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Archeologists believe they've found the fabled 'Gates of Hell'

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 3rd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Archaeologists say they have discovered the "Gates of Hell," the mythical portal to the underworld of Greek and Roman legend. Uncovered in the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis, now known as Pamukkale in southwestern Turkey, appears to match historical descriptions of what was known as "Ploutonion" in Greek, and "Plutonium" in Latin.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "This space is full of a vapor so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground," Greek geographer Strabo in about 24 A.D. said. "Any animal that passes inside meets instant death. I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last and fell."

The small temple with traditional Greco-Roman pillars in its heyday was said to have stood next to a wall with steps leading down to a cave doorway filled with foul and noxious gasses.

Modern-day archaeologists now say they have discovered what they believe to be the ruins of the site.

A team led by Italian Archaeologist Francesco D'Andria, professor of classic archaeology at the University of Salento, announced the discovery at a conference on Italian archaeology in Istanbul.

D'Andria said he and his team had managed to pinpoint the location by reconstructing the route of thermal springs. 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.

"We could see the cave's lethal properties during the excavation," D'Andria said. "Several birds died as they tried to get close to the warm opening, instantly killed by the carbon dioxide fumes."

D'Andria famously claimed to have found the tomb of Saint Philip, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ, in Hierapolis, in 2011.

The area in which the discovery was made, Pamukkale, is well known for the stunning white travertine terraces which are the result of the hot springs.

D'Andria also uncovered the remains of a pool and the steps placed above the cave which matches the descriptions of the site in ancient sources.

Speaking to Discovery TV. D'Andria gave a description of what life might have been like around the cave in ancient times. "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.

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.

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