Greek Refinements: Entablature and Pediment
Built 2,500 years ago on a hilltop in Athens, Greece, the Parthenon could be seen from all over the city. It was built to worship the goddess Athena and to hold the treasures of the city.
The ancient Greeks refined and lengthened the early post and beam construction. The posts became graceful columns. The beam became a rectangle (entablature
) filled with carvings and designs. The construction was able to support a triangular pediment
, which in turn supported a roof.
The Romans copied many Greek designs and added to them. Important additions were the rounded arch and the use of concrete, which opened up space and supported bigger and taller structures.
The Pont du Gard, in Nimes, France, was built by the Romans to carry water from high ground, across distances, to city reservoirs.
Because of the strength of the arch it was possible to span wide distances. For the first time in history bridges and aqueducts (to bring water to important Italian cities) were built.
The invention of the arch led to the creation of the dome and the vaulted ceiling. These self-supporting structures opened up graceful overhead spaces more than ever before.
Dome of the Rock, 688 CE (Jerusalem)
Due to their ability to raise and open spaces without the need for central supporting pillars, domes and vaulted ceilings are used in religious buildings world-wide to inspire awe and spirituality. Each culture has changed and added to these basic forms.
The Taj Mahal in India was built in 1684 by Shah Jahan as a memorial to his wife. Notice the shape of the dome.