If you really think “that Modern scholarship thinks Plutarch is wrong” about the date of the introduction of Mithraic rites into the greater Roman
Empire via the “Cilician” Pirates c. BC 67 you are grossly misreprenting the facts and your half-truths are misleading the people reading these
See the article written by Marquita Volken and edited by Richard L Gordon (Lausanne, November, 2003)
Volken (M.), "The development of the cult of Mithras in the western Roman Empire: a socio-archaeological perspective", Volume IV, 2004 (English,
Word 2000, 125.5 KB)
In this revealing article Volken goes to some length to demonstrate the exponential growth of the Mithraic cult within the larger Roman Empire and is
able via mathematical algorithms to retroject the beginnings numerically back roughly to the time Plutarch says it occurred, viz. c. BC 67.
“Plutarch’s description of the pirates’ rites has in the past been often considered insufficient proof of the introduction of the cult into the
Roman world, since he says merely that the Cilician cult continues ‘to this day’ (i.e. ca AD 120).
But Plutarch’s remark, which can hardly have been taken from his probable source, Posidonius, does reveal that an Anatolian cult of Mithras was
known to him. In the absence of any other date for a founding group, Plutarch provides a convenient base line for our projection.
The years around AD 70 do, as Beck has pointed out, seem to be significant in the cult’s development:
But in my view it is incredible that a cult that only began in the Flavian period could in such a short time have accumulated the numbers of adherents
and the cultural adaptations implied by the archaeological evidence - especially a secret cult that used violent initiations, and that was not linked
to the rich social elite.
The scenario looks more plausible however if we shift the founding group back in time, to the previous favourite candidate, the Cilician pirates of
Plutarch, Vit. Pomp.24”
If we assume a maximum group of 1,000 Mithras cult members in the Roman world in 60 BC, and a growth rate of 23% per decade, we obtain the following
figures at a growth rate of approx 23% per decade for the Mithraic Mysteries cult members which fits fairly closely the numbers we see in the late
first century AD...”
"...Archaeologically, the cult of Mithras seems to appear ‘suddenly’ in the last quarter of the first century (AD) in several locations
geographically distant from one another.
What does this imply about its date of foundation?
Comparison with early Christianity is instructive.
We know from the written documents that have survived in the New Testament and elsewhere that organised Christian churches, had existed since the
missionary journeys of Paul, now dated between AD 50/1 and his execution in AD 64.
Yet recognisably Christian artefacts are virtually absent from the archaeological record before about 180 AD.
If we did not possess the written texts, a circumstance entirely due to its historical success, we would no doubt also assume that Christianity came
into existence during the mid-second century AD by studying the archaeological artifacts alone.."
These statements echo my own position fairly succinctly, and corresponds fairly closely to what is now the modern "scholarly consensus" on this
Just in case you think I'm making all of this up...