Zoomorphic Interpretations In Ancient Constanta

Mithras, 1st century AD, Tomis The God Mithras stabbing the bull, 1st century AD, Gura Dobrogei (animal sacrifices in ancient meteorology)The god Mithras, the divinity of weather prediction A beautiful piece of white marble, discovered at Cumpana, close to Constanta, which is now part of the collection of the Museum of Archaeology, shows a solar clock dating back to 2nd century BC. This archaeological artefact is a classical solar clock, marked with meridians and parallels through deep ridges, which shows, on behalf of the inhabitants, a deep knowledge of the measurement of time as well as of the fact that all weather events such as rain, snow and fog might affect the running of the clock. The whole solar clock, sculpted from one piece of marble is placed on the forehead, between the horns of a bull, from where only the stick which would indicate the hours is missing. The symbolism of the god Mithras, represented through a mythical bull, was a pagan cult coming from Hinduism and Zoroastrianism. In Roman Dobruja, he was the only Persian popular god brought from outside the Empire, particularly due to the mysterious character of his cult. The essence of the Mithraic dogma is in the fight between Good and Evil in the universe, his power encompassing the three worlds: the underworld, the terrestrial and the celestial. In the real world of Roman antiquity, the Dobrujan one in particular, the fight between the good sunny weather of the warm seasons, the harsh cold weather of the long rainy autumns, and the heavy winters with terrible frosts, unbearable snow or icy winds from Dobruja or Constanta, has found in the Mithraic dogma the answers to the natural question of the inhabitants as to which god provoked such disasters. For these reasons, the inhabitants of the ancient settlement of Cumpana, or even those of a villa rustica nearby, felt the need of representing, in the shape of a piece of marble on the head of the mythical bull, the solar clock for measuring time, the weather, and seasons. The inhabitants of old Tomis (Constanta) knew, and had spiritually established a link between the weather and the solar divinity, Sol, and that of the moon, goddess Selena. In order to appeal to these two divinities so that they would ensure good weather for various activities such as agriculture, navigation, long journeys under favourable circumstances, etc., the inhabitants understood they had to bring sacrifices to their altars. In Tomis, the divinity who responded to weather-related questions is shown in two hypostases in the scene of the sacrifice of Mithras Taurochton: first, in a corner of the sculpture framed by a rectangle, and secondly, in a grotto carved in the mountain, represented through a vault. In both scenes, the animal that is being sacrificed is the mythical bull. In Dobruja, other sculptures with the same subject have been discovered – the sacrifice of the mythical bull, which shows how closely related the life of the inhabitants of that area was to the weather. Translated by Maria Bebis 

by Petre Covacef