Cult Relief of Mithras Slaying the Bull (Tauroctony) Artist: Unknown

ca. A.D. 170–71

Ancient Art

On view, 1st floor, Dura-Europos

The Mithraeum at Dura-Europos is unique in featuring two cult reliefs (see 1935.97) of Mithras slaying the bull (the tauroctony) in the center of the niche. In both, the god appears in his customary pose—plunging a dagger into the bull’s throat—accompanied by the usual symbolic attendants: a raven, dog, snake, sun, and moon. In this later, larger relief, the dedicant and fellow initiates are depicted to one side. Although dedicants and family members appear in cult images elsewhere at Dura-Europos and at Palmyra, such iconography is extremely rare in Mithraic images.




76 × 106 cm, 136.08 kg (29 15/16 × 41 3/4 in., 300 lb.)

Credit Line

Yale-French Excavations at Dura-Europos

Accession Number



Roman (2nd century A.D.)


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Excavated by the Yale-French Excavations at Dura-Europos (block J7, Mithraeum), present-day Syria, 1928–37; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
  • Lisa R. Brody and Gail Hoffman, eds., Roman in the Provinces: Art on the Periphery of Empire (Chestnut Hill, Mass.: McMullen Museum of Art, 2014), 126, fig. 8.3
  • Lisa R. Brody and Gail Hoffman, eds., Dura-Europos: Crossroads of Antiquity (Boston: McMullen Museum of Art, 2011), 212, fig. 12.3
  • Lucinda Dirven, The Palmyrenes of Dura-Europos: A Study of Religious Interaction in Roman Syria (Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1999), 266–67, 269–72, pl. 9
  • Hans Erik Mathiesen, Sculpture in the Parthian Empire : a study in chronology, 2 volumes (Aarhus Denmark: Aarhus Universitetsforlag, 1992), 196, 198, no. 173, vol. 1, appendix II, pp.78–80, fig. 53
  • Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 270, ill
  • Susan B. Downey, The Excavations at Dura-Europos, Final Report III (Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, 1977), 25–29, 217–225, no. 8, pl. 4, fig. 8
  • Ann Perkins, The Art of Dura-Europos, 1st ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973), 86–90, pl. 35, ill
Object copyright
Additional information


in Greek: "Zenobius, also called Eiaeibas, son of Iariboles, the strategos of the archers, made this for the god Mithras in the year 482 of the Seleucid era"

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