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Parseh J Archaeol Stud 2018, 2(5): 19-20 Back to browse issues page
Study of the Role of Components Geometry in Persian Stone Columns in Pre-Islamic Era
Nima Valibeig1, Negar Kourangi 2
1- Assistant Professor, Department of Historical Fabric Conservation, Isfahan University of Art.
2- M.A. Candidate Historical Fabric Conservation, Isfahan University of Art. , negar.koorangi@yahoo.com
Abstract:   (8108 Views)
In the history of architecture, one of the elements to transfer the vertical forces in buildings has been columns. They appeared in various forms depending on the nature of forces, architectural styles, available materials and joints applied. Examination of columns may revive and reveal certain parts of the lost knowledge of Persian architecture. Also, such an examination may help to categorize columns in terms of form and structure. The final form of the stone columns in pre-Islamic Iran has been directly influenced by their size and form of the trunk, base as well as capital. In this regard, columns have been often examined only in case studies. The present article, however, has studied the stone columns in pre-Islamic Iran in terms of geometric aspects. Data were mainly gathered based on library sources and field studies. In order to do a systematic classification, the stone columns were photographed. This article aimed to study the impact of form and size on the structure of the stone columns in pre-Islamic Iran. The results implied that the forms of base and shaft in stone columns of ancient Iran were mainly influenced by the vernacular motifs common at the time; bases of the stone columns were in cubic form or in the form of inversed vase. Similarly, the shafts of the columns were in simple, fluted and gadrooning forms. However, formation of the capitals is an adoption of forms found in columns of other civilizations. The forms include floral, zoomorphic a human images. 
Keywords: Geometry in Architecture, Structure of Stone Columns, Persian Monuments.

Architecturally speaking, the formation of columns might be attributed to the idea that a given space was supposed to be extended. Columns transfer the weight load of the roof to the ground. At the same time, some archeologists believe that columns appeared when large flat roofs were built (Firouzmandi, 2008: 29). The oldest columns in Iran date back to the 6th millennium BC. Certain examples of which can be seen in western and North-west archeological sites of the country (Rezaienia, 2008: 329). The existence of columns went on to subsequent eras. However, since some of them were made of wood they did perish and only their stone bases survived (Firouzmandi, 2008: 29). The oldest examples of stone columns can be found in Median catacombs. This trend can also be observed in next eras and even in given monuments which columns played no structural role, columns embedded in walls were used. Geometrically, the stone columns used in pre-Islamic Iran functioned not only as structural element, transferring vertical forces, but also as architectural decorations presenting beautiful images in spaces. Hence, examination of the stone columns may help reveal the ancient architects’ capabilities to transfer forces structurally and to form architectural spaces aesthetically. So, in this study, the following questions are raised: Are any specific geometric proportions between forms and motifs used in column capitals of the pre-Islamic Persian monuments? Which kinds of geometric forms have been used more commonly in Persian column bases? What are the most commonly used geometric forms in the structure of Persian ancient columns?

Research Finding
One of the oldest usages of stone columns can be observed in columned halls in Māni sites. Hassanlou hill is a prime example in this respect. The survived monuments from Median era in which columns have been used can be divided into two groups: The first includes certain columned halls like those existing in archeological sites. The second includes Median catacombs.In terms of functional columns, Median  catacombs can themselves be divided into two groups: The first includes catacombs which have free columns in entering gate. The second group includes catacombs which have half-columns in entering gate. Columns in Achamenid architecture played more important role compared with earlier eras. The column bases appear in different forms including cubic and bell-shaped the latter of which are different from each other in terms of patterns and motifs applied. The trunks are either smooth or fluted. In addition, in Achamenid era, the column capitals appear in a variety of animal forms including bull, lion, horse, griffin and bull-man. The columns built in Seleucid era have been adopted from Roman order. Columns in Arsacid era can be grouped into three classes: Greek order, Persian order and vernacular style. The columns adopted from Greek-style generally appear in three common Greek orders: Corinthian, Doric and Ionic. In addition, the columns adopted from Achamenid style have cubic bases and capitals representing two animal heads in opposite directions. Columns in vernacular style represent square or octagonal trunks with or without patterns. Columns in Sassanid monuments, however, are the continuation of those in Arsacid monuments in form and style. The most commonly used capitals are in the form of truncated pyramid. The upper base of the pyramid is square in form and the lower one is circular decorated with repetitive animal or floral patterns. There are, of course, capitals adopted from Corinthian order. The trunks survived of the Sassanid columns are in simple, fluted or spiral forms with or without relief pat. 

Column capitals in ancient Persian architecture include a variety of forms and decorations. Some of the forms like spiral patterns may play decorative role on the trunks. However, the spiral forms may only appear on capitals. Also, column bases are mainly cubic, bell-shaped or circular in form. Cubic bases are more common which appear in different forms visible in all but eras examined. In terms of form and decorative elements, column capitals in two Achamenid and Arsacid eras are more similar to each other than those in other eras. Other than decorative forms used in the bases, trunks and capitals, geometric patterns have been also used as decorative elements including floral, animal and human ones. Of course, floral forms have been most commonly used. With respect to the trunks, smooth circular trunks have been common in all eras studied. They may appear with or without fluted or spiral forms. Despite the importance of columns in pre-Islamic Persian architecture and their role in forming columned spaces, no comprehensive examination, in terms of geometric classification, has been made in this regard. In this study, the components of Persian stone columns in different pre-Islamic eras were classified geometrically. Other researcher may carry out similar examinations on architectural columns in Islamic era, classify them and determine the similarities and contrast. 
Keywords: Geometry in Architecture, Structure of Stone Columns, Persian Monuments.
Full-Text [PDF 682 kb]   (1953 Downloads)    
Type of Study: Research | Subject: Special Archeology
Received: 2019/02/13 | Accepted: 2019/02/13 | Published: 2019/02/13
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Valibeig N, Kourangi N. Study of the Role of Components Geometry in Persian Stone Columns in Pre-Islamic Era. Parseh J Archaeol Stud. 2018; 2 (5) :19-20
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year 2, Issue 5 (12-2018) Back to browse issues page
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