How do we get people to photograph stuff overseas?

Under the church of Santa Prisca in Rome is a crypt which was once a Mithraeum.  It was excavated in the 1960’s by Martin Vermaseren and G. Van Essen, and contains some striking frescos. 

But it is probably best known for a series of inscriptions which I think are scratched in plaster.  One of these, in particular, is a favourite of the “Mithras=Jesus” headbangers, because it contains the word “And you have saved us by the shedding of the eternal blood”.  At least… it might do.

Last week someone raised the question of whether the inscription in the Santa Prisca Mithraeum in Rome really does refer to nos servasti — “you have saved us” — or not.  Apparently there is some doubt in the scholarly literature.

The obvious thing to do is to get some photographs.  But how? 

I find that you can visit the Mithraeum, but only as part of a guided tour.  I do not think that would probably make photography possible.

But there must be people who can do this.  People based in Italy, firms of photographers, people with the contacts to get access, who could do this — for money.

Does anyone have any ideas?


6 thoughts on “How do we get people to photograph stuff overseas?

  1. Darn, my sister was in Rome two weeks, I could’ve asked her to. Maybe we can try contacting historians/academics based in Rome to see if they can help. Or we can try contacting the priest or the religious order that’s managing the church for help.

    Searching the internet, I found a photographer named Ariy who posted a few pics of the Mithraeum at Shutterstock. If someone can contact him/her, s/he might have taken pictures of the inscription.

  2. Here’s a picture:

    On the right, it says Copyright: Ariy. Clicking through Ariy’s gallery reveals at least a few more pictures of the Mithraeum. If the person who took the picture could be contacted, s/he might have more pics of the place. Or you can commission him/her to photograph the inscriptions.

    Or you can go to Rome and sneak a click or two even if it’s not allowed. That reminds me of the Sistine Chapel. You’re not supposed to take pictures of the beautiful ceiling but everyone does it anyway. 🙂

  3. There doesn’t seem to be any way to contact the author. But someone else has suggested asking the British School in Rome. That’s a good idea. Once I have Vermaseren’s publication, which is on order, I’ll look at doing that.

  4. There’s a discussion of Vermaseren’s text by H.Betz in Novum Testamentum,10(1968)62-80 (on Jstor if you have it…).
    I doubt if the British School will help (or the British Academy). As part of “Ancient Christian Rome” the “rights” to eveything thus related is probably vested in the Ponticial Institute of/for(?) Christian Archeology, via Napoleone III, Rome (beside Santa Maria Maggiore). The worst they can do is refuse, but if there’s not a scirocco they might be generous… walter.

  5. Thanks for the tip about Betz. Wish I did have JSTOR!

    Thanks also for the info about the Pontifical Institute. I’ll think about that.

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