Stratasys and 3DPtree, Recreation of the Statue of Zeus at
Olympia, 2016, Millennium Gate Museum, Atlanta, GA
“Zeus is a passionately amorous god; he mates with countless goddesses and mortal women, and his offspring are legion.” “Yet this same Zeus becomes the one god, and his concerns envelop the whole sphere of morality for both gods and humankind. He is the wrathful god of justice and virtue, upholding all that is sacred and holy in the moral order of the universe.” Zeus is the god of the sky, the cloud-gatherer of epic in Ancient Greek mythology, who rules the Mount Olympus as the king of the gods. In this article, I will analyze our piece, Recreation of the Statue of Zeus at Olympia of Stratasys and 3DPtree, and the way it portrays Zeus in Greek mythology.
The statue of Zeus at Olympia was a 13 meters tall giant figure made by the Greek sculptor Phidias. As one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the statue was lost and destroyed in the 5th century AD in a great fire. As a result, the only resources that can be used to study this piece are travelers’ accounts and drawings derived from ancient historical documents. The lack of data is the main challenge for the team of Stratasys and 3DPtree to overcome. After extensive research, in the year 2016, Stratasys, 3DPtree, and the Millennium Gate Museum in Atlanta recreated the Statue of Zeus in honor of the 2016 Olympic Game in Rio as a part of the “The Games: Ancient Olympia to Atlanta to Rio” exhibition. The 3D-printed statue was 1.8 meters tall instead of 13 meters. It was constructed of thermoplastic instead of the original wooden framework with ivory and gold panels, but the design was claimed to be as historically accurate as possible.
Greek traveler and geographer Pausanias depicted the Statue of Zeus in his words, “The god sits on a throne, and he is made of gold and ivory. On his head lies a garland which is a copy of olive shoots. In his right hand, he carries a Victory, which, like the statue, is of ivory and gold; she wears a ribbon and on her head a garland. In the left hand of the god is a scepter, ornamented with every kind of metal, and the bird sitting on the scepter is the eagle. The sandals also of the god are of gold, as is likewise, his robe. On the robe are embroidered figures of animals and the flowers of the lily.” The reconstruction of the statue to a large extent matches the depiction by Pausanias, for example, the goddess, Nike, who personified victory that stands on the right hand of Zeus and the scepter with an eagle on top in his left hand, which corresponds to the mythology that the eagle is one of the chief attributes and personifications of Zeus. However, differences exist between the two forms; for example, the wreath of olive sprays seems disappeared in many versions of the statue of Zeus, including the Olympian Zeus in the sculptured antique art of Quatremère de Quincy and the engraving of Phillipe Galle from the drawing by Maarten van Heemskerck. The olive tree represents wisdom, fertility, prosperity, immortality, and success in Greek mythology, and it is a gift from immortals to mortals. All of the symbolism of the olive tree corresponds to the characteristics of Zeus, even the fact that the olive tree is a gift from Gods to humans coincides with the action of Zeus in sending gifts to humankind. Therefore it is reasonable to see that the representations of Zeus in the description here and on the ancient coins used in southern Greece both wear an olive wreath on his head.
Atlanta’s Millennium Gate Museum is home to the restoration of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (Pearson). Stratasys returned The Statue of Zeus at Olympia of 422 BC to its former glory by reimagining it based on the inspirations drawn from the original sculptor, Phidias. In collaboration with the Millennium Gate Museum, Stratasys and 3DPTree used 3D model printing to recreate the statue.
The only accounts of Zeus at Olympia are from traveler’s accounts and depictions on coins, but the 3D model is claimed to be as historically accurate as possible based on these resources. While being only 6 feet tall compared to the 40-foot ivory, wood, gold, and gem statue, the 3D printers have the ability to replicate the details in thermoplastic material. The Statue of Zeus at Olympia was originally constructed at the temple in Olympia to honor the Greek god, Zeus. Zeus is the Olympian god of the sky and weather. He is the king of all other Gods and men, the chief figure within Greek mythology (Britannica, Sarpedon). Zeus is established as supreme although he shares his powers with his brothers (Morford et al. p. 114). Zeus’ rise to power was due to the battles of Titanomachy and Gigantomachy in which Zeus defeated his father, Cronus, as well as the Giants and Typhoeus (Morford et al. pp. 82-84). The statue of Zeus has him seated upon a cedarwood throne adorned with precious stones (Britannica, Statue of Zeus). In his outstretched right hand, he held a statue of Nike who embodies victory and in his left hand he held a sceptre with a perched eagle. The statue was noted for its divine majesty and goodness. According to Homer, heaven was located at the summit of Olympus because it is the highest mountain in Greece. Atop this mountain, Zeus could observe the affairs of men and govern all. The statue remained in the temple for around 800 years before it was taken by invaders and held in Constantinople. It was kept there until it was destroyed in a fire in 426 CE and no accurate copies of the statue survived.
The restoration of the statue is the centerpiece of an exhibit titled “The Games: Ancient Olympia to Atlanta to Rio'' which was timed to honor the 2016 Olympic Games and featured Greek artifacts (The Gate Museum). Many of these artifacts exceeded 2,500 years of age and told the story of Ancient Olympia as well as the Olympic Games. The Centennial Games was hosted by Atlanta, Georgia in 1996 and had an immense impact on the infrastructure and economy. Currently, Olympic monuments including the newly restored Statue of Zeus at Olympia embellish the city of Atlanta. The Statue of Zeus at Olympia is an example of precious works of arts that were destroyed and prior to 3D printing, these artifacts were thought to be lost forever (Watkin).
Zeus, the most powerful god presented in Greek myth, is the king of all of the gods, and might be the most familiar name you have heard from the Greek myth. To display his magnificent image to people around the world, a statue is necessary. A luxurious statue of Zeus made from gold and ivory was erected in the Temple of Zeus, Olympic, Greece around 435 BC. However, this magnificent and priceless peace was destroyed and lost to somewhere unknown. Fortunately, we still can see the image of Zeus with the recreation of the original statue at Olympia and 3DPtree, and that is also what I am going to introduce to you in my museum today.
As I have mentioned above, the image of the head of all kings in Olympic must be the most supreme to highlight Zeus’ outstanding statue. Thereafter, the magnificence of this piece is hard to imagine. Phidias, a well-known sculptor who had done the work of Athena Parthenos in the Parthenon previously was employed to finish this unprecedented sculpture. This piece is made of countless expensive materials such as gold and ivory just like what I have demonstrated at the introduction, and soaked by olive oil constantly to avoid being harmed because of its ivory texture. Also, the size of this piece is giant, about 41 feet tall, occupying half the width of the aisle of the temple built to house it (Wikipedia). However, the temple of Zeus fell into disuse because of the ban of participation in pagan cults by a roman emperor. Such a great sculpture has also been disused with the temple it is located in. Then in the fifth century, the statue of Zeus in the Olympics was damaged by a fire. The piece can be only seen by the recreation then.
What else, because of the lack of records, the piece’s history can be only understood by the description of ancient travelers. Pausania, a second century traveler and geographer described the statue of Zeus in this way: “the statue was crowned with a sculpted wreath of olive sprays and wore a gilded robe made from glass and carved with animals and lilies. Its right hand held a small chryselephantine statue of crowned Nike, goddess of victory; its left a scepter inlaid with many metals, supporting an eagle.” The olive is a kind of holy symbol, representing the supreme height of Zeus. The robe corresponds to his power, and the statue of the goddess of victory symbolizes his endless victory in every battle—ever since he beat his father and became the king of the world.
Zeus is a symbol of power no matter in the ancient or modern time. Thanks to modern techniques, we can see the recreation image of Zeus by 3D printing even though the original piece is damaged on fire. The recreation is not as luxurious as its original version, but still can let us take a glance of this powerful god, and have some influence on modern society.
Which god or divinity immediately comes to mind when asked to answer the most powerful one in Greek and Roman mythology? Unquestionably, Zeus has been depicted as the most indispensable, mightiest god in Greek mythology and honored in different ways to admire his existence. The etymology of his name, Zeus, expresses a bright sky that signifies that the whole cosmos falls under his control. Symbolizing his absolute power and honoring the Olympic games, ancient people who lived in that period constructed an outstanding piece – the statue of Zeus at Olympia, and even after its destruction, people in modern days continue to work on restoring it with advanced technologies. However, regardless of the purpose and construction period of the statue, people in both eras try to preserve Zeus’s significant symbols of power and dominance over the cosmos.
Zeus’s power was not fully ripen until he underwent two major wars: Titanomachy and Gigantomachy. The Titanomachy lasted for ten years between Titans and Olympians, and Zeus finally defeated his father, Cronus who swallowed each of his children as they were born (Morford et al. 82). Because of Zeus’s victory, he took over the archetypal title of the sky god from his father and started dominating the cosmos with his unstoppable power (La Fond, “Clash of the Titans: Zeus’s Rise to Power and Early Humans.”). Besides, another war between the Olympian gods and Giants, the Gigantomachy, was waged (Morford et al. 84). Unsurprisingly, Zeus brought a victory again to the Olympian gods and imprisoned his enemies in Tartarus to strengthen his power (La Fond). In result, the mighty god Zeus was finally established through these major victories and his powerful era had begun.
According to Zeus’s original myths mentioned above, his absolute power and undefeatable existence are fully recognized through a number of mythic narratives. Admiring Zeus and honoring the 2016 Olympic games, the statue of Zeus was raised again with a 3D printer by Stratasys and 3DPtree in 2016 (Newman). However, although Stratasys and 3DPtree simply designed this recreated statue in black and white and for the Olympic games, symbols of a scepter and Victory held in Zeus’s hands are consistently displayed to represent Zeus’s dominance over the cosmos and victory over the battles (Seidel), depicted in the original statue as well. Stratasys and 3DPtree also shortened the height of the statue by seven times because the size of the original statue was extremely large to generate the design, but made it taller than six feets at least (Newman). Despite decreasing the size and absence of colors of the statue in the recreated version, they keep trying to emphasize Zeus’s powerful existence and two significant symbols of the scepter and Victory.
Seeing Zeus’s unchanged symbols displayed in the recreated statue, Zeus still remains as the symbol of powerful, dominant, and potentially threatening to his enemies. Because he had a great influence on the Greek mythology with having a power of domination, he was always drawing attention when considering the most powerful god in the Greek and Roman mythology. Seidel mentions that the original statue was seven times taller than the average male, which can be further interpreted that gods such as Zeus are completely different creatures from humans. In result, the piece of Stratasys and 3DPtree has become a great paradigm not only to preserve his symbols of power and dominance, but also emphasize the difference in power between gods and humans.
Zeus was the head of the gods and the god who controlled them all. He is supreme, but he does share his powers with his brothers (Morford et al. 114). The master Greek sculptor Phidias has built the statue of Zeus to worship which this statue has become the one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (Cartwright). Now that the great building is no longer there, there are different folk versions of the missing Statue, but for now we can enjoy the Stratasys and 3DPtree, Recreation of the Statue of Zeus. I will analyze this Recreation of the Statue of Zeus from the Phidias’ inspiration of the statue which shows how it changes the visualization and the symbolization of the statues and the subsequent legacy of influence.
The sculptor Phidias was responsible for the statue of Zeus. Phidias is a famous Greek sculptor, architect, Athenian, close friend and artistic adviser to Pericles, also is the one of the most famous artists of his time. He was asked to make a similar monument to Zeus in a huge new temple. There, the Panhellenic Olympic Games are held every four years. At that time, the Olympic Games needed a new statue to increase the popularity of the games, so it was hoped that the construction of a great statue of Zeus would enhance people's happiness and become a spiritual pillar, thus attracting more travelers, pilgrims and sports fans from across the Mediterranean (Cartwright). Phidias gather the circular sculpture, relief, Mosaic, painting and other techniques together in the statue of Zeus, the various colors and textures of materials combined together, resulting in an extraordinary artistic effect. Furthermore, Pheidias was influenced by the time when people wanted to show the dignity, confidence and strength of the nation in silence. Phidias' sculpture of Zeus was undoubtedly silent, a feeling later referred to collectively as "divine stillness."
This statue was built around 436 BC, it was installed in the temple of Zeus in Olympia and remained there until 395 AD. Furthermore, the visualization of the statues is "almost 40 feet high and plated with gold and ivory, representing the god sitting on an elaborate cedarwood throne ornamented with ebony, ivory, gold, and precious stones". (Britannica). Phidias' idea was a huge, shiny, golden statue, so the god's skin which face, torso, arms and legs were in ivory and his beard, robes, and surfaces were made of precious materials, gold (for the clothing and ornaments) (Morford et al. 120).
It is also because Phidias wants to create the majestic and dignified image of trance which "shows a powerful but reigning God in the calm, assured of his victory." （landmarks of the world). Different from the other statues of Zeus which represent the fury and holding the flashes. Phidias’s statue of Zeus was seated on his throne, holding the Nike (Victory) in his right hand and in his left hand a scepter, on which perched his eagle (Morford et al. 120). Moreover, he is wearing the crown of an olive tree which symbolizes power. And one of the emotions that this statue is trying to convey is that Zeus is the guardian of the city in a benevolent way, rather than fear or threat. In the painting of Theft of fire in ancient Greece, The image of Zeus in it is undoubtedly fearful, both from the manner, the surrounding background and the woman in the painting. But at the time that Phidias was making his statue, a period corresponding to the development of Greek civilization, Greek civilization no longer had to live in fear to progress.
There are many different theories and stories about the statue's disappearance. The statue was proudly worshipped for more than nine hundred years, but finally Christianity ended. In 393 AD, Theodsius issued an edict to stop the games, and the ancient Olympic Games ended in that year. Then, in 426 AD, a pagan temple was issued to destroy the order, so the statue of Zeus was destroyed. Some people saide the statue was lost in the fire and some people said the statue was destroyed in an earthquake or tsunami in the 5th CE. In any case, although people can no longer see this statue, it is undeniable that this statue brought a certain influence to the subsequent image of Zeus which “the statue inspired countless imitations and defined the standard representation of Zeus in Greek and Roman art in sculpture, on coins, pottery, and gemstones” (Cartwright).
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