In his Description of Greece, the second-century A.D. traveler Pausanias tells of a second festival held at Olympia, called the Heraia.

Every four years a committee of 16 married women, one from each of the cities of the region, wove a sacred robe called a peplos for Hera (the wife of Zeus) and held games—footraces for unmarried girls—in three age groups. The three races were held in the stadium at Olympia, though the race was only 5/6 the length of the dromos (the running track in the stadium) for boys and men.

Pausanias vividly describes the girls running their races: their hair hangs down their back, their chiton reaches to just above the knees, and they bare their right shoulder as far as the breast (as can be seen in the early-fifth-century B.C. bronze figurine, probably from Sparta). Each victor received an olive wreath, a portion of the cow that was sacrificed to Hera, and the right to make an offering to Hera.

The Temple of Hera, the earliest temple at Olympia, was built around 600 B.C. It was a Doric structure originally with wooden columns, though these were gradually replaced with stone columns. Some scholars believe that in the beginning this temple was used to house both the cult of Zeus and the cult of Hera, since the Temple of Zeus at Olympia was not built for almost 150 years.—D.G.R.