Archaeologists digging in Turkey have found the guardians of the "Gate to Hell" -- two unique marble statues which once warned of a deadly cave in the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis, near Pamukkale.
Known as Pluto's Gate -- Ploutonion
in Greek, Plutonium in Latin -- the cave was celebrated as the portal to the underworld in Greco-Roman mythology and tradition. It was discovered in March by a team led by Francesco D'Andria, professor of classic archaeology at the University of Salento.
© Francesco D'Andria
One statue depicts a snake rolled onto itself, a clear symbol of the underworld. The other shows Kerberos, or Cerberus, the three-headed watchdog of Hell in Greek mythology. The 4-foot-tall marble statue resembles the Kangal, the Anatolian shepherd dog.
"The statues represent two mythological creatures," D'Andria told Discovery News
. "One depicts a snake, a clear symbol of the underworld, the other shows Kerberos, or Cerberus, the three-headed watchdog of hell in the Greek mythology."
Rolled onto itself, the snake looks threateningly toward anybody trying to approach it, while the 4-foot-tall Kerberos resembles the Kangal, the Anatolian shepherd dog.
"It's a pretty scary statue," D'Andria said.