We here at Giant Freakin’ Robot are a lot more inclined to believe in the fact that ancient people believed in Hell as a place on Earth, rather than believing in Hell itself. Call us Negative Nancy if you will, but it’s always more fun when the visions that affected people throughout history were caused by natural effects instead of religious ones. Because that means I can have a few of my own.
Now that arguably the most famous “Hell on Earth” has been discovered in Turkey, it’s a lot clearer what people were putting their beliefs into: a fucking scary killer cave that oozed hallucinatory fumes. As presented at an Italian archaeology conference earlier this month, a team led by University of Salento’s professor of classic archaeology Francesco D’Andria unearthed ruins in southwestern Turkey that is claimed to be Pluto’s Gate – or Ploutonion/Plutonium, depending on if you’re Greek or Latin – a cave in the ancient city of Hierapolis located near the present day city of Pamukkale, a place legendary for its ailment-relieving hot springs.
“We found the Plutonium by reconstructing the route of a thermal spring. Indeed, Pamukkale’ springs, which produce the famous white travertine terraces originate from this cave,” D’Andria told Discovery News. A temple and pool were found within the ruins, along with steps leading to the cave that were the setting for ancient rituals, in which birds were thrown into the deadly vapors that came out of the cave. Bulls weren’t free from that sort of behavior either, if ancient texts are to be believed. Priests would be the only ones allowed to stand so close to the fumes, while others watched from farther back, in a tourist-like area that the ruins seem to correspond with. The priests would hallucinate and make all kinds of sacrifices and do all the weird shit that people associated with deities, but it was just some of Earth’s more pungent aromas making their way into then’s men’s accepting brains. The fumes from the pool also induced hallucinations if breathed in long enough, it seems.
The archaeologists also found semi-colums with inscriptions dedicated to Pluto and Kore, Hell Gods Incorporated. It’s a fantastic discovery, and should be renovated in some way. Perhaps a hookah bar or an opium den. Considering D’Andria is also the guy who claimed to have found the tomb for Saint Philip, one of Jesus’ 12 apostles, I’m waiting a little longer before I book my flight.