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Fluted columns from the Forum in Rome

Fluted columns from the Forum in Rome

Most Greek and Roman columns (but not all) were fluted. That means they had narrow channels running up and down them.

The Greeks probably started this idea because their earliest columns were made out of wooden tree trunks. When the builders shaved the bark off the trunks it left these vertical gouges. When the Greeks began to build stone temples, they copied the gouges from the wood because it made the columns look skinnier and taller and more elegant.

Fluting the columns, one flute after another, also gave the columns and the whole building more of a feeling of rhythm. Architects working in ancient Greece thought that rhythm was an important aspect of a temple.

Doric columns usually had 20 flutes, while Ionic columns usually had 24 flutes. Some flutes come to points between the flutes, while others have a flat top to each crest.

Learn by doing: build a Greek temple out of Lego, or on Minecraft
More about rhythm and Greek temples

Bibliography and further reading about Greek architectural orders:

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