Typical vessels with snake decorations in caves usually indicate a connection with the Mithraic mysteries. The majority of the numerous pottery and animal bones accumulated as a result of reoccurring cult feasts in the cave and thus reflect the eating habits and the selection of animals for the practice of the cult.
The study of the archaeological finds from the Mithraic cave on Gradišče by St. Egyden is being carried out in collaboration with P. Gleirscher (Department of Prehistory and Early History, Landesmuseum Kärnten). The exceptional finds originated from a cave-like ›shelter‹ that was created by an Iron Age fallen bolder.
The finds were recovered from a 70 cm thick ashy layer by sieves. In addition to a large quantity of animal bones, many sherds of eating and drinking vessels, fragments of oil lamps and coins were discovered. Actual ›cult utensils‹ are a block of marble that might be a type of altar and several cult vessels decorated with snake figures.
The remains of animals studied to date confirm that the animals typical for cult feasts are represented. There are numerous poultry bones among the material. Many are from chickens but wild birds have also been accounted for. Remains of very young sheep, goats, and pigs in the find spectrum are also typical indicators for their consumption in connection with the Mithraic mysteries. Alongside these finds there are also faunal elements that became part of the deposits through natural events and are not connected with the cult.