Anyone who searches for “Mithras” in Google images is confronted with a mass of photographs by all sorts of people from all sorts of sites across the web. There’s a lot of good images there, clear and useful … but the site owners rarely give the CIMRM reference number, and usually have no real information on what you’re looking at.
I’ve started to address this on my new Mithras site. I’ve created a gallery of selected monuments, and an upload wizard that allows me to create new entries fairly easily. Each monument has a page with an image or two, the CIMRM text, and whatever else is to hand.
The idea, simply, is that if you find a reference in the scholarly literature to “CIMRM 593”, you don’t just sigh and rub your eyes. Instead you can go to the gallery, find out what it looks like, find links to a couple of images, and then, if need me, hunt down some more photos yourself.
CIMRM 593 is a good example. That’s it, on the right. It’s an item which must be photographed dozens of times every day, because it lives in the British Museum in London, on public display.
What makes it important is that it seems to be one of the very earliest tauroctonies – monuments of Mithras killing the bull. The two chaps at the back are Cautes and Cautopates, the torch bears, in an unusual position. Unfortunately the statue was restored at some remote date. Various bits are not original: the head should be facing towards us, and there are other bits that are not right. But now … you can get details of what is not authentic from my page above.
And suddenly, you don’t have to be a specialist in order to know anything about the monument. We can all look, even if we don’t have the training of a professional, once we know what those images on Google Images are. We can all see what the argument is about, at least.
Which is what I want to make possible.