LLR Books

'Gate to Hell' Guardians Recovered in Turkey

Here's the link for the full story

Archaeologists digging in Turkey have found the guardians of the "Gate to Hell" -- two unique marble statues which once warned of a deadly cave in the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis, near Pamukkale.

Known as Pluto's Gate -- Ploutonion in Greek, Plutonium in Latin -- the cave was celebrated as the portal to the underworld in Greco-Roman mythology and tradition. It was discovered in March by a team led by Francesco D'Andria, professor of classic archaeology at the University of Salento.

"The statues represent two mythological creatures," D'Andria told Discovery News. "One depicts a snake, a clear symbol of the underworld, the other shows Kerberos, or Cerberus, the three-headed watchdog of hell in the Greek mythology."

Rolled onto itself, the snake looks threateningly toward anybody trying to approach it, while the 4-foot-tall Kerberos resembles the Kangal, the Anatolian shepherd dog.

Believed to have healing properties, the hot springs made the Roman city of Hierapolis -- now a World Heritage Site -- a popular destination for pilgrimages.

Both marble statues emerged from the thermal water, leaving little doubt that the site was indeed Pluto's Gate. The cave was described in historic sources as filled with lethal mephitic vapors.