The Doric Order

The Doric order is the earliest of the three Classical orders of ancient Greek and later Roman architecture; the other two canonical orders were the Ionic and the Corinthian.

The Temple of Hera, or Heraion, is an ancient Archaic Greek temple at Olympia, Greece, that was dedicated to Hera, queen of the Greek Gods. It was the oldest temple at Olympia and one of the most venerable in all Greece. It represents an important moment in Mediterranean architecture when monumental construction made the transition from impermanent materials—like wood—to permanent materials, namely stone.

The Doric order is characterized by a plain, unadorned column capital and a column that rests directly on the stylobate of the temple without a base. The Doric entablature includes a frieze composed of trigylphs—vertical plaques with three divisions—and metopes—square spaces for either painted or sculpted decoration. The columns are fluted and are of sturdy, if not stocky, proportions.

Ancient Egyptian Origins

While there are no direct scientific evidence that support the ancient Egyptian origins of the fluted Doric column, careful observation leads us to think that it is possibly inspired from pre-dynastic Egyptian use of bundled papyrus pillars. For more information on this, read this short article form the 1936 edition of Nature magazine

Composite Papyrus Capital, 380–343 B.C. Egyptian; Kharga Oasis, Hibis, Late Period | The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1910

Columns at the Hypostyle Hall of Amenhotep III (1388-1348 BC), 18th Dynasty. Photo credit: Scott Haddow

Saqqara Necropolis, Egypt

The buildings imitate in stone masonry various types of of temporary structures made of plant stems and mats that were erected in Upper and Lower Egypt for the celebration of the Jubilee Festival, the rituals of which perpetually renewed the affirmation of the royal existence in the hereafter. The translation into stone of structural forms previously made out of plants may be seen in the long entrance corridor to Zoser’s [Zoser: the First Dynasty pharaoh] funerary precinct where columns that resemble bundles of reeds project from short spur walls on either side of the once-roofed and dark passageway. A person walking through would have emerged suddenly into a large courtyard and the brilliant light of the Egyptian sun. There, to the right upon exiting the portico, one would have seen the gleaming focus of the entire complex, Zoser’s Pyramid.

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