For untold centuries, the Well of Barhout in eastern Yemen, also known as the Well of Hell, has been feared by locals who believe it is a gateway to the underworld or a prison for genies. A team of Omani cavers, however, say they descended to the bottom and found snakes and dead animals but no sign of the supernatural, AFP reports. The hole in a desert region of Al-Mahra province is about 100 feet wide and almost 370 feet deep. Mohammed al-Kindi, a geology professor at the German University of Technology in Oman, rappelled to the bottom with seven colleagues. They recorded video in the cave below.
"We collected samples of water, rocks, soil and some dead animals but have yet to have them analysed," Kindi says. "There were dead birds, which does create some bad odors, but there was no overwhelming bad smell." He says snakes were abundant, as were "cave pearls," shaped by falling water over thousands of years. He tells the National that the water from the "Well of Hell" is said to be "the most evil," but "all we saw was pure freshwater down there. We even drank an entire bottle and nothing happened to us!"
While others claim to have entered the hole and returned, Kindi says the team saw no footprints or other traces of human activity. The professor, who plans to investigate a similar hole in the Hadramout region, says the name "Well of Hell" should now be dropped. But the superstition might not fade so quickly: According to Islamic and pre-Islamic folklore, genies can be invisible —or take the form of snakes. (Read more discoveries stories.)