Accessible by road from Mycenae (5 km) and Argos (10 km).
Located on a hill to the SW of Mt. Euboia, the Heraion
commands a view of the Argive plain and of the citadel
of Argos. The Sanctuary of Hera was founded on the
site of a prehistoric settlement. Except for a tholos tomb
on a ridge to the W, little can be seen of the settlement or
of the extensive Middle and Late Helladic cemeteries.
In the archaic and Classical periods the Argive cult of
Hera assumed major religious and political importance.
Two early 6th c. B.C. statues (now in the Delphi Museum)
commemorated Kleobis and Biton, Argive worshipers of
Hera. In the early 5th c. B.C., the Spartan king Kleomenes
seized the sanctuary in a war against Argos. By ca. 468
B.C., administrative control of the sanctuary had become
a source of dispute between Mycenae and Argos. The
cult continued to flourish in the Roman period, as is
evident from Imperial dedications. Discovered in 1831
by Colonel Gordon, the site has been excavated intermittently. The reconstructions and the dates proposed
for many of the structures are controversial; research
on these problems is now being done at the site.
The earliest and still the most impressive feature at the
Heraion is the “Cyclopean” wall. Tentatively dated to
the Late Geometric period, the massive wall of conglomerate boulders supports a paved terrace, which was once
approached by a ramp at the SE. No building is clearly
contemporary with this terrace, although a late 8th c. B.C.
terracotta model, rectangular in plan and having a gabled
roof and a prostyle porch (displayed along with other
finds from the site in the Athens National Museum) may
represent a temple that existed during this period. On the
terrace the stone stylobate of what should be considered
a later temple is partially preserved. The wide spacing
of the circular cuttings for columns suggests that it had
a wooden entablature, characteristic of an early stage in
the development of peripteral temples.
This temple was destroyed by fire in 423 B.C. A new
temple may already have been planned in the middle of
the 5th c. B.C., at the same time as the construction of a
lower terrace. The extant architectural members, however, seem to date from the very end of the century.
Designed by the Argive architect Eupolemos, the Doric
temple had six columns on the facades and twelve on
the flanks; its interior arrangement is less sure. Some
architectural details were Attic in style. The sculptural
decoration included marble metopes, pediments, cornice,
and akroteria; Polykleitos made the chryselephantine cult
statue. Only a platform of poros foundations remains in
situ. Fragments of a Hellenistic triglyph altar with a
meander pattern in low relief lie among the blocks to
the NE of the temple foundations.
The lower terrace had a monumental stairway or
stepped retaining wall at the S; at the W a road led to
Mycenae. At its E edge are the conglomerate foundations
of a large hypostyle hall, the function of which is unknown. Other variously dated structures line the N side
of the terrace. At the NE is a small rectangular building
with both interior column bases and partition walls. To
the W of this structure is a platform reached by a short
flight of steps and surmounted by bases for statues and
stelai. Farther to the W is a long stoa dated as early as
the 7th c. B.C. by the column capitals found within it.
The W end of the stoa appears to have undergone an
alteration when a tile flooring was installed.
Directly below the temple terrace are two relatively
well-preserved buildings. The structure to the W of the
temple is almost square in plan, having an open court
surrounded on three sides by covered porticos and flanked
on the N by an entrance corridor and a row of three
dining rooms. Archaic architectural members have been
cited as proof of a late 6th c. B.C. date, but this structure
may more probably have been built after the 5th c. B.C.
terrace wall. South of the temple is a stoa securely dated
to the middle of the 5th c. B.C. Its interior columns, one
of which lies fallen at the E, are Doric and extremely
slender. Among its refinements are a stepped back wall
which has projecting buttresses and a W wall which is
elaborated with decorative panels.
At the site there are several other structures of which
little is preserved and less is known. To the N of the
building with the peristyle court is a large structure,
which has been incorrectly identified as a propylon. To
the W of these foundations are the remains of a Roman
bath and of a large L-shaped gymnasium. Finally, to the
S of the temple are traces of a Roman building, which
has been identified as a foundry.
, 6.81-82; Hellanikos in FGrH
I 4 F 74-83; Thuc. 4.133
; Diod. Sic. 11.65
; Strab. 8.368
372; Paus. 2.17
; P. Stamatakis, Περὶ τοῦ ταρὰ τὸ Ἡραῖον καθαρισθέντος τάφου AthMitt
3 (1879) 271-86; C. Waldstein et al., The Argive Heraeum
, 2 vols. (1902-5)M
Frickenhaus, “Griechische Banketthäuser,” JdI
(1917) 121-30; C. W. Blegen, Prosymna
, 2 vols. (1937);
id., “Post-Mycenaean Deposits in Chamber Tombs,”
100 (1937) 1, 377-90; id., “Prosymna: Remains of Post-Mycenaean Date,” AJA
42 (1939) 410-44;
S. D. Markman, “Building Models and the Architecture
of the Geometric Period,” Studies Presented to D. M.
, ed. G. E. Mylonas (1951) 259-71; J. L.
Caskey & P. Amandry, “Investigations at the Heraion
of Argos, 1949,” Hesperia
21 (1952) 165-221; Amandry,
“Observations sur les monuments de l'Héraion d'Argos,”
; G. Roux, L'architecture de l'Argolide
aux IVe et IIIe siècles avant J.-C
. (1961) 57-65; J. J. Coulton, “The Columns and Roof of the South Stoa at
the Argive Heraion,” BSA
68 (1973) 65-85; S. G. Miller,
“The Date of the West Building at the Argive Heraion,”
77 (1973) 9-18; H. Lauter, “Zur frühklassischen
Neuplanung des Heraions von Argos,” AthMitt
R. S. MASON