Though not as fiery as the Google Maps "gate to hell" spotted earlier this year, Italian scientists believe they may have found the famed "gate to hell" known as Pluto's Gate. The site was believed to have been built on top of a cave that emits toxic gas, which was believed by the Greeks and Romans to be the entrance to the underworld, where Pluto, god of the underworld, resided. The temple at the site is thought to have been destroyed by Christians in the 6th century.
According to a Discovery News report, Italian archaeologists at the University of Salento believe they have found the cave in Turkey. After retracing the route of a thermal spring, the scientists found a cave with ruins - including columns bearing inscriptions referring to the gods Pluto and Kore.
Ancient texts place Pluto's Gate in the city of Hierapolis, now present-day Pamukkale, Turkey, where archaeologists found the ruins.
The scientists told Discovery News that a number of birds died during the excavation process, killed by carbon dioxide fumes that emanate from the cave. Researchers state that worship ceremonies at the site in ancient times involved animal sacrifice, in which animals would be thrown into the cave. Pilgrims are also reported to have slept near the entrance to the cave, where they would experience "visions."
(Image courtesy Francesco D'Andria/University of Salento)