Tag Archives: Plutonium

The Gates of Hell — The Plutonium at Hierapolis

In a previous post I shared some images of the recently discovered “Plutonium” at Hierapolis (Colossians 4:13) in Turkey.

Artistic reconstruction of the Plutonium from “seeker.com.”

In a recent issue of Science, there is an interesting article based upon the investigation of Dr. Hardy Pfanza of the University of Duisburg-Essen in German—”This Roman ‘gate to hell’ killed its victims with a cloud of deadly carbon dioxide.”

Is it possible to walk through the gates of hell and live? The Romans thought so, and they staged elaborate sacrifices at what they believed were entrances to the underworld scattered across the ancient Mediterranean. The sacrifices—healthy bulls led down to the gates of hell—died quickly without human intervention, but the castrated priests who accompanied them returned unharmed. Now, a new study of one ancient site suggests that these “miracles” may have a simple geological explanation.

You are invited to check out the article (4-minute read) for the interesting details.  There is a very small image of the reconstruction of the image in the article.

Spoiler alert: it has to do with the time of day, and the density of Carbon Dioxide—and it helps to be over 18 inches tall!


View looking southeast at the recent excavations of the “New” Plutonium — January 2017.

Comments on above image: Note the doorway on the lower left, and the reflections on the water partially visible in the center of the image. There are apparently five long stairs to the left of the water. Evidently, people could watch rites associated with the Plutonium from these stairs.  According to ancient authors, poisonous vapors were emitted from the opening.

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The Gateway to Hell at Hierapolis

One of the most visited sites in Turkey is the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Hierapolis–Pamukkalle—famous for its glistening white travertine formations.  Hierapolis is a huge archaeological site and one of the places we like to visit is the Temple of Apollo and the nearby Plutonium.  Usually, we visited the following place that was considered to be the Plutonium.

View looking north-northwest at the foundations and the staircase that led up to the Temple of Apollo.

To the right of the foundations a small arch is visible, this is where many thought the Plutonium was located—detail below.

View looking at the remains of the “so–called” Plutonium that is located on the right side of the image—the “shell–shaped” opening.

However, in March of 2013 Francesco D’Andria, professor of classic archaeology at the University of Salento and excavator at Hierapolis announced that he had excavated the well–known, to ancient authors at least, Plutonium at Hierapolis—known as the gate to the Underworld.

This past January I made a special effort to find D’Andria’s excavations.  This site is located about 50 yards south-southeast of the Apollo Temple.  Unfortunately, the area is fenced off and is not yet open to the public.

View looking southeast at the recent excavations of the “New Plutonium.

Note the doorway on the lower left, and the reflections on the water partially visible in the center of the image. There are apparently five long stairs to the left of the water. Evidently, people could watch rites associated with the Plutonium from these stairs.  According to ancient authors poisonous vapors were emitted from the opening.

The following reconstructed image is from a very useful article in “seeker.com” that describes the discovery in detail.  The following view is from the opposite direction than the image above.

Artistic reconstruction of the Plutonium from “seeker.com.”

To read the extensive, descriptive article on the Plutonium Click Here.