History, Facts and Information about Roman Columns
The content of this article provides interesting history, facts and information about Roman Columns. The most imposing forms of Roman architecture may be traced to a knowledge of the properties of the arch, and as brick was more extensively used than any other material, the Roman Columns were invaluable. The Romans took the best ideas and building concepts from conquered nations such as the Greeks and these included the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian columns.
Purpose of Ancient Roman Columns
The purpose of Roman columns in structural engineering is to provide a vertical structural element that transmits, through compression, the weight of the structure above to other structural elements below. Roman columns were therefore often used to support beams or arches on which the upper parts of buildings, walls or ceilings rest. Roman Columns enabled the ancient Romans to build vast edifices with the humblest materials, to build bridges, aqueducts, sewers, amphitheatres, and triumphal arches, as well as temples and palaces. The application of Roman Columns extend to domes and cupolas, to floors and corridors and roofs, and to various other parts of buildings where economy of material and labor was desired. It was applied extensively to doorways and windows and is an ornament as well as a utility.
Description of Roman Columns
Columns are vertical, upright pillars. Columns may provide support or simply be purely decorative. The lower portion of a column is called the base or stylobate. The middle section is called the shaft. The upper portion of a column is called the capital. The area which the column supports is called the entablature.
Types of Roman Columns - Doric Columns - Simplest Style of Columns
The Doric order or style of columns are the oldest and simplest of the classical styles. An example of the Doric column can be shown in the image at the top of the page. The oldest and simplest of the three main orders of classical Roman architecture are characterized by heavy fluted columns with plain, saucer-shaped capitals and base. The capital of the Doric column consists of a cushion-like convex molding known as an "echinus" and a square slab called an "abacus." The first level of the arches at the Colosseum are framed by half columns of the Doric order. The Doric style Roman Columns were considered to be able to hold more weight..
Types of Roman Columns - Ionic Style of Columns with Spiral Scrolls
The Ionic order, invented by the Asiatic Greeks is more graceful, though not so imposing as the Doric style. The capital is more ornamented than the Doric. The shaft is fluted and more slender. The Ionic Roman columns are characterized by the capital which is formed with two opposed volutes (spiral scrolls). The second level of the arches at the Colosseum are framed by half columns of the Ionic order.
Types of Roman Columns - Corinthian Columns - Most Decorated Style of Columns
The most ornate of the three main orders of classical Greek architecture. The Corinthian order exhibits a greater refinement and elegance than the other two styles of columns. The Corinthian Roman columns are characterized by slender fluted columns. The capital have an almost bell-shaped capital decorated with acanthus leaves. Corinthian Roman columns were often surmounted by a more ornamented entablature. The third level of the arches at the Colosseum are framed by half columns of the Corinthian order or style.
Roman Columns in the Colosseum
The architecture of the Colosseum is dominated by its sheer size and the height of the different levels of the Colosseum is created by the use of different columns on each of the three main levels. The arches of the Colosseum are framed by half-columns of the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders. The first level is 34 ft high and the Doric arches are 23 ft high and 14 ft wide. The second level, in the Ionic "order" or style, is 38 ft high and the arches measure 21 ft high and 14 ft wide and the third level, in the Corinthian style, is 37 ft high with the arches being 21 ft high and 14 ft wide. The fourth or top level of the Colosseum is 45 ft high and had no arches.
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