Hercules, also known as Heracles, is a divine hero in Greco-Roman mythology. Son of the god Jupiter and the mortal Alcmene, he was revered for his supernatural strength and is known for his adventures, which saw him complete 12 labours.
Archaeologists from the University of Seville and the Andalusian Institute of Historical Heritage claim to have discovered the lost Temple of Hercules Gaditanus. Using information they obtained from documentaries and aerial photographs, the researchers found a large rectangular structure submerged in the Bay of Cadiz.
The structure, nearly 1,000 feet long, 500 feet wide, and matches the ancient descriptions of the temple, is only visible in low tide.
“We researchers are very reluctant to turn archaeology into a spectacle, but in this case, we are faced with some spectacular findings. They are of great significance”, said Francisco Jose Garcia, an archaeologist at the University of Seville.
Built around the eighth or ninth centuries BCE, ancient records say the temple had massive columns and bronze statues depicting Hercules’ 12 labours. An eternal flame inside the temple was maintained by a priest.
Hercules was worshipped and revered for his strength and care for mortals, whom he protected from various monsters. His temple became a popular pilgrimage site, where Greeks and Romans prayed for strength. Researchers say Roman statesman Julius Caesar and Carthaginian General Hannibal were among those who visited the temple.
Scientists say they plan to conduct more fieldwork to confirm their findings, but note that the conditions at the site – the structure is under water most of the time – make it challenging to examine the discovery.