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Giant cave may have inspired mythical Hades

Posted on Friday, 30 November, 2012 | Comment icon 14 comments | News tip by: Still Waters

Image credit: Henryk Siemiradzki

A vast cave system known as Alepotrypa in Greece was a bustling neolithic hub for thousands of years.

The gigantic cavern was so large that it would have resembled something like Moria in the Lord of the Rings. Thousands of people would have used the caves as shelter, for trade, for burying their dead and for other rituals. Excavations since the 1970s have unearthed tools, pottery and other valuables from the period. "Alepotrypa existed right before the Bronze Age in Mycenaean Greece, so we're kind of seeing the beginnings of things that produced the age of heroes in Greece," said archaeologist Michael Galaty.

Around 5,000 years ago however everything changed when the cave collapsed, killing those who were inside. It isn't clear what caused the calamity however an earthquake is a likely explanation. Researchers have been painstakingly unearthing the remains of the cave's former inhabitants, many of which were buried alive while working on their everyday chores.

"A giant cave that might have helped serve as the inspiration for the mythic ancient Greek underworld Hades once housed hundreds of people, potentially making it one of the oldest and most important prehistoric villages in Europe before it collapsed and killed everyone inside, researchers say."

  View: Full article |  Source: Live Science

  Discuss: View comments (14)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #5 Posted by NikkiAidyn on 29 November, 2012, 19:48
Interesting reading guys. Thanks!
Comment icon #6 Posted by Abramelin on 29 November, 2012, 20:19
I have a bit more... The Phoenicians, and their Hebrew kin who often traveled along with them, most probably not only visited Cornwall to trade/mine tin, but also sailed up into the North Sea. They would have had no knowledge or experience of mudflats and tides and may have shipwrecked often on them. Now what could they have called those mudflats? "She'ol" maybe? Later to become "shoal" (and many similar names in the Germanic languages around the North Sea)? And from "She'ol" to "shoal" to "hell"? This is not just some folk etymology;... [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by jbondo on 30 November, 2012, 16:33
I realize that I didn't mention the term She'ol and you are correct in definition Abramelin. Can you please show me Biblically where it mentions the "North Sea" as being Hell? I'm not trying to argue, but I am always up for learning. I also, think words can be applied to different scenarios as well, that's why I wouldn't completely disagree with you. By the way Hilander, I love your avatar!
Comment icon #8 Posted by Abramelin on 30 November, 2012, 16:47
LOL, I thought, "What?!" But this is why you ask: Much later this ancient name for the North Sea was adopted by the Christians instead of the original Hebrew name "Sheol" But the sentence should have been Much later this ancient name for the North Sea - Hell - was adopted by the Christians as a name for the Underworld, and so on. Somehow things got mixed up, and I didn't even notice it. It would of course be very interesting if the original or one of the oldest names of the North Sea was indeed based on a Semitic word, She'ol' and then later changed into ... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by ad hoc on 30 November, 2012, 22:39
Sounds amazing. In the main chamber Big Ben would fit nicely lying on its side. Awesome that only the entrance collapsed, preserving the cave in all its glory! ...although I guess that means the people inside died a slow death. :/
Comment icon #10 Posted by 3.0 on 1 December, 2012, 4:57
It is a very intersting discovery. But, I suspect Hades (or the Underworld) could have been the Mediterranean Basin. Thousands of years ago, when it was closed off from the Atlantic. And perhaps traded with ancient Atlantis and Athens of old. Before Atlantis sank, and Hades was flooded when the land bridge gave way at the strait of gibraltar! It, just a theory.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Abramelin on 1 December, 2012, 7:09
The Med was closed off from the Atlantoc some 5 million years ago, not mere thousands.
Comment icon #12 Posted by 3.0 on 5 December, 2012, 19:45
This is true, but there was another time when the levels may have gone enough to close off the Med. H. G. Wells speculated about this in one of his books, rightly or wrongly. Read about it here:
Comment icon #13 Posted by Abramelin on 6 December, 2012, 10:55
But there is no geological proof that happened in the last 15,000 years or so. .

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