Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Column...Magic?

Even before the dawn of the Old Kingdom( I know, I was a loooong time ago), Egyptian architects were using columns to hold up the roof and span large spaces. They were the first builders to try this. How could you come up with an idea like that? Hmmmm. Lets use big poles in the middle of this beautiful room to keep the ceiling from killing us. Yes. Its a crazy idea, but it seemed to work very well. Ancient Egyptians made their columns out of palm tree trunks and bound bundles of large branches and logs to use to support the reed and rush roofs of their dwellings. When they did decide to use stone and brick to make columns, they were carefully constructed to mimic the shapes and textures of the organic models.

Do you believe in magic? Yes, no, maybe? The earliest builders believed that trees held up rooves with magical powers. This is why when using stone, they carefully carved it to look like the original. By the fifth dynasty, Egyptians were building graceful, elaborate limestone columns complete with crowns of palm foliage. After Greek travelers came to Egypt, the columns made their way into Greek architecture as well. They were somewhat transformed from the inscribed, decorated, colorfully painted, topped with stone flowers and foliage to something that worked a little bit better for them.

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