October 25, 2017:

Phidias' workshop was identified and excavated in the 1950s; proof of the pudding being a drinking cup inscribed, "I belong to Phidias", now in the museum.

This is where Phidias created one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: the ginormous gold-and-ivory statue of seated Zeus which dominated the nearby temple. This clever statue is said to have burst out laughing when Caligula ordered Zeus' head replaced by his own: I like it already.

Tools, moulds, ivory chips, the odd precious stone: and Phidias' cup. The real deal. You stand here shaking your head, because, this really happened.

Except, let's say it out loud, Phidias didn't actually make the thing. He directed its making. A small army of skilled artisan slaves did the work.

Slaves built the Parthenon, slaves dug the silver which funded the Delian League, slaves tilled the fields which fed everyone else. Slaves made the statues and the vases and the columns and the caryatids which we today consider such exemplars of proportion and elegance. Slavery was the source of the surplus value which made the Athenian leisure class possible, and with it the democracy. The society with its artistic and cultural and scientific achievements existed because slavery enabled it.