Ancient Greek Temple of Zeus

The ancient Greek temple dedicated to Zeus was constructed at Olympia in the sacred sanctuary of Altis. Zeus was the king of all gods in ancient Greece. He lived on Mt. Olympus and was also the god of thunder and sky.

In ancient Greece, Olympics were held every 4 years for athletes. The athletes used to travel Mount Olympus to take part in the games. During this period, the wars would stop and the kings of different territories would call a truce to allow safe passage to the athletes. The Olympics were dedicated to Zeus, and were held at the temple in a stadium under a statue of Zeus.

In the initial stages of the stadium was simple and makeshift. However, soon the ancient Greeks wanted something grander and more majestic. This was to show their reverence to the king of all gods. So, the started building a bigger and more magnificent temple in 470 AD. The architect of the temple was Libon, who was Elis.

It is believed that many ideas for the temple were taken from the Parthenon and the temple of Artemis, which was located at Ephesus. The temple was built on a raised platform that was rectangular in shape. It had a huge roof that was supported with the help of 13 carved pillars on the long sides of the rectangle and 6 pillars on the shorter sides. The roof had an incline, and the pillars were carved to show the 12 tasks performed by Hercules.

The ancient Greek temple of Zeus was constructed in the Doric style architecture which was prevalent during those times. Limestones from the local quarry were used for the construction, but the appearance was dull and not very attractive. So, the outer part of the temple was covered with Scutto. The sculptures housed in the temple were made using Parian marble and the inner sanctum housed a 40-foot statue of Zeus. The statue was shown sitting on a golden throne.

Although in the subsequent years, the temple was ruined due to floods and wars, the temple and its magnificent beauty remained etched in people’s mind and the description was passed down from one generation to another. The magnificent statue of Zeus was destroyed in 462 AD due to a fire.

The ruins of the temple were discovered in 1829 AD by French archaeologists and it took 5 whole years to excavate. The task was further taken up a team of German archaeologists in 1875 AD.

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