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Entrance to Underworld

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Entrance to Underworld
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View looking down at the east wall where there is an arched opening that is thought to lead to the underworld!  According to the excavator, noxious gases were (are?) emitted from this opening—and this was the "gate to hades"!  This arched way is flanked on both sides by a "colonnade" of pilasters in the Ionic order.

According to ancient authors, rites were performed at the entrance of this cave.  Bulls were sacrificed by causing them to be asphyxiated by the fumes from the cave.  If thermal waters also flowed from this cave, then there must have been some sort of raised platform on which the rites were performed—that is, above the water.

The pool was surrounded on three sides by stone benches on which worshipers would sit and observe the rituals taking place around and below them.  The benches are well-preserved above the cave and are visible on the left (east) side of the photo.

Various sculptures symbolic of the Underworld were found in the vicinity, including a colossal statue of Pluto (12 feet tall, see replica here), two statues of serpents, and a statue of Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guarded the entrance to the Underworld.

In March 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, Plutonium at Hierapolis—known as the gate to the Underworld.