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I remember learning in elementary school that at some point in their history, the Greeks were building hollow columns to support their building, because they thought that hollow columns would provide more strength, just like wheat is hollow on the inside and very strong. Is this really true? Thanks.

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Every broken column I've seen was solid. Hollow columns wouldn't make much sense, their only benefit would be if the columns were expected to buckle. –  Yannis Rizos Jun 22 '13 at 8:35
    
What do you mean by buckle? –  Ovi Jun 22 '13 at 8:37
    
Bend, curve, bulge. –  Yannis Rizos Jun 22 '13 at 8:40
    
@ovi - buckling is a technical term for how tubes fail under compression. ie. what happens when you squash a beer can –  none Aug 30 '13 at 0:44
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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Here's a picture of the fallen columns at Olympia:

enter image description here

Here's one from Ephesus: enter image description here

Those puppies look pretty solid to me.

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Note that all (or most) of them have a hole through the center, which could be the source of the confusion. –  American Luke Jun 22 '13 at 18:48
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@Luke That hole is only a few cm deep, it doesn't go all the way through. It's where the glue that kept the pieces together went, the first picture shows this a lot better than I could explain it (the pieces in the middle aren't broken per se, they just aren't glued to each other any more). –  Yannis Rizos Jun 22 '13 at 21:26
    
@YannisRizos not glue, pen and hole construction. A wooden or metal pin was driven into one hole, then used as a guide to align the next segment. Gravity was the main force preventing the things from collapsing. –  jwenting Jun 24 '13 at 5:26
    
@jwenting That's true, "glue" was a very poor word choice there. –  Yannis Rizos Jun 24 '13 at 5:29
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