Though scholars debated its origins, it seems the Mithraic cult came to Rome in the 1st century BCE from Persia, brought back by Roman soldiers who had been fighting in the east. Sitting at a depth of nearly three stories underground today, the Mithraeum of the Circus Maximus is one of the many places in Rome that reveal the complex urban stratification of the city. The Mithraeum of the Circus Maximus was discovered in the 1930s during the building of the set storage facility for the Teatro Nazionale dell’Opera. Probably built in the second century AD, the large building was modified many times, and in the third century AD, its ground floor became a mitreo. The rooms of the original structure were converted into the sacrificial and ritual areas where followers of the god Mithras would venerate their god, make sacrifices, and participate in a ritual meal of bread and wine.
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