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Ancient Structures: The Temple of Hera
Posted In: Ancient Civilizations  10/25/11
By: Yona Williams

When planning a visit to Olympia, you should know that traces of one of the oldest buildings on the site  can be experienced – the Temple of Hera. In this article, you will learn more about the importance of the temple, as well as some historical connections to the attraction.

The first buildings established of the Temple of Hera were erected with a small and uncomplicated size. None of the structures showcased any of the more elaborate styles that were to come in later centuries. The first temple was built during the middle of the 7th century BC. At first, the building was fairly small – only measuring around 10 meters by 40 meters. Around 600 BC, an opisthodomos (rear room of an ancient temple) was added alongside a ring of columns. In the end, the temple measured 18.75 meters by 50 meters – an improvement from the original design. Today, the temple offers a glimpse into the oldest of construction methods in ancient Greek times.

Unlike some of the most well-known of ancient structures of Greece, not everything was built with marble. Early examples of architecture relied on local materials. This meant that the Temple of Hera was constructed using local limestone. The upper parts of the walls were fashioned out of unbaked brick. Other parts of the temple used terracotta and roof tiles made out of terracotta.

In the beginning, the columns of the temple were made out of wood, but closer to the end of 7th century BC, techniques in architecture were quickly changing. Trade also influenced the way ancient buildings were constructed. When columns needed to be replaced because they became a causality of war, an earthquake or rotting wood, the new columns were made out of stone.

Inside of the Temple of Hera, there was a pedestal where the cult statue of Hera once stood. The goddess was depicted as sitting on her throne with Zeus standing by her side. The only thing that remains of the statue is her head. The temple is also believed to have housed many important objects of the ancient Greek culture. For example, there is a detailed account that says a bronze disk belonging to Iphitus and a carved ivory chest are supposed to be hidden. The temple also housed the Hermes of Praxiteles, which has since been transferred to the museum.

The Temple of Hera stood for about 1,000 years until the late 3rd century AD. Today, visitors come to see some of the columns that once stood thousands of years ago.


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