The ruins of an ancient mythological cave in Turkey, believed to be the “gate to hell” emitting fatal carbon fumes, has emerged from the northwestern party of the counttry, Italian archaeologists have announced.
Known as Pluto’s Gate — Ploutonion in Greek, Plutonium in Latin – the cave was celebrated as the portal to the underworld in Greco-Roman mythology and tradition.
Historians located the site in the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis, now called Pamukkale, describing the opening as filled with lethal mephitic vapours, the Discovery News reported.
“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,” Greek geographer Strabo, who lived between 64/63 BC -about 24 A.D. wrote. “I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last and fell,” he added.
Announced in March at a conference on Italian archaeology in Istanbul, Turkey, the finding was made by a team led by Francesco D’Andria, professor of classic archaeology at the University of Salento. He conducted extensive archaeological research at the World Heritage Site of Hierapolis. Two years ago D’Andria also claimed to discover there the tomb of Saint Philip, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ.
“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,” D’Andria said. Only the eunuchs of Cybele, an ancient fertility goddess, were able to enter the hell gate without any apparent damage, the report said.
Featuring a vast array of abandoned broken ruins, possibly the result of earthquakes, the site revealed more ruins once it was excavated. The archaeologists found as well Ionic semi columns and, on top of them, an inscription with a dedication to the deities of the underworld — Pluto and Kore.