Archaeologists Uncover Gate to Underworld

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Archaeologists Uncover Gate to Underworld

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The site emits deadly carbon dioxide fumes - enough to kill a small bird flying nearby.

Archaeologists working in the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis have announced that they have found Pluto's Gate, a cave that was celebrated as a portal to the underworld in Greco-Roman mythology. Known as Ploutonion in Greek and Plutonium in Latin, the cave was described by contemporary sources as "full of vapor so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground. Any animal that passes inside meets instant death." While searching, the archaeologists found a site matching ancient descriptions, including a temple, pool, cave, steps leading to the cave. Francesco D'Andria, a professor of archaeology at the University of Salento, lead the team. D'Andria told Discovery news that "We found Plutonium by reconstructing the route of a thermal spring." The cave itself releases a constant cloud of carbon dioxide gas. "We could see the cave's lethal properties during the excavation. Several birds died as they tried to get close to the warm opening, instantly killed by the carbon dioxide fumes."

D'Andria says that the site was a famous destination for religious devotees, and had a tourist-like attraction for ancients. "People could watch the sacred rites from these steps, but they could not get to the area near the opening. Only the priests could stand in front of the portal." The priests would have sacrificed bulls at the portal mouth, and carried live animals inside, only to later emerge with them dead. According to D'Andria, small birds would have been given to pilgrims to throw into the cave, where the bird would fall dead. The Eunuchs of Cybele, a fertility goddess, were the priests who were able to enter the cave without dying. Strabo, a greek geographer contemporary to the operation of the temple, said that the eunuchs "hold their breath as much as they can," but also ascribes mystic powers or divine providence to the eunuchs' apparent invincibility. The temple would have been dedicated to Pluto and Kore, gods of the underworld.

Source: Discovery news

If you like our science coverage, you'll love Geekend Update! Check it out below.

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I don't know why it is that every science article I read today is becoming an Escapist news. Are you guys stalking me or something?
GET OUT OF MY HEAD OR AT LEAST TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES!

Curiously, it hasn't been mentioned anywhere yet how these CO2 fumes actually are produced.

They must've done more than simply hold their breath surely. Stood in a particular spot, carried some sort of bag, did a voodoo dance, something.

Mithcha:
They must've done more than simply hold their breath surely. Stood in a particular spot, carried some sort of bag, did a voodoo dance, something.

From the sound of things, the only animals with larger lung capacity than humans were not brought into the cave (the bulls were sacrificed at the entrance), so a human could walk in for about a minute (humans can hold their breath for almost three minutes depending on fitness and lung capacity) and have more than enough air while a bird or small mammal would suffocate.

A breathtaking discovery!

Curiously, it hasn't been mentioned anywhere yet how these CO2 fumes actually are produced.

Probably produced by volcanic activity. Greece lies between the Eurasian and the African tectonic plate and they also have quite a few earth quakes etc. They even seem to have their own "little" Aegean Sea Plate that is stuck between the Eurasian, Anatolian and African plates!

You know, when I saw the headline, I was certain the Escapist was being intentionally misleading again, but, no, it's more or less literally true.

I was so sure it was going to be another one of those false stories, like the whole "Koreans prove unicorns are real" debacle a while ago.

But nope, this is literally it. How incredible! They need to get inside to see how it works.

Mithcha:

Curiously, it hasn't been mentioned anywhere yet how these CO2 fumes actually are produced.

They said they found Plutonium, so I guess that is the cause. I'm surprised that plutonium is naturally occurring since I doubt the Greek/Romans had the means to produce it.

EDIT: Alright, I've made the silly mistake of assuming that Plutonium meant plutonium. No need for anymore corrections, thanks though. I guess we'll learn what caused the CO2 once the scientists have finished the digital reconstruction the Discovery article mentions.

Quaxar:
I don't know why it is that every science article I read today is becoming an Escapist news. Are you guys stalking me or something?
GET OUT OF MY HEAD OR AT LEAST TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES!

Curiously, it hasn't been mentioned anywhere yet how these CO2 fumes actually are produced.

old man withers with a bunch of dry ice, a flashlight, and two squirrels.

... it's always old man withers.

OT: along with the entrance to hell crater that has been burning continuously for over 50 years, I can say confidently that the Earth is scary, and that it needs to be upgraded from 'mostly harmless' to 'probably harmless'.

Pretty interesting solar rays capture system.

NightmareWarden:

Mithcha:

Curiously, it hasn't been mentioned anywhere yet how these CO2 fumes actually are produced.

They said they found Plutonium, so I guess that is the cause. I'm surprised that plutonium is naturally occurring since I doubt the Greek/Romans had the means to produce it.

They also mentioned that Plutonium is the name of the temple because Pluto refers to the god of the underworld AKA Hades.
I like when stuff like this is found. It revives a little bit of the world's mystery and fantasy. I'm well aware that there'll be some volcanic vent underneath there and not a river of souls, three headed hound, spooky ferryman or captive godess, but its fun to imagine.

NightmareWarden:

Mithcha:

Curiously, it hasn't been mentioned anywhere yet how these CO2 fumes actually are produced.

They said they found Plutonium, so I guess that is the cause. I'm surprised that plutonium is naturally occurring since I doubt the Greek/Romans had the means to produce it.

They don't mean the element. Plutonium is the latin name of the place.

NightmareWarden:

Mithcha:

Curiously, it hasn't been mentioned anywhere yet how these CO2 fumes actually are produced.

They said they found Plutonium, so I guess that is the cause. I'm surprised that plutonium is naturally occurring since I doubt the Greek/Romans had the means to produce it.

I'm not sure you understand what they mean by "plutonium". "Plutonium" is the Latin version of the Greek word "Plutonion" which means "the Gate of Pluto" (Pluto being the Roman name for Hades, which is the name of both the Greek god of death and his domain - the underworld). So when the article says Plutonium they really mean "the gate of Hades" or to break it down even further "the Gate of Hell". You're thinking about the element, which was probably named that due to scientists liking to be pretentious and use names from Greek and Roman mythology for their discoveries.

Huh, those two years of high school Latin did finally come in handy. I knew they weren't a waste! ...What, I totally did!

rofltehcat:
A breathtaking discovery!

Well you know what they say: Air today, gone tomorrow :P

it was a tourist attraction!? Guys c'mon, this has got to be some kinda gag otherwise... otherwise I don't even know what to think anymore.

You know, I always knew that the ancient Greeks had an idea of Hades being a physical place, and even that they had a vague idea of the direction. I didn't realize there was an actual cave that they could point to and go "see this? This is where Odysseus entered the underworld and talked to the dead."

Owyn_Merrilin:
You know, I always knew that the ancient Greeks had an idea of Hades being a physical place, and even that they had a vague idea of the direction. I didn't realize there was an actual cave that they could point to and go "see this? This is where Odysseus entered the underworld and talked to the dead."

Yeah, me neither. I mean, presumably no Greek ever journeyed to where Atlas held up the sky, for instance, despite that being a physical place in their mythology. But this actually is a physical place, and the conclusion that it's the entrance to the underworld is pretty darn reasonable, under the circumstances. Plus, once you can literally travel and see the "entrance to the underworld", it becomes a lot easier to imagine that you could in fact go hold a chat with Atlas if only you traveled far enough.

NightmareWarden:

Mithcha:

Curiously, it hasn't been mentioned anywhere yet how these CO2 fumes actually are produced.

They said they found Plutonium, so I guess that is the cause. I'm surprised that plutonium is naturally occurring since I doubt the Greek/Romans had the means to produce it.

A common error. Elements are not proper nouns, and should not be capitalized mid sentence. A great way to distinguish plutonium from Plutonium!

Well if the air kills you, of course it would lead you to the underworld!

EDIT: Also, I think this proves beyond a doubt that really crazy tourists have existed throughout humanity's history.

Huh, I'll be interested in what they find when they send a team down in haz-mat suits.

Eric the Orange:
Huh, I'll be interested in what they find when they send a team down in haz-mat suits.

Hopefully EA's dignity?

Mithcha:
They must've done more than simply hold their breath surely. Stood in a particular spot, carried some sort of bag, did a voodoo dance, something.

This is an example of a mazuku, a place where CO2 emissions from magma accumulate in low-lying areas. The name comes from East Africa, where there are many mazuku filled with the bones of animals who died in them, as well as those of the scavengers who went in after first victims.

Mammoth Mountain in California also does this. There's a place called Horseshoe Lake there, and it looks and feels like Mordor annexed it recently. All the trees are dead and there is next to no animal life because of the CO2. People have nearly died there because of it.

Lake Nyos, also in Africa, is a lake that occupied a mazuku, and occasionally releases massive amounts of CO2 all at once like a bursting can of soda. One of these eruptions was large enough that the CO2 flowed downhill and displaced the oxygen in a village, killing most of the people there without them realizing what was happening.

Carbon Dioxide? Are we sure they didn't say "dioxide" while meaning "monoxide"? Because this is what that sounds like. Also, CO2 can't kill trees, they breathe it.

The_Great_Galendo:

Owyn_Merrilin:
You know, I always knew that the ancient Greeks had an idea of Hades being a physical place, and even that they had a vague idea of the direction. I didn't realize there was an actual cave that they could point to and go "see this? This is where Odysseus entered the underworld and talked to the dead."

Yeah, me neither. I mean, presumably no Greek ever journeyed to where Atlas held up the sky, for instance, despite that being a physical place in their mythology. But this actually is a physical place, and the conclusion that it's the entrance to the underworld is pretty darn reasonable, under the circumstances. Plus, once you can literally travel and see the "entrance to the underworld", it becomes a lot easier to imagine that you could in fact go hold a chat with Atlas if only you traveled far enough.

That'd be a bit difficult considering some myths say he was turned into a mountain range by Perseus.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlas_%28mythology%29

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlas_mountains

thehorror2:
Carbon Dioxide? Are we sure they didn't say "dioxide" while meaning "monoxide"? Because this is what that sounds like. Also, CO2 can't kill trees, they breathe it.

They breathe-in oxygen actually when there is little to no light. CO2 is only consumed and converted into oxygen in photosynthesis. That said, the process itself isn't 100% productive.

Okay, guys? If you find a big door shouting "DO NOT OPEN UNTIL DOOMSDAY!", do me a big favor and LEAVE IT ALONE!

Just saying.

So, have we awakened yet another volcano now?

At least we got mroe palces than africa where CO2 is being emitted and can easily show you how crappy our evolution is for not allowing us to detect it (we detect lack of oxygen, but not CO2, therefore if you have enough oxygen but too much CO2 you will still die, without even understanding why. youll just fall asleep, coma, death)

Oh god, this reminds me of a comic book series so much, but I can't think of the name of it. I only read the first issue but it is something like, people find the door to hell, open it by mistake, deamons pour out, they send in a strike force of American soldiers to try and close it, they fail, and the issue ends with them letting some guy out of prison so he can try something. But the thing I remember about it most is a double panel where it shows hundreds of flying deamons circling Big Ben. Please, I need someone to help me figure out what this comic is called.

McMullen:

Mithcha:
They must've done more than simply hold their breath surely. Stood in a particular spot, carried some sort of bag, did a voodoo dance, something.

This is an example of a mazuku, a place where CO2 emissions from magma accumulate in low-lying areas. The name comes from East Africa, where there are many mazuku filled with the bones of animals who died in them, as well as those of the scavengers who went in after first victims.

Mammoth Mountain in California also does this. There's a place called Horseshoe Lake there, and it looks and feels like Mordor annexed it recently. All the trees are dead and there is next to no animal life because of the CO2. People have nearly died there because of it.

Lake Nyos, also in Africa, is a lake that occupied a mazuku, and occasionally releases massive amounts of CO2 all at once like a bursting can of soda. One of these eruptions was large enough that the CO2 flowed downhill and displaced the oxygen in a village, killing most of the people there without them realizing what was happening.

So, as well as holding their breath for three minutes as The Gentlemen said, they could've stood on a relatively high spot and been 'safe' so to speak? Sort of assuming the density of the Co2 wouldn't persist throughout the entire cave if it only forms in low-lying spots.

And how can gas flow? Or isn't it a gas when it comes out one of these mazuku?

Mithcha:

McMullen:

Mithcha:
They must've done more than simply hold their breath surely. Stood in a particular spot, carried some sort of bag, did a voodoo dance, something.

This is an example of a mazuku, a place where CO2 emissions from magma accumulate in low-lying areas. The name comes from East Africa, where there are many mazuku filled with the bones of animals who died in them, as well as those of the scavengers who went in after first victims.

Mammoth Mountain in California also does this. There's a place called Horseshoe Lake there, and it looks and feels like Mordor annexed it recently. All the trees are dead and there is next to no animal life because of the CO2. People have nearly died there because of it.

Lake Nyos, also in Africa, is a lake that occupied a mazuku, and occasionally releases massive amounts of CO2 all at once like a bursting can of soda. One of these eruptions was large enough that the CO2 flowed downhill and displaced the oxygen in a village, killing most of the people there without them realizing what was happening.

So, as well as holding their breath for three minutes as The Gentlemen said, they could've stood on a relatively high spot and been 'safe' so to speak? Sort of assuming the density of the Co2 wouldn't persist throughout the entire cave if it only forms in low-lying spots.

And how can gas flow? Or isn't it a gas when it comes out one of these mazuku?

All gasses can flow, dude. You never heard of jetstreams? Or air-currents? Gas flows from areas of higher pressure to areas of lower pressure, and if it's dense enough, settles like liquid would. I'm sure you've seen fog, steam, smoke... What did you think all that moving they do was? Go evaporate some dry-ice, see for yourself how gas can flow. This stuff is like, 6th grade science lesson.

mohahahaha! soon my satanic army will rise and i shall take this eart......oh. it's just a pool.

this is actually really cool. i didn't know old timely temples did have deadly boobietraps. now indiana jones makes way more sense. and it was a really cool system as well.

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geekend update is really starting to grow on me. the stream of ridiculous awesometivity is quite amusing

Aethren:

Mithcha:

McMullen:

This is an example of a mazuku, a place where CO2 emissions from magma accumulate in low-lying areas. The name comes from East Africa, where there are many mazuku filled with the bones of animals who died in them, as well as those of the scavengers who went in after first victims.

Mammoth Mountain in California also does this. There's a place called Horseshoe Lake there, and it looks and feels like Mordor annexed it recently. All the trees are dead and there is next to no animal life because of the CO2. People have nearly died there because of it.

Lake Nyos, also in Africa, is a lake that occupied a mazuku, and occasionally releases massive amounts of CO2 all at once like a bursting can of soda. One of these eruptions was large enough that the CO2 flowed downhill and displaced the oxygen in a village, killing most of the people there without them realizing what was happening.

So, as well as holding their breath for three minutes as The Gentlemen said, they could've stood on a relatively high spot and been 'safe' so to speak? Sort of assuming the density of the Co2 wouldn't persist throughout the entire cave if it only forms in low-lying spots.

And how can gas flow? Or isn't it a gas when it comes out one of these mazuku?

All gasses can flow, dude. You never heard of jetstreams? Or air-currents? Gas flows from areas of higher pressure to areas of lower pressure, and if it's dense enough, settles like liquid would. I'm sure you've seen fog, steam, smoke... What did you think all that moving they do was? Go evaporate some dry-ice, see for yourself how gas can flow. This stuff is like, 6th grade science lesson.

Meh, been years since I did any form of science and my science teachers were so shit I switched off, tend to do that when the lessons pretty much consist of "look at the shiny". Thought they were just moving, floating. I've never heard it be called "flowing" before. Flowing, to me, describes the action of a liquid, like a river flows. Even looking it up in the dictionary it never refers to gas. But ok, gas flows now.

The_Great_Galendo:

Owyn_Merrilin:
You know, I always knew that the ancient Greeks had an idea of Hades being a physical place, and even that they had a vague idea of the direction. I didn't realize there was an actual cave that they could point to and go "see this? This is where Odysseus entered the underworld and talked to the dead."

Yeah, me neither. I mean, presumably no Greek ever journeyed to where Atlas held up the sky, for instance, despite that being a physical place in their mythology. But this actually is a physical place, and the conclusion that it's the entrance to the underworld is pretty darn reasonable, under the circumstances. Plus, once you can literally travel and see the "entrance to the underworld", it becomes a lot easier to imagine that you could in fact go hold a chat with Atlas if only you traveled far enough.

There were many gates to the underworld in classical times. I believe the romans had an entry near Lake Averno. I believe that's where Aeneas descended to Hades, but that's a Roman story by Vergilius.

Aethren:

All gasses can flow, dude. You never heard of jetstreams? Or air-currents? Gas flows from areas of higher pressure to areas of lower pressure, and if it's dense enough, settles like liquid would. I'm sure you've seen fog, steam, smoke... What did you think all that moving they do was? Go evaporate some dry-ice, see for yourself how gas can flow. This stuff is like, 6th grade science lesson.

One of the classic kitchen science experiments is to take a jug of CO2 (usually created by mixing baking soda with vinegar) and pour it over a candle to put it out. It's awesome because you are literally pouring an invisible fluid over the candle. (in physics, the word 'fluid' refers to either a liquid or a gas - possibly a plasma too, not sure)

VoidWanderer:

Eric the Orange:
Huh, I'll be interested in what they find when they send a team down in haz-mat suits.

Hopefully EA's dignity?

Well...now you're just making an assumption here. I mean...did EA HAVE any dignity to begin with?

FalloutJack:
Okay, guys? If you find a big door shouting "DO NOT OPEN UNTIL DOOMSDAY!", do me a big favor and LEAVE IT ALONE!

Just saying.

You sir get bonus points for remembering that episode of The Real Ghostbusters.

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