History Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for historians and history buffs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

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.

share|improve this question
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 Jun 22 '13 at 8:35
What do you mean by buckle? – Ovi Jun 22 '13 at 8:37
Bend, curve, bulge. – Yannis 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
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.

share|improve this answer
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
@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 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 Jun 24 '13 at 5:29

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.