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Have Archaeologists Discovered the Temple of Hercules?

Temple of Hercules
Hercules kills the Hydra of Lerna with the help of Iolaus. Public Domain

Researchers in Spain believe that they have found the Temple of Hercules Gaditanus, long-lost, in the remains of a series of buildings in Andalusia.

The remains have been found in the Bay of Cádiz, the ancient city Gadir-Gades, in Andalusia, according to a Smithsonian Magazine report.

The ancient Temple of Hercules, the mythological ancient Greek hero, has been one of the holy grails for archaeologists, a place where great men such as Hannibal, Julius Caesar, and Scipio Africanus visited to worship, but has vanished in the midst of time.

Even though the wider location of the temple was roughly known, no archaeological remains had been found so far.

However, researchers believe that the new findings and their study point to the Temple of Hercules.

Methods used to decipher the findings

Researchers from the Territorial Delegation and the University of Seville conducted a number of research trips to the area, using archaeological findings as a guide.

The information obtained from these trips revealed a different environment from what was previously believed to have existed in the area.

Researchers now believe there was a coastline where the remains are discovered where people had built a dock.

The new information about the area matches descriptions of the Temple of Hercules from ancient writers of the time.

The archaeologists will investigate the area and utilizing the data available they will attempt to reconstruct the history and determine chronology, typology and the uses of each of the structures they discovered.

Francisco José García, an archaeologist at the University of Seville, told Spanish newspaper that the findings are of great significance.

“We researchers are very reluctant to turn archaeology into a spectacle, but in this case, we are faced with some spectacular findings,” he said.

Hercules, the son of Zeus

Hercules (Heracles, Ηρακλής in Greek) is the most-loved hero of Greek mythology. He was the mythical son of Zeus and Alcmene, granddaughter of Perseus.

Zeus had said that the next son born of the Perseid house should become ruler of Greece, but after a trick of his jealous wife, Hera, the sickly Eurystheus, was born first and became king.

When Heracles was born, Hera sent two serpents in his cradle to kill him. However, baby Heracles strangled both snakes. Nevertheless, he grew up respecting and serving Eurystheus.

Eurystheus imposed upon Heracles the famous 12 Labors, which Heracles completed successfully, entering the realm of demi-gods:

1) The slaying of the lion of Nemea, whose skin he thereafter wore

2) The slaying of the nine-headed Hydra of Lerna

3) The capture of the stag of Arcadia

4) The capture of the wild boar of Mount Erymanthus

5) The cleansing of the cattle stables of King Augeas

6) The shooting of the monstrous man-eating birds of the Stymphalian marshes

7) The capture of the mad bull that terrorized the island of Crete

8)The capture of the man-eating mares of King Diomedes of the Bistones

9) The taking of the girdle of Hippolyte, queen of the Amazons

10) The seizing of the cattle of the three-bodied giant Geryon, who ruled Erytheia

11) The bringing back of the golden apples kept at the world’s end by the Hesperides

12) The bringing up from the underworld of the three-headed dog Cerberus, guardian of Hades

Having completed the 12 Labours, Heracles undertook further tasks and warlike campaigns. One of them was to fight the river god Achelous for the hand of Deianeira.

As he was taking her home, the Centaur Nessus tried to violate her, and Heracles shot him with one of his poisoned arrows.

The Centaur, dying, told Deianeira to preserve the blood from his wound, for if Heracles wore a garment rubbed with it he would love none but her forever, and she did so.

Years later, Heracles fell in love with Iole, daughter of Eurytus, king of Oechalia. Jealous Deianeira, sent Heracles a garment smeared with the blood of Nessus.

But the blood was poisonous and Heracles died when he wore it. His body was placed on a pyre on Mount Oeta for the fire to consume his mortal part.

His divine part ascended to heaven, becoming a god. There he was reconciled to Hera and married Hebe.

The legend of Heracles was later adopted by the Romans who called him Hercules, hence the Temple of Hercules became a place of worship.



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