Turkey: Italian archaeologists find Gate to the Underworld

In the ancient city of Hieropolis, in Phrygia

15 March, 19:46


(ANSAmed) – ANKARA, MARCH 14 – An Italian archaeological mission has found the historical Gate to the Underworld of the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis. The announcement was made this afternoon in Istanbul at a conference on Italian archaeology. The discovery was made by a mission under Francesco D’Andria from the University of Salento, which is in charge of the excavations in the Greco-Roman city. The ruins of the city are near the modern-day Pamukkale in Turkey. According to Greco-Roman mythology and tradition, the Gate to the Underworld, also known as Pluto’s Gate – Ploutonion in Greek, Plutonium in Latin – was the entrance point to hell. Both Cicero and Greek geographer Strabus referred to the Hierapolis Plutonium in their writings, and both had visited it.

It was a well-known place of pilgrimage in Antiquity. Since the excavations commenced in Hierapolis in 1957 – by an Italian mission under Paolo Verzone from the Turin Polytechnic – finding the exact location of Plutonium had been the focus of the archaeological digs. D’Andria told ANSAmed that he had found it by studying the vast literature from the period and reconstructing the route of a thermal spring to a cave, ascertaining that in that area bird corpses were collected. According to the tales of the travelers in those times, bulls were sacrificed to Pluto before pilgrimages into the Plutonium. The animals were led by priests to the entrance to a cave from which fetid fumes arose, suffocating them to death. The announcement of the discovery was made during a conference on Italian archaeological excavations in Turkey supported by Italian Ambassador to Turkey Giampaolo Scarante.



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