The research methodology that was applied in this study was essentially an inclusive, extensive and comparative overview of the literature on the subject. Various sources were consulted, which included books and scholarly articles on the column in architectural history. Also included in the literature survey was information and data from online databases and verified websites.
The information gleaned about columns and their historical context was extrapolated and then entered into a free-from database for further analysis. This resulted in an overall survey of the progression and evolution of various forms and types of columns, from the Egyptian column to the present day. A comparative method of analysis was employed in order to ascertain the commonalities as well as the differences between the various types and forms of this architectural structure.
What should also be mentioned is that the focus of the research, and a factor that influenced the selection of resources, was that this study sought to deal with both the functional as well as the aesthetic and decorative significance of the column.
The study was also limited to a certain extent by the fact that space did not allow for an exhaustive and fully comprehensive overview of all the aspects of the history of the column. Therefore, various areas of interest were selected and focused on in this research study,
4. Review of the Literature
There are a wide range of studies, reviews and articles on the history of the column in ancient culture. More significantly, there are also as number of studies, both in print and online, on the comparison between the columns of ancient cultures and those that we find in modern buildings; although this was relatively less than for ancient civilizations. While history and development were the central focus of the literature search, there were many subsidiary issues and aspects that were taken into consideration, such as the perennial aesthetic appeal of this form of architecture,
There are a number of general and foundational works that proved to be a useful resource as background to the present discussion on columns. A good example of this is a History of Western Architecture by David Watkin ( 2005). This book has been critically acclaimed for its scholarly and interesting overview of the history of architecture from Mesopotamia and Egypt to the present day. It was a useful resource for the present topic as it provided a flowing and consecutive overview of the growth and development of the field of architecture. Other works in this category that provide a comprehensive overview of the field and essential background to the present topic of research were World Architecture: An Illustrated History ( 1963) and a History of Architecture.( 1918) by Kimball and Edgell.
General online sources such as the New World Encyclopedia provided a relatively extensive overview of this topic. In particular, the New World Encyclopedia section on the history of columns was comprehensive and provided insight into many details of the development of these columns
There were a comparatively large number of Websites which provided accessible and verified data and information on this subject. A useful website that outlines with the use of text and graphics the columns of Egypt is the Columns of Ancient Egypt by Dunn. This is a relatively comprehensive overview of this topic and provided a wealth of detail and information about the columns,
Among the many scholarly articles and books that were consulted in this research, one that was particularly helpful in terms of the wider considerations between styles of Greek columns was Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art by Hegel, (1998). An extract indicates the depth of the insight that this work provided.
Further differences between the Ionic and the Doric style are to be found in the fact that Ionic columns, unlike the Doric, do not have their shaft rising straight from the sub-structure, but are set up on a pedestal with many mouldings. (Hegel, 1998, p. 676)
An online article that provided some very useful background information into the history of the column was the History of Traditional Columns and the Architectural Column. This article not only provided background with regard to the Egyptian and Greek origins of the column but also to the religious and social factors that influenced the specific form of this architectural structure.
There are a number of articles that deal with the subject in more detail and with regard to the historical development of columns. For example, an article by Chelsey Trisa ( 2005) entitled Ancient Egyptian architecture, explores the use of columns and other architectural forms in relation to the social and cultural context of the Egyptian civilization. However, articles such as the above provide only as brief and cursory glimpse into the architectural richness of this period of history. There are many other more detailed and extensive studies of the area. One study that proved to be useful in this regard was Smith's study entitled Egyptian Architecture as Cultural Expression (1938). This work provides an extensive and in-depth analysis of the cultural aspects that were the formative forces in the development of early Egyptian architecture and the first recognized architectural columns. For example;
The columns in the reception hall of the unfinished tomb 18, instead of being polygonal, are quatrefoil in section, and their capitals represent four closed lotus flowers bound together ( Plate XXX-2 ). The earliest example of this type of capital is found in the V Dynasty at Abusir ( Plate XXXIV-2 ). By the Middle Kingdom this kind of column with the symbolic lotus capital was either imitated from Old Kingdom examples or copied from the contemporary supports used in the houses
(Smith, 1938, p. 111)
An article that provided some very useful in-depth information on Greek as well as Roman architecture and the origins of columns was Architecture of ancient Greece. Among the studies that also provided information on the later and modern development of the column, and particularly its use and application in contemporary buildings, was Architectural Columns - Then and Now by C. Davis. Another interesting work that provided considerable detail about the way in which the column is used in modern architecture and buildings is Modern Uses of Greek Architecture by Nina Kramer,( 2010).
There are many studied that go beyond basic data and information and which explore, discuss and interrogate different views and assumptions about the use and development of the columns. Among these is a very useful article entitled Greek Architecture: Doric, Ionic, or Corinthian? By Deborah K. Dietsch. This article not only provides a fairly extensive overview of the Greek columns but also goes into detail with regard to the typed of columns. This includes clear illustrations and graphics of the various types of columns, with lucid explanation and discussion of the differences between them.
5. Comparative and Developmental Analysis
There are a number of differences as well as correspondences between the function and aesthetics of early columns and the modern versions of the column. For example, early columns were made or constructed of stone, "…some out of a single piece of stone, usually by turning on a lathe-like apparatus. Single-piece columns are among the heaviest stones used in architecture" (Column: New World Encyclopaedia). Modern columns however, "...are constructed out of steel, poured or precast concrete, or brick. They may then be clad in an architectural covering (or veneer), or left bare" (Column: New World Encyclopaedia). This section will explore these correspondences and differences by reviewing some central aspects of the historical development of the column
5.1. Overview of Historical Development
The history of the extensive use of ornamental columns used in part for social and religious purpose can be traced back to ancient Egyptian temples, such as those at Giza, which "… consist of single, enclosed halls with roof slabs supported by columns" ( Trisa, 2005). Trisa (2005) describes these constructions s in more detail. "In the New Kingdom, architects added the pylon, the open courtyard, and the enclosed hypostyle hall to the front of the temple's sanctuary, a style that was standard until the Graeco-Roman period" (Trisa, 2005).
In terms of the history of the column, the most commonly referred to columns are those of Egypt and Greece. These include the following Classical orders or types.
These will be discussed at length in the following sections.
However, while the heritage of the column is often ascribed to the Greek and Roman models, the Egyptians are actually credited with creating the first columns. "Working with stone, the Ancient Egyptians crafted massive columns that had the appearance of bundled reeds in approximately 2600 BC" ( Davis).
One must also bear in mind in dealing with the history of the column and its…