Ancient Roman temple unearthed in Turkey

Indo Asian News Service

Ankara, May 4 (IANS/AKI) Archaeologists have discovered an ancient Roman temple devoted to the ancient deity Mithras in Turkey's southeastern province Diyarbakir, Kurdish regional broadcaster Rudaw said on Thursday.

The archaological team also uncovered an army base on Mount Zerzavan as well as the temple, believed to be 1,700 years old and built while the area was under Roman rule, Rudaw said.

"This was a strategic lookout post for the Roman army in the east," archaeologist Aytas Coskun told Rudaw. "Civilians and soldiers had lived here. It was in fact a city in itself."

The archaeologists have uncovered sleeping quarters, kitchens, public baths and water wells at the site in addition to the temple.

The newly unearthed temple is said to be 35 metres wide and 2.5 meters high. The site is located between Diyarbakir and Mardin.

Excavations began over three years ago at the site located between Diyarbakir and the neighbouring province of Mardin, which borders northern Iraq.

Mithraism was a religion common in India and Iran and parts of the Middle East before Christianity.

The mysterious cult was all-male, and most of the temples were built underground and date from the 1st to the 4th century AD.

The iconic scenes of the deity Mithras show him being born from a rock, slaughtering a bull, and sharing a banquet with the Sun god Sol.