Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

Special Introductory Offer!

Mythological Creatures Unearthed at Pluto’s Gate

Monday, November 18, 2013

Plutos Gates CreaturesPAMUKKALE, TURKEY—Two marble statues, one depicting the three-headed watchdog Cerberus, and the other a snake rolled onto itself, have been discovered by a team led by Francesco D’Andria of the University of Salento. These guardians of the underworld were found in the thermal springs at the site of the Plutonium, or Pluto’s Gate, in the Phrygian city of Hierapolis. The Plutonium and the city’s warm waters were popular pilgrimage sites until the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire. Then, sometime between the fourth and sixth centuries A.D., the two statues were damaged, probably by Christian pilgrims to the tomb of Saint Philip, which was discovered in the ancient city last year. “These details show the growing conflict between the new and old cults, and the resulting marginalization of the traditional pagan religion,” explained Alister Filippini of the University of Palermo and the University of Cologne.