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.

  • 8
    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
    Commented Jun 22, 2013 at 8:35
  • What do you mean by buckle?
    – Ovi
    Commented Jun 22, 2013 at 8:37
  • Bend, curve, bulge.
    – yannis
    Commented Jun 22, 2013 at 8:40
  • 2
    @ovi - buckling is a technical term for how tubes fail under compression. ie. what happens when you squash a beer can
    – none
    Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 0:44
  • @yannis One advantage could be materials savings. Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 2:32

2 Answers 2


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.

  • 1
    Note that all (or most) of them have a hole through the center, which could be the source of the confusion.
    – Luke_0
    Commented Jun 22, 2013 at 18:48
  • 4
    @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
    Commented Jun 22, 2013 at 21:26
  • 5
    @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
    Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 5:26
  • @jwenting That's true, "glue" was a very poor word choice there.
    – yannis
    Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 5:29

I have read that they used lead pins to hold the sections together. The lead is no longer there because it was scavenged during modern times. Much of this took place during the Turkish occupation of Greece. The Turks took the lead to make bullets. Not sure if this is 100% accurate, I can't remember where I read this but I do remember reading or hearing about it somewhere.


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