Is this the Gate of Hell?
Archaeologists say temple doorway belching noxious gas matches ancient accounts of ‘portal to the underworld’
- Site in ancient city of Hierapolis, now Pamukkale in southwestern Turkey
- Matches historical descriptions of what was thought be entrance to hell
- Birds flying past are killed by noxious gasses emanating from the doorway
- Inscriptions on temple columns are dedications to gods of the underworld
It sounds like the plot for a new Indiana Jones film.
Archaeologists say they have discovered the ‘Gates of Hell’, the mythical portal to the underworld in Greek and Roman legend.
The site, in the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis, now Pamukkale in southwestern Turkey, is said to closely match historical descriptions of what was known as Ploutonion in Greek and Pluutonium in Latin.
In its heyday, a small temple with traditional Greco-Roman pillars was said to have stood next to wall with steps leading down to a cave doorway filled with foul and noxious gasses.
Describing the site, the Greek geographer Strabo (64/63 BC — about 24 A.D.) said: ‘This space is full of a vapor so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground.
'Any animal that passes inside meets instant death. I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last and fell.'
The site, in the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis, now Pamukkale in southwestern Turkey, is said to closely match historical descriptions
Just like in the historic texts, birds that flew to close to the opening were killed by the carbon dioxide fumes
But now a team led by Italian Archaeologist Francesco D’Andria, professor of classic archaeology at the University of Salento, has discovered what they believe to be the ruins of the site.
Announcing the discovery at a conference on Italian archaeology in Istanbul, Mr D’Andria said he and his team had managed to pinpoint the location by reconstructing the route of a thermal springs.
Archaeologists now believe that a large statue found at the site, previously believed to depict Apollo, is actually of Hades, Greek god of the underworld
Among the ruins the archaeologists found a cave with Ionic semi columns upon which were inscriptions with dedications to the gods of the underworld — Pluto and Kore.
Mr D’Andria told Discovery News: ’We could see the cave’s lethal properties during the excavation.
'Several birds died as they tried to get close to the warm opening, instantly killed by the carbon dioxide fumes.'
The archealogist, who famously claimed to have found the tomb of Saint Philip, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ, in Hierapolis, in 2011.
The ancient city was founded around 190BC by Eumenes II, King of Pergamum. It was taken over by the Romans in 133 B.C..
Under Roman rule the city flourished. There were temples, a theater and people flocked to bathe in the hot springs which were believed to have healing properties.
Today Pamukkale is well known for the stunning white travertine terraces which are the result of the hot springs.
Mr D’Andria has conducted extensive archaeological research at Hierapolis and two years ago he claimed to discover there the tomb of Saint Philip, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ.
D’Andria also found the remains of a pool and the steps placed above the cave which match the descriptions of the site in ancient sources.
Among the ruins the archaeologists discovered Ionic semi-columns with inscription to gods of the underworld Pluto and Kore
Speaking to Discovery TV channel he gave a fascinating description of what life might have like around the cave in ancient time.
He said: ‘People could watch the sacred rites from these steps, but they could not get to the area near the opening. Only the priests could stand in front of the portal.
According to the archaeologist, pilgrims arriving at the site were given small birds to test the deadly effects of the cave, while priests sacrificed bulls to Pluto hallucinating madly from the toxic fumes.
The site remained fully functional until the 4th century A.D. and became an important pilgrimage destination for the last pagan intellectuals.
Historians believe the site was sacked by Christians in the 6th century A.D., with several earthquakes adding to the damage.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2302755/Gate-Hell-Turkey-Hierapolis-temple-doorway-matches-mythical-portal-underworld.html#ixzz2PLNMWlio