Ancient Greek Statue Reconstructed at Sicily’s Valley of the Temples

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7.7 Meter Telamon Statue Resurrected in Agrigento’s Archaeological Marvel

A monumental statue that once adorned the ancient Greek Temple of Olympian Zeus has been unveiled to the public for the first time in the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Sicily, on Thursday. The statue, standing at an impressive height of 7.7 meters (approximately 25 feet), is a telamon, a male figure used architecturally in the same way as a column or pillar. This significant reconstruction marks a pivotal moment in the preservation and celebration of ancient Greek art and architecture in Sicily.

sicily

Originally, the Temple of Olympian Zeus was adorned with several dozens of such statues, all of which were destroyed and fragmented over time. A previous reconstruction of one of these statues had been preserved in a local museum; now, using partly original blocks, another telamon has been reconstructed and erected on a steel structure just outside the temple ruins.

Telamons, the male counterparts to the more commonly known caryatids (sometimes also referred to as atlantes), are a distinctive feature of the Temple of Zeus, which unlike its neighboring temples lies in complete ruins. It is estimated that there were originally 38 of these statues, each standing at about 7.7 meters tall, making them among the largest statues in all of ancient Greek art.

The presence of these statues was first identified in the 19th century by English architect Charles R. Cockerell, with further discoveries made during excavation campaigns in the 1920s. The telamon presented this week was assembled from pieces found during investigations conducted by the German Archaeological Institute in Rome starting in 2004.

The Temple of Olympian Zeus was commissioned around 480 BC to commemorate a military victory but was never completed due to a subsequent defeat about 70 years later. Located in the Valley of the Temples, a monumental complex that was part of the ancient city of Akragas, next to modern-day Agrigento, the site includes the ruins of seven temples and is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Over the centuries, the temple was damaged by several earthquakes, and in the 18th century, stones from the ruins were even used for new buildings in Agrigento and Porto Empedocle.

At the time of the temple’s construction, Sicily was fully integrated into the Greek cultural sphere, heavily influenced by Greek cultural and architectural traditions. The Temple of Zeus is considered one of the largest Doric temples ever constructed. The Doric order, the same style used for the Parthenon among others, is the oldest of the three classical orders of ancient Greek architecture, characterized by sturdy and imposing structures.

Source: Il Post

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