To celebrate the Council for British Archaeology, Festival of Archaeology the Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology are hosting a series of lunchtime lectures. This lecture series offers a chance for the public to learn more about the variety of interesting research projects currently taking place in the Department. With talks from postgraduate students, early career researchers, lecturers and Museum staff the lectures are also a great way for current and prospective students to discover the potential career pathways open to those studying in these fields.
For this lecture, PhD student, Kevin Stoba will be discussing his research into the worship of the Roman deity Mithras. This topic is one of the most widely researched yet enigmatic religious phenomena of the ancient world. Who was Mithras? Why were the early Church Fathers so afraid of comparisons with Christianity? Why was Mithras worshipped only by men? Why did his cults meet in caves or underground? How should we interpret the 'tauroctony', the central cult image of Mithras-worship, featuring Mithras stabbing a bull in the neck, surrounded by a snake, a dog, a raven, a scorpion, and various other characters?
Kevin's research is tackling some of these lines of inquiry using an original application of network analysis. His talk will challenge notions of Mithras-worship as a uniform, monolithic phenomenon. Instead, you will see how Mithraic cults were hotbeds of diversity, innovation and multiple influences. Alongside a history of Mithras-worship in the Roman world, the lecture will show some of his latest findings on how, where and why these cults developed. You will explore what prompted individuals to participate in them, how and why communities of worshippers interacted with other communities to create networks (while others remained more isolated), and how all of these interactions are hidden within the cult's famous iconography.