Tag Archives: Parthenon

Living in Threes: Triangles and Triglyphs in Ancient Cultures

Pyramids of Giza
Pyramids of Giza

Few periods of ancient history sum up mathematical precision in quite as dramatic a fashion as Ancient Egypt. Against a rugged landscape of rocky mountains, rolling sand dunes, and the wide emptiness of an endless blue sky, the architects in the Land of the Pharaohs embraced geometric design with a passion by any other civilization.

Pyramids all over the world
Pyramids all over the world

The Pyramids at Giza remain one of the great architectural wonders of the world, and the giant sculpture of the Sphinx is unrivaled example of the Egyptian ability to represent the natural form within a geometric methodology. Equally interested in the mystical power of numerology were the Ancient Greeks.

With their elegant marble temples and fertile landscapes, the Greeks built a civilization of which the number three was an object of passion. Its legacy has continued to live on as a core element of more modern cultural codes and religions, suggesting that three may be more important to the way that we currently view the world than we necessarily realize.

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Greek Columns

Greek Columns

Greek Columns

Three Greek columns; Ionic, Corinthian and Doric made up of the capital, shaft and base. Of the three columns found in Greece, Doric columns are the simplest. They have a capital (the top, or crown) made of a circle topped by a square. The shaft (the tall part of the column) is plain and has 20 sides.

There is no base in the Doric order. The Doric order is very plain, but powerful-looking in its design. Doric, like most Greek styles, works well horizontally on buildings, that’s why it was so good with the long rectangular buildings made by the Greeks. The area above the column, called the frieze [pronounced “freeze”], had simple patterns.

Above the columns are the metopes and triglyphs. The metope [pronounced “met-o-pee”] is a plain, smooth stone section between triglyphs. Sometimes the metopes had statues of heroes or gods on them. The triglyphs are a pattern of 3 vertical lines between the metopes.

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