Mithraic bronzes

The "Angleur bronzes", which were fortunately uncovered by bricklayers in a clay pocket, consist of the technical elements of a fountain (key, pipes, spillways with a lion's head and a panther's head), decorative sconces and ronde-bosse figures.

Five hollow cast-iron sconces each represent a different sign of the zodiac: the ram, the lion, the scales – a naked young man who holds a scale his outstretched arms – the scorpion and the fish. Three other sconces were assimilated, at the time of their discovery, to depictions of satyrs, representing deities of "psychopomp" winds whose function was to elevate the souls of the deceased in the astral plane. Originally, these bearded and moustached faces, who are shown in profile, all had a wing hemmed with incised plumage. 

Two statuettes of young women (Horae) – though there were doubtlessly four originally –dressed in a fluttering chiton represent the seasons, symbolising the inevitability of the passing time.

These figurations, which had an iron tenon for fixing them, were probably hung on wooden panels that embellished a sanctuary dedicated to the god Mithra, an Indo-Persian deity whose mystery cult was disseminated in Gaul by the Roman army or via trade. They present composition that can be compared with the Rhenish Mithraic bas-reliefs (Heddernheim, Osterburken), recounting, in the form of paintings, the genesis of Mithra, as well as the major scenes of his life. These historiated panels surrounded the main cult image of the mithraeum, which depicted the invincible god Mithra immolating a bull. This scene of sacrifice, which is surmounted by a circular arched frieze illustrating the twelve signs of the zodiac, symbolised the regenerative quality of nature. The sconce depicting Medusa, the Gorgon with the petrifying gaze, is an element that is foreign to Mithraic iconography. 

A ronde-bosse lion, which is of even more exceptional quality, completes the decoration.

These bronze objects, which are exceptional in their rarity, were probably buried in a hiding place following Frankish incursions in 275 and 276.

Numéro d'inventaire FLORA
GC.ARC.01e.1884.004809
Année d'exécution
Fin du 2e siècle ou début du 3e siècle après J.-C.
Lieu
Découverts à Angleur (Liège) en 1882
Dimensions
Divinité des vents I : H. 20 cm ; l. 11.5 cm ; Ep. 5 cm / Divinité des vents II : H. 22 cm ; l. 10.5 cm ; Ep. 5.5 cm / Méduse : D. 20.2 cm ; P. 1259.7 g