A team of Italian archaeologists has discovered the “Gate To Hell”, in southwestern Turkey. The “Gate To Hell” is a cave full of toxic gases that ancient people believed to represent the entry into the underground kingdom of Pluto, the god of death.
Also called the “Gate of Pluto” (Plutonium in Latin), the cave is located near the ancient city of Hierapolis (today Pamukkale, Turkey).
The “Gate To Hell” was a mystery for ancient people and wise men because they couldn’t understand why the priests were not affected by the cave. However, the scientists discovered why.
The deadly gave was a touristic attraction
“Any animal that enters it dies,” wrote the ancient Greek geographer Strabo.
The archeologists also discovered the remains of a temple, a lake, and a grandstand above the cave for people to witness sacrifice rituals.
However, people were forbidden to approach the cave and only the priests were able to enter the arena.
The cave is emitting large amounts of volcanic carbon dioxide and sulfur due to the seismic activity in the underground.
Archaeologists believe the gate was a tourist destination. Birds and animals were sold to people to sacrifice them in the deadly cave’s atmosphere, while the priests were sacrificing bulls to honor the god Pluto.
Only the priests were invulnerable
It seems that only the eunuch priests of the goddess Cybele, an ancient divinity of fertility, were invulnerable.
“They kept their breath as long as they could,” writes Strabo, adding that their invulnerability was either given by castration or divine protection.
However, recent studies reveal the truth.
The carbon dioxide is heavier than air and formed a lake in the front of the “Gate To Hell”. Because the bulls’ noses are at 90 centimeters above ground, they were directly inhaling the toxic gases of the cave. The priests, on the other hand, were always careful to keep their heads up in order to breath clean air.