What is Capital in Architecture?

In architecture, capital is the highest member of a column. The capital comes from the Latin word caput meaning head. It is located between a column and the force that carries the load on a column. Capital helps to expand and improve the support surface of a column. There are different capital designs such as convex, concave and sliding design. The capital occupies a highly visible position in buildings. Thanks to its great visibility, capital serves as an ornament. It is the clearest indication of an architectural order. The details and design of the capital can help indicate the date of a building. Some of the ancient capitals include:

Pre-classical capitals

The ancient Egyptian capitals fall under the pre-classical capitals. Usually, Egyptian capitals were made using papyrus and lotus plants. Palm trees have also produced great capitals. In the first-third century BC, other river plants were also useful for creating capital. During this period, the traditional lotus capital also underwent some improvements.

Still under the pre-classical capitals, it is the Achaemenid Persian capital. Its stirrups bear the shapes of a griffin, a bull or a lion. The brackets have heavy decorations and project right and left to offer ample support to the architrave. The decorations under the capitals recall the art of the many cultures conquered by the Persian empire. Some of these cultures include Babylon, Egypt and Lydia. The decorations do not satisfy any architectural purpose but enhance the beauty of a building. Other pre-classical capitals include the Aegean capital (1600 BCE) in the frescoes of Knossos and the capitals found in the tomb of Agamemnon. The tomb is located in Mycenae and the capitals date back to 1100 BCE.

Classic capitals

Classic capitals are available in different classical orders. These include the Doric capital, the Ionian capital, the Corinthian capital and the capital Anta. Of all the classical capital orders, the Doric capital is the simplest. This capital plan was adopted in 700 ECB in the construction of the Temple of Apollo in Syracuse, Italy. The design of the Ionic capital was used in Ephesus (560 BCE) while building the temple of Artemis. Under this design, spiral spirals are found between the ovolo and the abacus. The Ionic capital was also used much later in the temple of Athena Polias nell’19 th century.

The Corinthian capital is reminiscent of leaves carved in two bands. Looks like a leafy cup inserted into another. The capital of Tholos of Epidaurus built in 400 BCE is one of the most beautiful Corinthian capitals. Anta Capital, unlike the other capitals, is not placed on a column. Instead, it is located above the door. Anta refers to a structural pole joined to the front end of a wall. Usually, the upper edge of a door has intense decorations. The sides of a capital door can expand upwards giving it the shape of a sofa. For this reason, capital capitals also go forward.

Indo-Corinthian capitals

These are capitals with a strong Persian and Greek influence. The capitals have their roots in north-eastern India, in the palaces of the Maurya Empire. They are among the most beautiful Corinthian capitals and date back to the third and fourth centuries BC. The capitals provide evidence of the first relations between India and the West.

Other important capital projects include post-classical European capitals and the most recent capitals of the Renaissance and post-Renaissance. With the continuous creativity and innovation in the field of architecture, capital projects could only improve.

by Abdullah Sam
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