The successful rebuilding of the Temple of Zeus

The successful rebuilding of the Temple of Zeus

The Temple of Olympian Zeus in Olympia (470-456 BC) is considered the most representative example of Doric architecture, and in its day it housed between its columns the Statue of Zeus, a chrysoelephantine sculpture (made of gold and marble) made by the famous Phidias in 436 BC, and which is one of the seven Wonders of the ancient world.

Until now, only experts could distinguish the original construction and dimensions of the ruined temple. That is why in recent years the German Archaeological Institute, following a master plan developed in 1992, has carried out numerous conservation and reconstruction projects using the same archaeological materials that are still preserved.

K. Hermann, architect at the DAI excavation at the ancient Olympia, was the one who initially supervised the restoration project, although since May 2010, the researcher and architect of the Department of DAI Athens, N. Hellner, has been in charge of it.

The first phase of the conservation work achieved that in 2004, the visitors of this beautiful temple had the opportunity to get an idea of ​​the third dimension of the construction, when placing a column back to its original position.

For now, the second phase of restoration It has been successfully completed at the end of November 2012. The objective of this stage has been to present the area of ​​the western opistodomes (distinctive spaces located on the upper parts of Greek temples) to tourists, in a more comprehensive way.

For the partial reconstruction of the opisthdomes, 38 architectural structures had to be removed, despite having been found there since excavations in the 19th century. For the most part, they were fragments of the column drums (pieces of the shaft of a column) and other pieces of the temple that have not been identified.

But only after having correctly arranged the stones in a row on the wall, it has been possible to obtain a spatial aspect of the opistodoms.

Stylobate (continuous massifs where the columns that support the building are supported) of the opisthdomes were weed cleaned, and a mixture of fine artificial stones is being used to fill small cracks and some deep holes, in order to avoid the penetration of additional moisture and the damage that may occur from now on .

During last November, the five architectural structures that had been restored (the drums, capitals, etc.) were placed with the help of a five-axle crane that covered a distance of 35 meters in length and 7 meters in height for transport.

Also, according to the guideline of the Directorate for the Restoration of Ancient Monuments, it is necessary to use spacersin this case they have been made of stainless steel and 15 centimeters high) between the constructions that cannot occupy their original position, and their neighboring structures. These arrangements have meant that now the opistodomes of the temple are presented as well-preserved spaces and that it is impressive to see it up close.

Video: Olympia 7 - The Temple of Zeus