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Regio I - Insula X - Tempio Collegiale and Mitreo di Fructosus (I,X,4)

The guild temple

A guild temple was built in the south-west part of the block, at the intersection of Via del Pomerio and Via del Tempio Rotondo. The building (opus latericium) has been assigned to the reign of Alexander Severus (222 - 235 AD). In the courtyard are a few later walls (opus vittatum).

The south part of the outer west wall is oblique, probably to make the passage of wagons or pack animals easier. The corner of the building was reinforced with travertine blocks and the drum of a column. The main entrance is in the west part, between two shops. It is accentuated by brick piers with travertine bases. Secondary entrances are found in the south-east (a staircase) and north-east.

From the vestibule one reaches a courtyard with porticus. Behind the courtyard is the substructure of the podium of the temple, which was never finished however. The wide staircase leading to the podium is missing, and the cella was not built (possibly funds of the guild had been confiscated by Alexander Severus' successor Maximinus). The podium is flanked by small rooms and staircases. Below the north-eastern staircase is a latrine. A large room to the north of this staircase also belongs to the complex.

In the substructure of the podium a mithraeum was installed (see below). An inscription from the mithraeum mentions a corpus s[---]. It is almost certain that this is the guild of the stuppatores: rooms to the north were used for the production of stuppa, i.e. tow, oakum (Officina Stuppatoria I,X,3). The members of the guild would meet and have banquets in the complex. The northern wing of the porticus may have served as dining room. The large room in the north part may have been a dining room or kitchen. Water could be obtained from a well in the northernmost shop. The corpus stuppatorum in Portus worshipped Minerva Augusta as conservatrix et antistites ("defender and overseer") of the guild.

Plan of the temple and mithraeum

Plan of the temple and mithraeum. After SO I.
The mithraeum of Fructosus

The mithraeum in the substructure of the podium was reached through a door in the north-east part of the porticus, then through a corridor in front of the podium, and finally by descending a few steps. Preparations had been made for a low cross vault to support the podium, but it was never finished. Instead a higher cross vault was built to cover the mithraeum, and the springing of the planned low vault was filled with opus vittatum and stucco. The floor of the room was lowered.

In the back wall a semicircular wall-niche was hacked out, 40 centimeters deep. On either side of the niche was a small marble column. On the bottom rested a marble slab with a pivot hole. The rough concrete of the back was left unfinished, intentionally, so that it recalled the cave in which Mithras was born. The niche was painted blue and will have contained a statue of Mithras.

In the west wall, next to the entrance, is a recess for a relief or an inscription. In the north wall is a slit window. Podiums were set against the long sides of the room. They accomodated c. 18 men. The walls of the room were all painted white. Traces of red and blue were seen by the excavators. Two marble supports may have belonged to a table in front of the niche. Furthermore two bases were found, one of marble, the other of travertine. Most likely they supported statues of Cautes and Cautopates, holding a raised and a lowered torch (part of the statue of Cautes has been preserved).

Fragments were found of a marble cornice, which rested on small columns or a similar support. The original location remains uncertain. It carries the inscription (one line):

[---]rius Fructosus patron(us) corp(oris) s[tuppatorum---te]mpl(um) et spel(aeum) M(i)t(hrae) a solo sua pec(unia) feci(t)

"?rius Fructosus, patron of the guild of the tow-makers, built the temple and cave of Mithras, alone and on his own expense"

A list of members of the corpus st[---], from the third century AD, mentions a Fructosus senior, and a Fructosus as patron. The shrine was destroyed thoroughly and set on fire by Christians.

Plan of the temple and mithraeum

Plan of the temple and mithraeum.
North is to the left. From Becatti 1954, fig. 4.


View through the vestibule towards the courtyard. From the west.
Photograph: Eric Taylor.

The south-east part of the courtyard, seen from the north-west.
Photograph: Eric Taylor.

The mithraeum seen from the west.
Note the niche in the back wall, the supports for a marble table,
and the bases of statues for Cautes and Cautopates.
Photograph: Gerard Huissen.

The mithraeum seen from the north-west. Note the springing of the high cross vault,
and the filling of the low cross vault to the right of it. Photograph: Gerard Huissen.

The rooms to the north of the podium, seen from the north.
To the left is a staircase, in the centre a slit window.
Photograph: Gerard Huissen.

[jthb - 14-Sep-1999]