Miraculous Return

Ancient Statue of Zeus Resurrected for Olympics with 3D printing

Statue of Zeus

Over 1,500 years ago, the legendary Statue of Zeus is destroyed in a great fire. In 2016, it’s revived with 3D modeling and 3D printing.

A 3D printed statue of Zeus is the centerpiece of a new exhibition to celebrate the Olympic Games in Rio. Significantly, it’s a recreation of an ancient statue destroyed over a thousand years ago. The project is a collaboration between 3DPTree and Stratasys for the Millennium Gate Museum in Atlanta, Georgia. 

The original Statue of Zeus at Olympia is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The sculptor Phidias built it around 435 BC, and the 13 meter tall statue stood firm for 850 years.

But the statue is seized and taken to Constantinople in 420 AD, a prized addition to the collection of the Imperial Chamberlain Lausus. Several decades later, a fire destroyed the statue — along with the Palace of Lausus and much of Constantinople — in 475 AD.

How was the Statue of Zeus Reconstructed?

After the statue’s destruction, no replica is known to have survived. Instead, specialists at 3DPTree reconstructed the statue based on depictions on coins, together with descriptions by ancient historians.

Millennium Gate Museum director Jeremy Kobus explains to CNET: “The biggest challenge was the statue no longer existed. 3DPTree and museum curators teamed to conduct extensive research on how it would have looked, and later recreated it digitally.”

The resulting digital model is then fabricated in thermoplastics using a Stratasys Fortus 900mc 3D printer. The final statue is 1.8 metres tall —  a fraction of the original height — but still grand enough to impress visitors to the exhibition!

“The process used was FDM — or fused deposition modeling. Materials were deposited in a very precise manner and at a specific speed — then cooled at target temperatures,” said Stratasys’s Jesse Roitenberg. “These controlled elements lead to very high quality 3D printed parts. With finishing techniques, the final product looks very close to the original.”

If you’d like to see the new Statue of  Zeus in person, “The Games: Ancient Olympia to Atlanta to Rio” exhibition will be open in Atlanta from 20 August.

“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,” Kobus said. “That’s why we’re so heavily invested in the artistic value of 3D printing.” Sounds good to us.

(Source: Millenium Gate Museum)

statue of zeus