Argive Heraion

The Argive Heraion was the main sanctuary of Argos and is one of the best-preserved and most scenic sites in the Argolid. Its ruins are situated 8 km northeast of Argos on the slopes of Mount Euboea. The goddess Hera, patron of the polis of Argos, was worshipped there. Her Argive sanctuary was the most famed centre of her worship.

Coordinates: 37° 41′ 31″ N, 22° 46′ 29″ E

heraion

The Argive Heraion was built over the remains of a Mycenaean settlement and archaeological evidence suggests that cultic activity at the Heraion may date back to as early as the 10th century BC. The sanctuary occupied three artificial terraces on a site above the Argive plain. The upper terrace was built using huge Cyclopean blocks of possible late Geometric date (760–700 BC) and shortly thereafter a temple of mud brick and wood with a colonnade was added. The Old Temple of Hera was one of the earliest colonnaded temples in Greece. It was destroyed by fire in 423 BC and has almost completely disappeared.

heraion_of_argos_reconstruction_on_a_1902_painting

The middle terrace was dominated by the New Temple of Hera which was built by the architect Eupolemos of Argos c. 420-410 BC following the fire. The famous chryselephantine statue of Hera (made of gold and ivory over wood core) by Polykleitos was housed in the temple’s cella. The traveller Pausanias, who visited the temple in the 2nd century AD, provided a brief description of the sculptures that decorated the pediment and the metopes of the temple: “over the columns some sculptures represented the birth of Zeus and the battle of the gods and giants, other the Trojan wars and the capture of Troy”. Some of the sculptures can be seen in the Archaeological Museum in Athens.

Other structures located on the middle terrace included one of the earliest examples of a building with a peristyle court that seems to have served as a dining hall. Stoas were constructed to the south and below the temple terrace. On the lowest terrace was a stoa dating to the 5th century BC and an Archaic retaining wall with a flight of steps which ran the length of the middle terrace. Further west stood the Roman bath-house and the palaestra.

The sanctuary remained important during the Roman period. According to Pausanias, Hadrian dedicated a peacock in gold and precious stones at the Argive Temple of Hera in 124 AD (peacocks were regarded as birds sacred to Hera). Before him, Nero dedicated a purple cloak in 67 AD.

The Heraion was rediscovered in 1831 by the General Thomas Gordon who dug there five years later. Between 1892 and 1895 it was excavated by the Anglo-American archaeologist Charles Waldstein in the first archaeological campaign undertaken by the newly founded American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

PORTFOLIO

Overall view of New Temple of Hera from the North Stoa.
Overall view of New Temple of Hera from the North Stoa.
Northeast corner of the New Temple of Hera on the middle terrace.
Northeast corner of the New Temple of Hera on the middle terrace.
Central section of New Temple foundations.
Central section of New Temple foundations.
Overview of the North Stoa on the middle terrace,
Overview of the North Stoa on the middle terrace,
Overall view of North Stoa.
The North Stoa on the middle terrace.
Overall view of the West Peristyle Building.
Overall view of the West Peristyle Building.
East colonnade of West Peristyle Building.
East colonnade of West Peristyle Building.
The South Stoa.
The South Stoa on the lower terrace.
The foundations of the Old Temple of Hera on the upper terrace.
The foundations of the Old Temple of Hera on the upper terrace.
Overall view of New Temple of Hera from the upper terrace.
Overall view of New Temple of Hera from the upper terrace.
Overall view of New Temple of Hera and the middle terrace from the upper terrace.
Overall view of New Temple of Hera and the middle terrace from the upper terrace.

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Bassae

Bassae is an archaeological site in Oichalia, a municipality in the northeastern part of Messenia, Greece. In classical antiquity, it was part of Arcadia. Bassae lies near the village of Skliros, northeast of Figaleia. It is famous for the well-preserved mid- to late-5th century BC Temple of Apollo Epikourios. Bassae was the first Greek site to be inscribed on the World Heritage List (1986).

The Temple of Apollo Epikourios (‘Apollo the Helper’) was built in a quiet and isolated site, high on a rocky ridge of Mount Kotylion (1,131 metres) at Bassae in south-west Arcadia. The mountain is scored with ravines (bassai or bessai in ancient Greek), which gave the place the name “Bassae”.

Coordinates: 37° 25′ 47″ N, 21° 54′ 1″ E

Archaeological researches have determined that the site was in continuous use since the archaic period, the existing temple being the last of four on the site. The classical temple is thought to have been built between 430 BC and 400 BC. It is made of local grey limestone, while parts of the roof, the capitals in the cella and the sculptured decoration are made of marble. Like several other temples of Arcadia, the temple is aligned north-south, instead of the usual east-west, probably due to some local tradition or to the limited space available on the steep slopes of the mountain.

The temple is unique as it combines elements of the three architectural orders of antiquity (Doric, Ionic and Corinthian). Doric columns form the peristyle while Ionic columns support the porch and Corinthian columns feature in the interior. The Corinthian capital is the earliest example of the order found to date. The temple has six columns on the short side and fifteen on the long sides, instead of the period’s usual ratio 6 x 13. That feature gives the temple its characteristic elongated shape.

PORTFOLIO

The Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae, Opisthodomos and west colonnade, Arcadia, Greece
The Opisthodomos and west colonnade of the Temple of Apollo Epikourios.
The Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae, Opisthodomos and west colonnade, Arcadia, Greece
The west colonnade.
The Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae, Opisthodomos and west colonnade, Arcadia, Greece
The west colonnade.
The Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae, Opisthodomos and west colonnade, Arcadia, Greece
The Opisthodomos, the back room of the Apollo Epikourios.

The most eminent decorative feature of the temple is the continuous Ionic frieze that run around the interior of the cella. On the south and south east sides of the frieze are arranged a series of slabs showing the battle fought by Herakles and the Greeks against the Amazons, the mythical race of warrior-women.

The Bassai sculptures, marble block from the frieze of the Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae (Greece), Greeks fight Amazons, about 420-400 BC, British Museum
The Bassai sculptures, marble block from the frieze of the Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae (Greece), Greeks fight Amazons, about 420-400 BC, British Museum.
The Bassai sculptures, marble block from the frieze of the Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae (Greece), Lapiths fight Centaurs, about 420-400 BC, British Museum
The Bassai sculptures, marble block from the frieze of the Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae (Greece), Lapiths fight Centaurs, about 420-400 BC, British Museum.

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