Plan of Geometric to early Archaic phase (8th - 7th c. BC), with Second He...

View of Vathy Bay and town, Vathy, Samos, Heraion

Port and town of Vathy from W, Samos, Heraion

Tower in W of city fortification wall, Samos, Heraion

Plan of Archaic phase (ca. 6th c. BC), over previous phases' remains,...

View from Heraion to Straits of Mykale, Samos, Heraion

Summary: Sanctuary of Hera.
Type: Sanctuary
Region: Sporades


Dark Age







The Heraion is located in marshy ground at the mouth of the river Imbrasos ca. 6 km W of the ancient capital city of Samos.


The earliest evidence for occupation at the site goes back to the Early Bronze Age, but the first structures of a definite religious character (altar and temple) date to the Dark Ages.

The sanctuary may have served a local Carian divinity originally, but the Hellenic religion probably arrived with the early Ionian colonists. According to Greek myth, it was here, beside a sacred bush, that Hera was born and married. A festival was held every year at the Heraion to celebrate the marriage of Hera and Zeus.

In the mid 6th century B.C. the sanctuary was enlarged and embellished during the reign of Polycrates and the 1st Great Hera Temple was built by the architect Rhoikos.

At ca. 530 B.C. Samos was captured by the Persians and the Hera Temple was destroyed by fire. A 2nd Great Temple was started at the end of the 6th century B.C., but it was never completed.

Samos was a member of the Delian League and became an Athenian colony in 365 B.C. After 190 B.C. Samos came under the control of Pergamon and finally under Roman rule. The sanctuary continued to develop throughout the Hellenistic and Roman periods, but was plundered a number of times by pirates and barbarians during its later history. It was also plundered by Antony in 39 B.C., but Augustus restored many of its art works.


Visited by Society of Dilettanti in 1812 and Ross in 1841. Minor test excavations by Gerard, Clerc, Kavvadias and Sophulis at end of 19th century. Excavated by German Archaeological Institute 1910-14, 1925-39, and since 1952.

Sources Used:

PECS, 802-803; Rossiter 1977, 634-638

Other Bibliography:

Ross, Reisen (1843) 2, 142ff. Gerard, BCH 4 (1880) 383ff. Clerc, BCH 9 (1885) 505ff. Kavvadias and Sophulis, Prakt (1902) 11ff; (1903) 10ff. T. Wiegand, "Erster vorläufiger Bericht," Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften (formerly Königliche or Preussische Akademie), Abhandlungen, philosophisch-historische Klasse (1911) 1ff. M. Schede, "Zweiter vorläufiger Bericht," D.A.d.Wiss. Abh. phil.hist Klasse (1929)1ff. AA (1929) 147ff. AM 55 (1930) 1ff; 58 (1933) 1ff (issue devoted to the Heraion). Reports almost annually in AA and AM since 1929. Series of final publ. began to appear in 1961: V. Milojcic, Samos I: Die prähistorische Siedlung unter dem Heraion (1961 Bonn). O. Reuther, Der Heratempel von Samos (1957 Berlin). H. Walter, Das Heraion von Samos (1976 Munich). H. Kyrieleis, Führer durch das Heraion von Samos (1981 Athens). R. Tölle, Die Antike Stadt Samos (1969 Mainz).