Around the second century BCE, the kings of Pergamon built a thermal space at Hierapolis, which is now modern-day Turkey. Now, it just lies in ruins, but something within still stirs – something far more ancient than those that once lived atop it.
A cave ancient Romans believed to be a gate to the underworld was so deadly that it killed all animals who entered its proximity, while not harming the human priests who led them. Now scientists believe they have figured out why – a concentrated cloud of carbon dioxide that suffocated those who breathed it. It was also known as Plutonium.
What Is This Cave Actually?
This cave was Rediscovered by archaeologists from the University of Salento seven years ago. This cave is ancient more like 2,200 Years old. It was located in a city called Hierapolis in ancient Phrygia, now Turkey, and was used for animal sacrifices.
It was thought to be so deadly that it killed all animals which entered its proximity. Though it never apparently harmed the priests who led them there.
It was named after the Roman god of the underworld. It had something which proved to be lethal to anything that stood inside the cave for too long. It is known that humans that entered the cave fared better than the bulls, rams, and songbirds they often sacrificed, and a new paper has finally revealed why.
Greek historian Strabo (64 BCE – 24 CE) once wrote:
This space is full of vapour so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground. Any animal that passes inside meets instant death. I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last and fell.
This Mystery Is Now Solved.
Archaeologists who went to the cave’s location found that birds flying too close to its entrance were still suffocating and dropping dead, proving the rumours to be true.
So what’s to blame? Volcanologist Hardy Pfanz of the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany put it down to seismic activity under the ground – a deep fissure below the region which emits large amounts of volcanic carbon dioxide.
Measurements taken of the carbon dioxide levels in the arena connected to the cave found that the gas formed a ‘lake’ that was 40 centimetres above the arena floor. Sunlight and wind helped disperse this deadly aroma.
Thus, entering the cave before dawn proves the deadliest level concentration. It would ‘easily kill even a human being within a minute.’
Prof. Pfanz said:
The Galli [Eunuch priests] stood on stones around the poor bull or goat and demonstrated their supernatural powers. At this height they could stand for 20-40 minutes without being endangered.”
Nobody could enter the gate to hell without getting asphyxiated. But if the Galli kept their breath for a while they could crawl into the gate up to their waist.