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Plunging into the Abyss: OCET’s thrilling expedition into Yemen’s mysterious “Well of Hell”

For centuries, ominous legends have swirled around the Well of Barhout, attributing it as a prison for malevolent jinn and warning of dire consequences for those who dare to approach...

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Plunging into the Abyss: OCET’s thrilling expedition into Yemen’s mysterious “Well of Hell”

Nestled in the remote eastern expanse of Yemen lies a geological wonder shrouded in mystery—the Well of Barhout, colloquially known as the “Well of Hell.”

Recently, the Omani Caves Exploration Team (OCET) embarked on a pioneering journey to explore the depths of this enigmatic sinkhole, uncovering natural marvels and dispelling age-old myths.

Descending to a staggering depth of 367 feet, the Well of Barhout presents a daunting spectacle, resembling a colossal eye gazing up from the desert floor.

The entrance to the “cursed” sinkhole is 98 feet in diameter. AFP/GETTY IMAGES

 

Despite its eerie appearance, the sinkhole is a purely natural phenomenon, captivating the imagination with its perfectly circular form and profound depth.

For centuries, ominous legends have swirled around the Well of Barhout, attributing it as a prison for malevolent jinn and warning of dire consequences for those who dare to approach.

However, armed with scientific curiosity and courage, geologist and caver Mohammad Al-Kindi led the OCET team on an unprecedented expedition to unravel the mysteries of this geological anomaly.

While two OCET team members managed the ropes at the surface, five others rapelled into the sinkhole. COURTESY MOHAMMED AL-KINDI

 

Setting foot near the gaping entrance of the sinkhole, Al-Kindi and his team braved the desert heat to embark on their historic descent. With meticulous preparation and modern equipment, they rappelled into the abyss, defying the superstitions that have long cloaked the Well of Hell in fear.

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As Al-Kindi descended into the depths, he encountered a realm of natural wonders concealed beneath the desert’s surface. Stalagmites, stalactites, and luminous cave pearls adorned the cavern walls, illuminated by underground waterfalls cascading from above.

The cavers found strange, almost transparent snakes (left) and clusters of cave pearls (right) throughout the cave. COURTESY MOHAMMED AL-KINDI

 

Despite initial concerns of encountering reptiles or spirits, the expedition unfolded without incident, revealing a vibrant ecosystem thriving in the depths of the sinkhole.

Beyond its geological marvels, the Well of Barhout holds cultural significance steeped in myth and legend. Local folklore attributes the sinkhole’s creation to ancient kings and imprisoned jinn, weaving tales of treasure and malevolence into its storied past.

Plunging into the Abyss: OCET's thrilling expedition into Yemen's mysterious "Well of Hell"
Marvels of Things Created and Miraculous Aspects of Things Existing, a medieval Arabic text by Al-Qazwini, depicts shape-shifting jinn in various forms. UNIVERSAL HISTORY ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

 

While the expedition dispelled many myths surrounding the Well of Hell, its allure and mystique endure, serving as a testament to the enduring fascination with the unknown.

 

Through scientific exploration and shared discovery, the OCET team has shed light on one of Yemen’s most enigmatic natural wonders, rewriting the narrative of the Well of Barhout for generations to come.

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