The Statue of Zeus Has Been Resurrected Via 3D Printing

In collaboration with the Millennium Gate Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, Stratasys Ltd has resurrected one of the long-lost Seven Wonders of the World. In order to honour the 20th anniversary of the Atlanta Centennial Olympic Games, a “near-exact” 3D-printed scale plastic replica of the Statue of Zeus has been revealed at Olympia which has been made by the Eden Prairie, a Minnesota-based additive manufacturing company.

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The Statue of Zeus at Olympia, as history and crossword fans know, was an enormous model of the Greek god seated on a richly carved cedar throne inlaid with ebony, ivory, gold, and precious stones. It was designed and built in 432 BCE under the supervision of the sculptor Phidias, the Athenian artist and architect also responsible for the Parthenon.

As it goes without saying, the modern restoration varies a little as compared to the original. The first one was made of gold and ivory set over a wooden frame rather than plastic. Also, the original was 43 ft (13 m) tall as opposed to 6 ft (183 cm). 12 years were spent on the construction of the original and it was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the World which also includes the Great Pyramid of Giza (which is the only Wonder which is still comparatively intact), the Colossus of Rhodes and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

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As per the statement of the Suetonius, a Roman author, the mad Roman emperor Caligula gave orders to pull the statue apart and to be moved to Rome, but it “suddenly uttered such a peal of laughter that the scaffolding collapsed and the workmen took to their heels.” This was viewed as an omen of Caligula’s imminent assassination in CE 41. Nonetheless, the destiny of the Statue of Zeus is still vague. Either it was moved to Constantinople, where it was destroyed in the great fire of the Palace of Lausus in CE 475, or it burned down in CE 425 when the temple in Olympia caught fire.

By means of a Stratasys Fortus 900mc Production 3D Printer, which is up to 3x faster than conventional 3D processes and offers a smoother and more realistic final product with more detail as per the company, the replica was created by Stratasys in association with the 3D Center at Kennesaw State University (KSU). Fused Deposition Modeling, which encompasses depositing molten engineering-grade thermoplastics via a CAD guide, is employed by the Fortus 900mc. Theoretically, the thermoplastic is dimensionally stable and durable and is capable of holding the paint needed to give the replica the necessary ivory and gold finish.

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As to the accuracy of the replica, the only contemporary descriptions of the Statue of Zeus are brief ones from travellers and crude images on the back of coins, so the designers had to rely on later line drawings, which tend to be a bit fanciful. Nevertheless, the Gate Museum perceives the replica to have more impact as compared to a museum exhibit. In addition to this, it is also a source of hope in a modern age which has been marked by shocking cultural vandalism by the likes of ISIS and the Taliban.

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Director of the Gate Museum, Jeremy Kobus explained:

“Throughout history, there are always instances where the most precious works of art get destroyed or broken. In the past, this disappearance meant items were lost forever. That’s why we’re so heavily invested in the artistic value of 3D printing. Committed to working at the intersection of technology and art, we see the tremendous potential of 3D printing for educational applications. Teaming with Stratasys and KSU’s 3D Center, our hope is to deliver creations far too few have even tried to attempt.”

Opening on 20th August, “The Games: Ancient Olympia to Atlanta to Rio” exhibit of the Gate Museum is the place where the replica Statue of Zeus will be the centrepiece.

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Check out the construction of the Statue of Zeus replica in the video below:


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