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ARGIVE HERAION Argolid, Greece.

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.


Hdt. 1.31, 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; A. Frickenhaus, “Griechische Banketthäuser,” JdI XXXII (1917) 121-30; C. W. Blegen, Prosymna, 2 vols. (1937); id., “Post-Mycenaean Deposits in Chamber Tombs,” ArchEph 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. Robinson, 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,” ibid., 222-74PI; 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,” AJA 77 (1973) 9-18; H. Lauter, “Zur frühklassischen Neuplanung des Heraions von Argos,” AthMitt 88 (1973) 175-87.


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