Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




TIME AND SPACE
The Elephant's Tomb in Carmona may have been a temple to the god Mithras
by Staff Writers
Madrid, Spain (SPX) May 14, 2013


This is the interior of the Tomb of the Elephant. Credit: University Pablo Olavide.

The so-called Elephant's Tomb in the Roman necropolis of Carmona (Seville, Spain) was not always used for burials. The original structure of the building and a window through which the sun shines directly in the equinoxes suggest that it was a temple of Mithraism, an unofficial religion in the Roman Empire. The position of Taurus and Scorpio during the equinoxes gives force to the theory.

The Carmona necropolis (Spain) is a collection of funeral structures from between the 1st century B.C. and the 2nd century A.D. One of these is known as the Elephant's Tomb because a statue in the shape of an elephant was found in the interior of the structure.

The origin and function of the construction have been the subject of much debate. Archaeologists from the University of Pablo de Olavide (Seville, Spain) have conducted a detailed analysis of the structure and now suggest that it may originally not have been used for burials but for worshipping the God Mithras. Mithraism was an unofficial religion that was widespread throughout the Roman Empire in the early centuries of our era.

Researchers have identified four stages in which the building was renovated, giving it different uses.

"In some stages, it was used for burial purposes, but its shape and an archaeoastronomical analysis suggest that it was originally designed and built to contain a Mithraeum [temple to Mithras]," as explained to SINC by Inmaculada Carrasco, one of the authors of the study.

Carrasco and her colleague Alejandro Jimenez focus their studies on a window in the main chamber built during the first stage. Earlier studies had already suggested that the purpose of the window was not to provide light, but that rather it may have served a symbolic and spiritual purpose.

The Sun, the Moon and the stars
"From our analysis of the window, we have deduced that it was positioned so that the rays of the sun reached the centre of the chamber during the equinoxes, in the spring and autumn, three hours after sunrise" explains Carrasco.

The authors believe that at that moment a statue of the tauroctony, the statue of Mithras slaying the bull (which has been lost), would have been illuminated.

In addition, during the winter and summer solstice, the sun would light up the north and south walls respectively.

Moreover, the position of the heavenly bodies at that time in the 2nd century reinforces the theory that the building was constructed for Mithraic worship, a religion that gave considerable importance to the constellations.

As the sun shines through the window during the spring equinox, Taurus rises to the East and Scorpio hides to the West. The opposite occurred during the autumn equinox.

Taurus and Scorpio were of special significance to the Mithraics. The main image of the cult is that of the God Mithras slaying a bull, and in the majority of these images there is also a scorpion stinging the animal's testicles.

Other constellations such as Aquarius, Orion or Leo, which were also of significance in this religion, appear in the path of the sun in the equinoxes and solstices at that time.

Moreover, according to the authors, the Moon, although having a secondary role, may have lit up the face of Mithras with a full moon on nights near to the equinoxes.

Four stages of renovation
Apart from the window, the architecture of the original building has similarities to other Mithraic constructions.

Carrasco explained that it is "an underground structure, with a room divided into three chambers, with a shrine or altar illuminated by the window at the head. The presence of a fountain is also highly significant as these are commonly found in the Mithraeums".

According to the authors, after its period as a Mithraic temple, the building was renovated three times, giving it new functions more in line with the functions of a necropolis. A burial chamber was built and at a later date, the roof was removed, leaving open courtyards. Lastly, it was filled with rubble and used as an area for burials.

However, there are some objections to the theory that it was a Mithraic temple as it is in a necropolis, an uncommon site for buildings used for this cult which were more often found in domestic, urban or rural environments.

"A similar case is that of Sutri (Italy) where the Mithraeum is on the outskirts of the town. The structure in Carmona is in a multi-purpose space, next to the Via Augusta which connected Cadiz to Rome, close to the amphitheatre and the circus, and consequently its position should not be considered an objection," says Jimenez.

A. Jimenez, I. Carrasco. "The tomb of the Elephant at the Roman Necropolis of carmona. A necessary review through the Building Archaeology and Archaeostromy" Archivo espanol de arqueologia. DOI: 10.3989/aespa.085.012.007

.


Related Links
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
Understanding Time and Space






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





TIME AND SPACE
New NIST time code to boost reception for radio-controlled clocks
Washington DC (SPX) Mar 12, 2013
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is changing the way it broadcasts time signals that synchronize radio-controlled "atomic" clocks and watches to official U.S. time in ways that will enable new radio-controlled timepieces to be significantly more robust and reliable. This new time broadcast protocol will not only improve the performance of new radio-controlled clock ... read more


TIME AND SPACE
Where on Earth did the moon's water come from

Water on moon, Earth have a common source

Northrop Grumman Completes Lunar Lander Study for Golden Spike Company

Scientists Use Laser to Find Soviet Moon Rover

TIME AND SPACE
NASA Curiosity Rover Team Selects Second Drilling Target on Mars

Opportunity Making Smallest Turn Yet, As Dust Storm Affects Rover

More than 78,000 people apply for one-way trip to Mars

Austria Aims For Mars Via Morocco

TIME AND SPACE
Researchers use graphene quantum dots to detect humidity and pressure

Outside View: Patents laws and suffering innovators

Glow-in-the-Dark Plants on the ISS

Russia Confirms Plans to Send Sarah Brightman to Space

TIME AND SPACE
China launches communications satellite

On Course for Shenzhou 10

Yuanwang III, VI depart for space-tracking missions

Shenzhou's Shadow Crew

TIME AND SPACE
Spaceman says goodbye to ISS with David Bowie classic

Canadian ISS astronaut returns to Earth a star

NASA astronauts on spacewalk to fix ammonia leak

The fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle is ready to meet up with its Ariane 5

TIME AND SPACE
NASA Awards Contract to Modify Mobile Launcher

Angara Rocket Launch Delayed to 2014

ESA's Vega launcher scores new success with Proba-V

European Vega rocket launch delayed due to weather

TIME AND SPACE
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope Finds Dead Stars Polluted with Planet Debris

The Great Exoplanet Debate

NASA's Spitzer Puts Planets in a Petri Dish

Two New Exoplanets Detected with Kepler, SOPHIE and HARPS-N

TIME AND SPACE
Heady mathematics

Cornstarch proves to be worth its weight in gold

One order of steel; hold the greenhouse gases

Cloud computing is silver lining for Russian firms




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement