What will they come up next, you’ll ask. Yet the theory is not as crazy as it may seem.
[Reconstruction of the statue of Zeus at the Hermitage Museum, Credit: George Shuklin/WikiCommons]
Descriptions from antiquity give us details about the eyes and the hair of the 12-meters-high statue of Zeus that occupied the temple at
after Phidias completed it in 432 BC. We know that the statue was an acrolith, i.e. a wooden frame covered with ivory and gold (see also my earlier blog: The ladies of Morgantina), but its beauty and uniqueness made it one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.
has no windows and the door was not of exceptional size but still, people were able to describe Zeus’ looks. There must have been a trick, right? Temple of Olympia
In a recent study, a team of researchers has concentrated on the marble roof of the temple testing the translucency of different types of marble. It turns out that slabs of 2.8 to
3 cm thick Pentelic marble, the kind found in the mountains behind Athens, let through more light than marble from Paros and probably just enough to discover Zeus’ features once the visitor’s eyesight became accustomed to the darkness inside the temple. Special light meters and a spectrophotometer have revealed a high transparency level in the yellow-red of the spectrum, meaning that the thin slabs of Pentelic marble were capable of illuminating objects made of ivory and gold. In a natural way, the roof could have let enough light through to discern the face (especially the eyes) and the head of this tall Zeus.
An additional argument to support this theory of using Pentelic marble may be found in the fact that the Greeks replaced the original
Paros marble plates of the temple by plates of Pentelic marble – a coincidence or a preference for cheaper construction material, we’ll never know for nothing has remained of the great sculpture. After the temple of Olympia was destroyed by repetitive earthquakes, the statue was moved to Constantinople (now ) where it went up in flames in 475 AD. Istanbul