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3D Printing Recreates the Statue of Zeus at Olympia

Although it may seem like a recent development, cultural terrorism has been part of human history for as long as there have been historical wonders to destroy or deface. Egyptian pharaohs were known for defacing or appropriating the imagery or iconography of previous rules. Nearly every army to ever invade another country has engaged in the vandalism or theft of cultural artifacts.

The Statue of Zeus at Olympia was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. Raised in Olympia, Greece around 435 BCE, the statue was seized by invaders, and transported to Constantinople, where it remained until it was destroyed in the great fire that deleted so much ancient history. Now, the Statue of Zeus will rise again, thanks to the efforts Stratasys, 3DPtree and the Millennium Gate Museum in Atlanta, in honor of the 2016 Olympic Games.

The digital reproduction of the Statue of Zeus at Olympia was the result of copious research. Courtesy of the Millenniim Gate Museum.

The digital reproduction of the Statue of Zeus at Olympia was the result of copious research. Courtesy of the Millenniim Gate Museum.

The initial challenge in creating a reproduction of the statue was the fact that it no longer exists. Unlike similar projects, where at least existing photography offered a place to start, the only accounts of the Statue of Zeus at Olympia came from traveler’s accounts and drawings found in ancient historical documents. Following extensive research, a team comprised of 3DPtree and Millennium Gate Museum was able to generate a digital design they expect is as historically accurate as is possible.

Printing was completed by Stratasys, using the company’s Fortus 900mc additive manufacturing system. While the original statue stood some 43 ft. tall, and was made from ivory, wood, gold and gems, the reproduction is a bit less ambitious. The finished print is about 6 ft. tall, and is constructed entirely of thermoplastic.

Reproductions like the Statue of Zeus offer us a glimpse into history, bringing wonders lost to time or violence to a new audience. The statue will be part of the “The Games: Ancient Olympia to Atlanta to Rio” exhibit at the Millennium Gate Museum, which will open on August 20. Below you’ll find a video about the original statue.

Sources: Millennium Gate Museum, CNET

About John Newman

John Newman is a freelance writer in Northeast Ohio.

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