DIYARBAKIR—Archaeologists have discovered an ancient temple of the Mitra religion on Mount Zerzavan in the Kurdish area of Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey.
The temple is believed to be 1,700 years old and built during the Romans who ruled the area and maintained a military base.
Uncovering the site has been underway for more than three years in joint project of the Diyarbakir municipality and the Turkish ministry of tourism.
“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.”
Mithraism was a religion common in India and Iran and parts of the Middle East before Christianity. Diyarbakir and its Sur region are home to some of the oldest historical sites in Turkey.
The newly-discovered temple is said to be 35 meters wide and 2.5 meters tall. The site is located between Diyarbakir and Mardin.
On the site the archaeologists have uncovered sleeping quarters, kitchens, public baths and water wells in addition to the temple.
“Mithra was the god of the sun and god of war and peace.” Coskun said. “Also only men could join this religion. It was a men’s religion. Most of their temples were also built underground.”
Coskun says that uncovering the temple and site now sheds light on the mysterious religion and location to all those interested and future tourists.