He was apparently the first choice of every polis when it came to commemorating important victories and erecting politically significant monuments, as his signature carried the promise of Panhellenic recognition. His great talent is further confirmed by the Athenians' prosecutions against him, in the typical Athenian fashion of demonising extraordinary people. After proving his innocence for allegedly stealing gold from the supplies for the statue of Athena, he was finally charged with impiety for depicting himself and his intimate friend Pericles on Athena's shield. According to one version, he died in prison; according to another, he fled to Olympia to work on his masterpiece, the statue of Zeus.
The dimensions of the workshop were almost the same as those of the inner chamber (the cella) at the Temple of Zeus, to accommodate the statue during its manufacture. Two rows of columns separated the space into three rectangular naves; the central one, which was also the widest, housed the statue. The gigantic structure was probably disassembled before it was taken to the Temple, then reassembled and placed at its permanent position, where it would remain for eight centuries. Its wooden core was the canvas on which the pieces of ivory, as well as the gold leaf, glass flowers and semi-precious stones of the garments and accessories were attached.
Those components must have been crafted at the main, south wing of the workshop, as indicated by archaeological evidence. The most important of numerous finds include clay moulds for the gilded garment folds, ivory and semi-precious stones, while the highlight is a small black-painted wine jug, bearing the inscription "I belong to Pheidias" in Greek.
As it happened with many ancient buildings, a church an Early Christian basilica was built on top of the workshop's foundation; to an extent, the ruins of the church were removed during the excavations to allow access to more ancient levels of the building.