A group of Italian archaeologists 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 ancient Plutonium, was believed in Greco-Roman mythology to be the portal to hell.
D’Andria has conducted extensive archaeological research at the World Heritage Site of Hierapolis.
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 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.
According to the archaeologist, there was a sort of touristic organization at the site. Small birds were given to pilgrims to test the deadly effects of the cave, while hallucinated priests sacrificed bulls to Pluto.
The ceremony included leading the animals into the cave, and dragging them out dead.
“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.
According to D’Andria, the site was a famous destination for rites of incubation. Pilgrims took the waters in the pool near the temple, slept not too far from the cave and received visions and prophecies, in a sort of oracle of Delphi effect. Indeed, the fumes coming from the depths of Hierapoli’s phreatic groundwater produced hallucinations.