Dhe landowners just didn’t want to. Because the master mason Werkmann, who dug up his field in 1826 and in doing so brought masses of stone relics from the Roman period to light, obstinately denied the archaeologist Friedrich Gustav Habel access, he was unable to buy the finds or properly document their salvage. Another landlord did things even worse a few months when he also found Roman traces 150 meters to the west and Habel only had the pit inspected after he had removed everything, the stones as well as the other finds.
Contemporary and later researchers would have given a great deal if the two owners in the area of Heddernheim, which was incorporated into Frankfurt in 1910, had been more approachable at the time. Because what came to light in 1826 in the area of the old Roman town of Nida were, among other things, the remains of two sanctuaries dedicated to the mysterious god Mithras – from one of them a characteristic stone image of rare beauty was recovered. Much later, in 1887 and 1928, two more migraines were discovered on the site, one of which again contained a magnificent relief. It was destroyed in World War II together with the Dominican monastery in Frankfurt, from whose ruins it was excavated a second time and reconstructed in the 1980s. Since then it has been the pride of the Archaeological Museum.
Much was also lost through Ernst May’s new building
The story of the four Mithraea of Nida is one of loss: stubborn landowners play a role in it, private excavators who sell their finds faster than scientists can even raise their hands, wartime destruction – and finally the overbuilding of the site since Ernst May, the of the Weimar Republic continues to the present.
At the same time, they are a symbol of a time when the Romans gained a foothold north of the Main, built the Limes and a military camp that was to be transformed into a city with everything that goes with it: fort, thermal baths, a theater, cemeteries in front of the gates , a port on the Nidda and the Mithraea. When the first two were discovered and quickly published as well as possible, they proved as two very rare examples that the cult of this god was also practiced north of the Alps – meanwhile, this is a well-documented fact through numerous other finds. The third Mithraeum, with its extremely impressive rotating relief, then fueled research into the cult, which was of course influenced by rampant oriental intoxication around 1900, especially in popular culture.
The image of a secret cult was drawn up, which penetrated into the Roman heartland from the east, probably from Persia, and primarily attracted the military there. It was also popular to draw parallels to Christianity, which, like the Mithraic cult, held up the winter solstice as a moment of salvation, and to ask what the world would have been like if not the peaceful Christ had prevailed, but Mithras, the god who gave birth to him sacred representations usually kneels on the back of a bull, which he tears up the nostrils with one hand and with the other pierces a dagger or a sword in the neck.
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