The Statue of Zeus at Olympia

The colossal statue of Zeus, carved by the famed sculpture Phidias around 432 B.C., is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

The statue showed Zeus seated, and measured 40 feet tall. The sculpture was made of ivory, accented with gold. His magnificent throne was made of cedar wood, inlaid with gold, ebony, ivory, and other precious stones. In Zeus’s right-hand was a statue of the goddess of victory, Nike. In his left, he held a scepter, upon which perched an eagle.

What happened to the statue is a mystery. Some believe that it was destroyed in the fifth century A.D. when the Temple was destroyed. Others believe the statue was rescued and taken to Constantinople, where it was destroyed in a later fire.

In the 1950s, archaeologists discovered the workshop at Olympia where Phidias worked to create the statue. Molds, tools, and even a cup inscribed, “I belong to Pheidias” were found in the area. Using these tools, archaeologists have been able to re-create the techniques that Phidias used to carve his great statue.

A restored Roman statue of Zeus, made of marble and bronze. This is made in the same style as that used by Phydias. Photo courtesy Wikipedia.