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What materials were used to build the Parthenon?

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Quick Answer

The Parthenon of Ancient Athens was made of hand-carved pentelic marble from top to bottom, with some timber to support the slanted marble tiles of the roof. The segments of the columns were internally secured by iron clamps with a layer of molten lead. The statue of Athena Parthenos inside the Parthenon had ivory skin and nearly 2,400 pounds of gold armor, weapons and jewelry.

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Full Answer

The Parthenon's marble came from Mount Pentelicus, about 11 miles away, and totaled approximately 100,000 tons. The completely marble base was over 23,000 square feet with 46 outer columns wrapped around it, each 34 feet high. The key to the structural longevity of the Parthenon was the use of molten lead to cover the inside of each column section and the iron clamps within. The lead prevented the iron from corroding and breaking the marble, while also acting as an invisible cushion between each section to absorb shocks from earthquakes.

An Athenian named Pheidias was the general overseer of the Periclean building program. Although he did not build or design the Parthenon, he did create the impressive chryselephantine, made from gold and ivory, statue of Athena Parthenos. It was housed in the larger section of the cella, the small enclosure between the columns. In Athena's outstretched right hand, Nike, the goddess of victory, alighted. Athena's skin was made entirely from ivory, while every other part of her was molded and sculpted from gold.

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