three distinctive, carefully proportioned styles of columns\u2014the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders. The Doric column, first used in the 7th century bc, has no base, and the heavy shaft is tapered upward to the capital. The surface of the shaft, which has a slight convex curve, is indented with shallow, vertical channelings or flutings, features also found in the Ionic and Corinthian orders. The Doric capital consists mainly of an undecorated, square slab resting on a rounded disc of stone that tapers down to the top of the shaft.
In the 6th century bc the Ionic order was
introduced into Greece from Asia. The Ionic
column, which is more tapered than the Doric,
rises from a richly molded circular base. The
capital is distinguished by projecting stone
spirals known as volutes.
In the 4th century bc the Corinthian order was introduced as a variant of the Ionic. The Corinthian shaft is slender, and the capital is carved in the shape of an inverted bell, ornately decorated with volutes and acanthus leaves.
The Romans added two types of columns to the classical orders, the Tuscan, an unfluted modification of the Doric, and the Composite, which had the Ionic shaft and a more ornate Corinthian capital. A single pillar, such as Trajan's Column, in Rome, was sometimes erected to commemorate an event or to honor a
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