Conference announcement: The Statue of Zeus at Olympia, July 3-4 2008

Links now available at: - look under 'News' on the right-hand side of the page

OR: - with further links listed there

Dates: 3-4 July 2008 (Thurs.-Fri.)

Venue: University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Brisbane. Queensland. 4072. Australia.

Organizers (please contact one of the organizers if you have any questions which are not addressed here or on the above web links):

Tom Stevenson (t.stevenson AT
Janette McWilliam (j.mcwilliam AT
Sonia Puttock (s.puttock AT
John Whitehorne (j.whitehorne AT

Length of Papers: 30 minutes + 10 minutes for questions (40 minutes total)

Offers of Papers / Abstracts: We would like to receive offers of papers as soon as possible. Please submit abstracts (max. 100 words) to Tom Stevenson (t.stevenson AT by 1 May 2008.

Audio-Visual Requirements:

For those who are offering papers, please submit a detailed list of your audio-visual requirements to Tom Stevenson (t.stevenson AT by 1 May 2008. The registration form may be used for this purpose.

Travel and Accommodation:

We are asking delegates to organize their own travel and accommodation for the duration of the conference, though we would like to help in any way possible. Please see the accompanying files for information on travel and accommodation, and please don’t hesitate to contact one of the organizers for assistance.

Conference Fee, Lunches, Welcome Reception, and Conference Dinner:

Please see the conference registration form for costs and payment details. The conference fee will cover your conference packs, room hire, morning and afternoon teas, and the welcome reception. Lunch can be purchased from a number of places on the UQ Campus, especially Darwin’s Cafe on the ground floor of the Biological Sciences Library off Chancellor’s Place, Wordsmith’s Cafe in Staff House Road next to the UQ Bookshop, and the UQ Staff Club in Staff House Road.

A welcome reception will be held in the evening of Wednesday 2 July at the R.D. Milns Antiquities Museum, which is located on Floor 3 of the Michie Building (= Building no. 9 on your maps).

The conference dinner (Thurs. 3 July) will be held at AMPHORA Restaurant, 36 Hawken Drive, St. Lucia. QLD. 4067. Ph.: +61-7-3870 0788. For information about AMPHORA and some reviews, see OR

Aims of the Conference

i) to produce the first comprehensive treatment of the Zeus in over fifty years
ii) to extend the analysis beyond matters related to style and the framework provided by the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
iii) to contemplate the Zeus as a product of religious thought before artistic endeavour
iv) to combine the talents of art historians, archaeologists, historians and literary scholars
v) to employ perspectives from Classical and Hellenistic Greece, Imperial Rome, and the Byzantine, Renaissance and Modern Periods
vi) to contemplate the place of the Zeus in the cultural imagination of the ancients; to what degree was it an outstanding example of Greek culture? who judged it to be so? how did it compare to other examples of cultural output in the ancient world?

Suggested Topics (by no means exhaustive or prescriptive)

1. The importance of Zeus, Olympia, the Olympic Games. Elis and Pisa, the temple of Zeus.

2. The commission of the statue, the expectation, the resources. Why choose Pheidias? Other contenders.

3. Planning, construction and appearance. Why a seated statue? Construction techniques, Pheidias’ team (?), Pheidias’ workshop.

4. Pheidias’ style. Influence of the Zeus on later statues, the tradition of seated statues of Zeus and others, including Roman emperors.

5. Reactions to the statue in antiquity: Greek and Roman writers. A religious symbol, a cultural symbol, an incarnation? Religious thought.

6. Care and maintenance of the statue in antiquity. The use of water and olive oil on chryselephantine statues. The ‘shiners’ (Phaidryntai), temple guards, priests. Deterioration, repairs. Ivory and wood, sources, unique features.

7. Later history in antiquity. The question of transportation to Constantinople. Was this feasible? Likely? How would it have been done? Dismantling the Zeus. The transportation of large statues in stone is one thing, but the transportation of a chryselephantine giant?

8. The Zeus in Constantinople. The collection of ‘Lausos’, destruction by fire. Byzantine aims in populating the New Rome with statues. Political and religious considerations. Location, display conditions. Was the Zeus transported?

9. Renaissance and modern interest in the Zeus. Paintings, reconstructions, monuments (e.g. the Lincoln Memorial).

10. The Zeus of Olympia and Cultural Imagination, Ancient and Modern. Mental frameworks, ways of conceptualizing gods and powers. Religion and art.