Workshop of Phidias (5th century BC), creator of the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, one of the 7 wonders of the world

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Outside the Altis there is a building called the workshop of Pheidias, where he wrought the image of Zeus piece by piece. In the building is an altar to all the gods in common."
Pausanias, Description of Greece (V.15.1)

"On the other hand, Phidias is regarded as more gifted in his representation of gods station of men, and indeed for chryselephantine statues he is without a peer, as he would in truth be, even if he had produced nothing in this material beyond his Minerva at Athens and his Jupiter at Olympia in Elis, whose beauty is such that it is said to have added something even to the awe with which the god was already regarded: so perfectly did the majesty of the work give the impression of godhead."
Quintillian, Institutio Oratoria (XII.10.9)


Phidias or Pheidias was a Greek sculptor, painter and architect. His statue of Zeus at Olympia was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Phidias also designed the statues of the goddess Athena on the Athenian Acropolis, namely the Athena Parthenos inside the Parthenon, and the Athena Promachos, a colossal bronze statue of Athena which stood between it and the Propylaea, a monumental gateway that served as the entrance to the Acropolis in Athens.

Directly west of the Temple of Zeus there was the workshop where Pheidias crafted the chryselephantine statue of Zeus, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. The rectangular workshop was built of shell-limestone and had the same dimensions as the cella of the Temple of Zeus, which allowed the artist better to judge the appearance of the statue in its setting. It was revetted with gold, ivory, and glass plaques over a wooden core and likely was transported in pieces and then assembled inside the Temple of Zeus, where the god is depicted as seated on a gold throne decorated with mythological scenes. The face and undraped parts of the body were of ivory, while the gold robe was adorned with glass flowers and semi-precious stones. The circumstances of the statue's eventual destruction are unknown. The 11th-century Byzantine historian Georgios Kedrenos records a tradition that it was carried off to Constantinople, where it was destroyed in the great fire of the Lauseion, in AD 475.


Sometime between AD 435-451, an early Christian basilica was erected over the ruined foundation of the building. It had two colonnades, which divided the interior into three naves, and an apsidal sanctuary at the east end. One still can see the low marble chancel screen. The basilica was destroyed by the earthquake of AD 551.


Phidias is also known for the The Golden Ratio represented by the Greek letter (phi), he is said to have employed it. The Golden Ratio is an irrational number approximating 1.6180 which has special mathematical properties.



So-called “Rondanini Medusa”.
Marble, Roman copy after a 5th-century BC Greek original by Phidias,
which was set on the shield of Athena Parthenos.
Ancient Greek inscription containing account of the supervisors
for the construction of the chryselephantine (gold and ivory)
statue of Athena Parthenos in the Parthenon by the sculptor Phidias

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