Publication details

Dissemination of Mithraic Communities in the Roman Empire: Center and Periphery Reconsidered



Year of publication 2014
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description The Roman cult of Mithras has been studied for over a century but many of its aspects still remain enigmatic. We still know very little about the origins of the Roman Cult of Mithras and the way how it spread so effectively across the Roman Empire. Also the unusual uniformity of the cult’s architecture and iconography (compared to other contemporary religious cults) was not yet persuasively explained. This paper tries to explore possible merits of two theoretical approaches which might contribute decisively to the clarification of these long-term problems persisting in the modern Mithraic studies. The first of these approaches is the network theory which has been recently applied with impressive results to many aspects of the ancient world. The paper will argue that especially the model of a small world network and hypotheses highlighting the importance of the so called “weak links” for the dissemination of cultural innovations can have a huge impact on our understanding of social dynamics of the Roman Cult of Mithras. The second theoretical approach involves computational modeling, especially multi-level agent based modeling including cognitive, social and ecological variables. It will be argued that this type of computational modeling can help to identify important connections between these variables which would otherwise remain obscure for the traditional historically oriented research.
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