What is a “Capital” in Masonry Architecture? 


What is a “Capital” in Masonry Architecture? 
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The capitals at the Philips Library (Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA) are comprised of two parts: the ornamental filagree work at the top and the supporting columns below.

Derived from ancient Greek architecture, a capital (from the Latin caput, or “head”) forms the topmost member of a supporting column. 

The capital mediates between the column and the load thrusting down upon it, broadening the area of the column’s supporting surface.

It rises to join and support the typically square abacus and circular shaft of the column. 

A capital often gets selected for ornamentation, and its shape may be convex, concave, or scrolling out. The treatment of its detail may be an indication of the era when the building was constructed.

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