The controversy over the Telamon of Agrigento, the reconstruction of the statue that adorned the temple of Zeus

After twenty years of studies, the church was erected in Agrigento reconstruction of one of the greats Telamones That 2500 years ago they adorned the Temple of Olympian Zeus of the ancient Akragasthat is, one sculpture approximately tall 8 meters which served as architectural support element. The decision to rebuild the enormous statue depends largely on the fact that Agrigento It will be there Italian capital of culture In the 2025: in view of the prestigious designation, the Valley of the Temples Archaeological Park he got busy. On the other hand, the way in which the reconstruction was carried out and the context in which it was placed have divided the experts, who defined it as “Frankenstein” because it was reconstructed from other sculptures.

The Telamones of Akragas

Ancient Akragas, the ancestor of today’s Agrigento, was one of the most important and richest Greek cities in ancient Sicily. To testify to the very high level of development of the city, there is still the Valley of the Templesone of the best known and most visited archaeological parks in Italy.

During the 5th century BC. C.the period of greater splendor of the city, to commemorate the victory over the Carthaginians in battle of Himera in 480 BCthe people of Agrigento began to build a temple in honor of Olympian Zeusdestined to be the bigger among all those of the Western Greeks. Despite the project’s expectations, the temple was not completed, and over the centuries it fell into disrepair.

One of the architectural elements that characterized the building were i Telamonesthat is, of male statues with raised arms which served as elements of supportalthough in reality those of Agrigento were probably only built in decorative purpose. They were almost tall 8 meters and during archaeological excavations in the Valley of the Temples, carried out in the 1920s, many fragments of these statues were found.

Reproduction of the statue

Following the research of theGerman Archaeological Institute of Romehave been identified and studied in recent years more than 90 fragments which they have been recognized as belonging to 8 different Telamones of the temple. The Telamon that was erected in the archaeological park was made precisely starting from these fragmentscomposing a reconstruction starting from several original pieces, supported by a tall steel plate 12 meters.

The sculpture was unveiled on February 29 in the presence of the president of Sicily Renato Schifani, the councilor for cultural heritage Francesco Paolo Scarpinato, the director of the park Roberto Sciarratta, the mayor of Agrigento Francesco Micciché, the prefect of Agrigento Filippo Romano, and the curators of the project Carmelo Bennardo, and Alessandro Pug. The work was deemed “one of the best business cards of Agrigento Capital of Culture 2025″ in the words of the director Roberto Sciarratta.

Criticisms of the project

The choice to rebuild one of the Telamones starting from pieces of eight other sculptures has not been free from criticism from the world of specialists in museology and archaeology. The Telamon has been nicknamed “Frankenstein” and became the target of controversies and memes.

From the point of view of archaeological reconstruction, according to the detractors, this type of re-proposal, decontextualized and solely aimed at spectacularizationwould offer a non-real vision and distorteddevoid of any contact with the visitor that goes beyond a simple glance.

Those who support the choice believe that it is one unique possibility to do shine the spotlight on the Sicilian archaeological park. On the other hand, a Telamon almost completely intact and reconstructed is displayed inside the Archaeological Museum of Agrigentowhich however not everyone visits.