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A column in structural engineering is a vertical structural element that transmits, through compression, the weight of the structure above to other structural elements below. For the purpose of wind or earthquake engineering, columns may be designed to resist lateral forces. Other compression members are often termed "columns" because of the similar stress conditions. Columns are frequently used to support beams or arches on which the upper parts of walls or ceilings rest. In architecture "column" refers to such a structural element that also has certain proportional and decorative features. A column might also be a decorative or triumphant feature but need not be supporting any structure e.g. a statue on top.



In the architecture of ancient Egypt as early as 2600 BC the architect Imhotep made use of stone columns whose surface was carved to reflect the organic form of bundled reeds; in later Egyptian architecture faceted cylinders were also common.

Some of the most elaborate columns in the ancient world were those of Persia especially the massive stone columns erected in Persepolis. They included double-bull structures in their capitals. The Hall of Hundred Columns at Persepolis, measuring 70 × 70 meters was built by the Achaemenid king Darius I (524–486 BC). Many of the ancient Persian columns are standing, some being more than 30 meters tall.[citation needed]

The Greeks pioneered the use of the classical orders (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian) which was expanded by the Romans to include the Tuscan and Composite styles.

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