The restoration of the temple of Zeus in Olympia is impressive
The restoration of the temple of Zeus in Olympia is underway by the German Archaeological Institute The second phase of the restoration of the temple of Zeus in Olympia has been successfully completed by the German Archaeological Institute.
The temple of Zeus at Olympia housed the large cult statue of Zeus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and is considered a prime example of Doric architecture. Until today, however, the superstructure and dimensions of the ruined temple could only be perceived and understood by experts.
For this reason, the German Archaeological Institute has undertaken in recent years, on the basis of a master plan prepared in 1992, to carry out a series of restoration and partial restoration operations using the original surviving architectural members. Visitors to the site had the opportunity to get an idea of the third dimension of the building as early as 2004, when a column was repositioned. The second phase of the restoration was successfully completed at the end of November 2012. This phase aimed at the most understandable presentation of the area of the western back of the temple to visitors.
For the partial reconstruction of the rear building, it was initially necessary to move 38 architectural members that had remained there from the excavations in the 19th century. Specifically, these are parts of column vertebrae and unidentified fragments that probably belong to inoculated stones for fixing the frieze and which were placed parallel to the southwest road in front of the ancient ruins of the temple, while 12 wall stones were placed in the upper layer (the foundation of the walls) of the west wall of the nave. Only after this arrangement and the closing of the row of stones of the wall was it possible to experience the rear builder as a space.
The uprights of the west pillar that are preserved in good condition were cleaned by the stonemason and conservator F. Beuthan. The missing north corner was restored with titanium reinforcement and the use of cast artificial mix material with a strike finish that was adapted to the ancient surface.
The pillar of the rear builder was free of vegetation and moss, while the use of a thinner mixture of artificial stone closed fine cracks and some deeper holes in order to prevent moisture from penetrating and to prevent the relevant damage from now on.
A large part of the southern lower vertebral column of the posterior was located in place broken into three pieces. These fragments were reconnected with titanium rods and the missing part was filled with artificial titanium reinforcement stone. Finally, the ribs of the column were processed by hand according to the ancient style.
The two capitals of the rear wall located to the west in front of the temple were also cleaned and restored in the same way (but without being completed). In mid-November 2012, the five restored architectural members were installed with the help of a five-axis crane. This procedure required precision handling of centimeters, as the distance of 35 meters in length and 7 meters in height had to be bent for movement.
The lower part of the northern top of the pillar, which weighs about 2 tons, was placed on the preserved western pillar, but in antiquity, however, it was placed 8 m higher.
For those architectural members that cannot be placed in their original position, a gap must be created between the neighboring members according to the specifications of the Directorate for the Restoration of Ancient Monuments. From a technical point of view, this gap was created by the addition of stainless steel inserts made in Greece from chrome-molybdenum alloy (ASTM 316L), with a total height of 15 cm, consisting of an 11 mm tube and a 15 × 15 m base plate for better pressure distribution in the relative soft conical stone. The engineer K. Zampas undertook the adjustment of the dimensions from a static point of view and the calculation of the seismicity of the problems. In order to avoid the great contrast between ancient shell and glossy modern steel, the surfaces of the latter were sandblasted.
The southern lower column of the column, which has now been restored as an architectural member, was placed in its original position. The upper vertebra was placed on it using inserts. This was followed by the installation of the southern capital of the rear building weighing almost 7 tons, which is the best preserved capital of the temple.
Due to the lack of authentic architectural members of the adjacent pillar, the rear capital of the rear pillar was placed directly on the pillar using inserts. In this way the rear wall is now presented again as a space and the two well-preserved and impressive — due to their size alone — capitals can be perceived up close.
The restoration was initially supervised by the researcher-architect of the excavation of the German Archaeological Institute in Ancient Olympia K.Herrmann and since May 2010 the researcher-architect of the Athens Branch of GAI N. Hellner.
The program of these interventions started after the relevant approval of the Central Archaeological Council (KAS) in May 2011 and was funded with the kind sponsorship of the AG Foundation. Leventis.