Columns were an architectural invention enabling the support of ceilings without the use of solid walls. They increased space, allowed the entrance of light and offered an alternative elegance to buildings.
Precise mathematical calculations were used to determine the height, width and other characteristics of these architectural elements. Blocks of marble and limestone held in place by bronze or iron pins make a flexible system that still withstands earthquakes.
To make columns look perfectly straight, they were bowed slightly outward to compensate for the optical illusion that makes vertical lines look curved from a distance. The marble surfaces were smooth, curved, fluted, or ornately sculpted to reflect the sun, cast graded shadows and change in colour with the ever-changing light of day.
Ancient Greek architecture was to have profound effect on Western building conception of later periods. Around the world today, Greek-inspired designs can be seen in monuments, government buildings and private houses having borrowed ideas from some of Greece’s most famous landmarks.
Ancient Greek columns have been classified within three architectural orders – Doric, lonic, and Corinthian. The orders differ in the shapes of the columns and decoration of the capital.