The Herald Sun:
Archaeologists have opened the ancient ‘Gates to Hell’ in Turkey – and found it’s still a killer.
A group of Italian archaeologists have announced they have found the legendary “Pluto’s Gate”, a portal filled with foul-smelling noxious fumes which inflicted a quick death on any person or beast that was driven into its embrace.
The temple complex in Hierapolis, now the volcanic-spring restort town of Pamukkale, featured in many ancient legends and historical texts.
“This space is full of a vapour so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground. Any animal that passes inside meets instant death,” the Greek historian Strabo wrote in 24AD.”I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last and fell.”
The archaeologists uncovered the ruins of a circular temple near a cave entrance, surrounded by Ionic columns. One of them held a dedication to the gods of the underworld – Pluto and Kore.
The excavated site of the Plutonium at the ancient city of Hierapolis, Turkey. Picture: Francesco D’Andria.
Discovery News reports the excavations have also revealed evidence of a nearby thermal pool and courtyard which was a gathering-place for priests and visitors seeking prophetic visions or to speak with dead loved ones.
A staired terrace overlooking the temple and pool would have held onlookers and initiates as eunuchs led bulls into the cave – and dragged them out, dead.
Francesco D’Andria of the University of Salento said the “visions” were probably hallucinations caused by breathing diluted fumes wafting up from the Gate to Hell.
And the portal is still a killer, he said.
“We could see the cave’s lethal properties during the excavation,” D’Andria told Discovery News.
A picture showing dead birds at the entrance to “Hell’s Gate”, an ancient volcanic cave. Picture: Francesco D’Andria.
“Several birds died as they tried to get close to the warm opening, instantly killed by the carbon dioxide fumes.”
The site had been damaged by Christians in the 6th Century and the destruction was completed by later earthquakes.
“We found the Plutonium (Pluto’s Gate) by reconstructing the route of a thermal spring,” D’Andria said.
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