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Other images of Mithras are found in the Roman temples, for instance Mithras banqueting with Sol, and depictions of the birth of Mithras from a rock. Burned residues of animal entrails are commonly found on the main altars indicating regular sacrificial use.But the image of bull-slaying (tauroctony) is always in the central niche. However, Mithraea do not commonly appear to have been provided with facilities for ritual slaughter of sacrificial animals (a highly specialised function in Roman religion), and it may be presumed that a Mithraeum would have made arrangements for this service to be provided for them in co-operation with the professional victimarius It had no predominant sanctuary or cultic centre; and, although each Mithraeum had its own officers and functionaries, there was no central supervisory authority.Interpretation of the physical evidence remains problematic and contested. with the exception of the aforementioned oath and catechism, and the document known as the Mithras Liturgy, from 4th century Egypt, whose status as a Mithraist text has been questioned by scholars including Franz Cumont.The Romans regarded the mysteries as having Persian or Zoroastrian sources. The walls of Mithraea were commonly whitewashed, and where this survives it tends to carry extensive repositories of graffiti; and these, together with inscriptions on Mithraic monuments, form the main source for Mithraic texts.
Modern historians have different conceptions about whether these names refer to the same god or not. Hinnells has written of Mitra / Mithra / Mithras as a single deity worshipped in several different religions. For their feasts, Mithraic initiates reclined on stone benches arranged along the longer sides of the Mithraeum – typically there might be room for 15 to 30 diners, but very rarely many more than 40 men.Some of these reliefs were constructed so that they could be turned on an axis. Mithraeum is a modern coinage and mithraists referred to their sacred structures as speleum or antrum (cave), crypta (underground hallway or corridor), fanum (sacred or holy place), or even templum (a temple or a sacred space).On the back side was another, more elaborate feasting scene. In their basic form, mithraea were entirely different from the temples and shrines of other cults.Outside the cavern, top left, is Sol the sun, with his flaming crown, often driving a quadriga. The Mithraeum represented the cave to which Mithras carried and then killed the bull; and where stone vaulting could not be afforded, the effect would be imitated with lath and plaster.A ray of light often reaches down to touch Mithras. They are commonly located close to springs or streams; fresh water appears to have been required for some Mithraic rituals, and a basin is often incorporated into the structure.
(See section Interpretations of the bull-slaying scene below.) The practice of depicting the god slaying a bull seems to be specific to Roman Mithraism. In some Mithraea, such as that at Dura Europos, wall paintings depict prophets carrying scrolls, but no named Mithraic sages are known, nor does any reference give the title of any Mithraic scripture or teaching.