

Mithras yesterday and today 

Thanks to new technologies, an immersive scenography initiates visitors into the cult of Mithras leading up to a life-size temple specially built for the exhibition. Presented as a journey through time from the depths of Mithraic caves to the Renaissance, the Age of Enlightenment and our era, the remarkable story of Mithras echoes contemporary social issues, such as the circulation of goods, ideas and people, gender relations or the cohabitation of cults.

 

The Mystery of Mithras offers visitors a unique, immersive and participatory experience for interpreting this peculiar cult, undoubtedly one of the most original that the ancient world has known!

 

 

Around the exhibition: publications, audio-visual content, events

 

The exhibition is accompanied by new publications intended for different audiences:

  •  A scholarly catalogue, available in French and English, will bring together the contributions of some 75 international experts and will serve as a new reference work for the field;
  • A supplementary issue of the popular archaeological magazine Archéologia, will offer an updated and illustrated overview of this subject;
  • An illustrated book, intended for ages 9-13, will tell for the first time the extraordinary mythological story of Mithras;
  • An educational guide for the exhibition, available in French, Dutch and English, will serve as a supplement to the visit and permit one to continue it at home, while linking to Mariemont’s collections;
  • A journal of exploration, available in French, Dutch and English, will enable children to dive in a playful manner into the heart of this mysterious cult.

 

A significant amount of audio-visual content will be accessible online:

  •  A trailer, filmed in Belgium (Diest), available in French, Dutch and English, will immerse visitors in the atmosphere of the exhibition;
  • An audio guide, available in French, Dutch and English, can be downloaded through the “izi.TRAVEL” app;
  • An English website, devoted to the European cooperation project, will provide news of the exhibition and a programme of the activities accompanying it.

 

Other events will extend the exhibition experience:

  • An international conference - open to the public and scheduled for 17 December 2021 at the Royal Museum of Mariemont - will highlight current scholarship on Mithras (with, notably, a 3-D reconstruction of a sanctuary in Rome);
  • Historical reconstructions, provided by the Pater Familias association (Bavay), will bring back to life certain Mithraic ceremonies (initiations and banquets) ;
  • Thematic guided tours and exclusive lectures are planned for the full duration of the exhibition.

Curators and partner exhibitions

Richard Veymiers & Nicolas Amoroso - Royal Museum of Mariemont

Laurent Bricault - Université de Toulouse – Jean Jaurès

 

The exhibition at the Royal Museum of Mariemont is produced in partnership with the Saint-Raymond Museum in Toulouse (France) and the Archaeological Museum in Frankfurt (Germany), which will present it, in complementary versions, from 13 May to 30 October 2022 and 19 November 2022 to 15 April 2023, respectively.

Saint-Raymond Museum, Toulouse : Laure Barthet – Director, Pascal Capus – Conservator and head of sculptural and numismatic collections & Margaux Bekas – Conservator of Cultural Heritage

Archaeological Museum, Frankfurt : Wolfgang David – Director & Carsten Wenzel – Conservator of Roman Provincial Collections

 

Support from the European Union 

This project of European cooperation among Belgium, France and Germany is supported by the Education, Audio-visual and Culture Executive Agency of the European Union through the Creative Europe programme. The “Mithras” project, steered by the Royal Museum of Mariemont, meets the challenges of European cultural policy: encouraging the circulation of cultural heritage and its promotion before as large a number of people as possible, while promoting creativity and innovation.

 

The support of Creative Europe enables the establishment of a large European consortium integrating archaeologists, historians, artists, collectors and professionals from the museum world. Between 2021 and 2023, a rich programme of scholarly and cultural activities, mobilising all of these participants and involving more than twenty countries, will endeavour to reveal multiple aspects of Mithras and his cult from Antiquity to the present day. These events can all be found on the site dedicated to this project, in english.

 

 

The Royal Museum of Mariemont welcomes you from 10am to 5pm. Our doors will be open every day, except on Mondays.

Closed on 1/1 and 25/12.

The Park is open from 8am to 7pm every day.

 

The restaurant "The Terrace of Mariemont" is open, upon reservation.

 

The Library is open upon reservation.

 

The "Atelier du Livre" organizes workshops. Discover its program on our website.

 

The Covid Safe Ticket is mandatory to enter at the Museum, the Library and the restaurant from the 1st November. Wearing a face mask is also mandatory inside.


Thank you for your understanding.