Gate of Hell to open to visitors
The Gate of Hell (Plutonium), which was discovered in 2013 in the excavations in the ancient city of Hierapolis, located next to Pamukkale in western Turkey, and which was considered as the “gateway to the land of the dead” in the ancient world, is set to be opened to visitors this year.
Thanks to modern science, the mystery of the gate has been solved during the examinations there. It was reported that the animals, sent to the cave during the sacred ceremonies held in the ancient times at the Gate of Hell, died due to the effect of carbon dioxide gas.
In the ancient city of Hierapolis, which was founded by the King of Pergamon Eumenes II in the 2nd century B.C. and means “holy city,” an Italian excavation team, led by Professor Francesco D’Andria discovered a structure that sheds light on the past of the region.
D’Andria and his team found the Gate of Hell, which is considered the “gateway to the land of the dead” in the ancient world, and one of the original sources of thermal waters that formed the Pamukkale travertine pools.
After its discovery, the Gate of Hell was closed for the safety of visitors on the grounds that it was emitting poisonous gas, and excavation work has been initiated in the area.
Restoration work has been completed at the Gate of Hell, the mystery of which was solved after the investigations. The statue of Hades, the god of the underworld, and the three-headed guard dog of Hell, Kerberos, were also placed in the structure, a significant part of which was revived.
A walking path was also built around the Gate of Hell, which is planned to be opened to visitors in September, at a distance where the poisonous gas would not affect the visitors.
Archaeologist Coşkun Daşbacak, assistant to Italian Lecce University’s Professor Grazia Semeraro, who is now the head of the excavations in the ancient city of Hierapolis, said that said that plutonium had an important and mysterious place in ancient belief.
Daşbacak stated that living beings died due to the carbon dioxide gas in the Gate of Hell, where the thermal water that gives Pamukkale its whiteness comes out, and that therefore sacred ceremonies were held here in ancient times.
“With the restoration work, we reorganized the sanctuary in Plutonium in the same way as it was used for religious ceremonies in ancient times. This place was arranged as a sanctuary during the Phrygian period. It was called ‘the gateway to the land of the dead’ in ancient times. Carbon dioxide gas comes out with 34 degrees hot water from underground. It was determined that water and gas came out of this area due to the fractures in the fault line here. Priests working in this area, which was considered sacred in the past, held their breath and went inside with live animals. As if it was a divine intervention, the animals were poisoned and died due to the gas inside, while the priests came out alive. Thus, while the priests were considered sacred, it was believed that the dead animals were offered as a sacrifice to Hades,” he said.
Daşbacak stated that important studies are carried out on outgassing in the region, adding, “As the weather is warm and sunny in the region throughout the day, carbon dioxide gas dissolved rapidly. Because carbon dioxide gas is heavier than air, it accumulates on the ground, since it is cold at night. Since it creates a deadly gas lake at ground level, it was determined that animals closer to the ground died by being exposed to this poisonous gas. This is an interesting area with its historical and cultural structure. It was considered to be the entrance to the underworld in ancient times. We plan to open it in September and we expect that it will draw the interest of visitors.”