Architectural Terms

Abacus: the square upper plate upon the capital of a column, supporting the architrave

 

Abutment: The solid part of a pier or wall that supports an arch and receives its thrust or lateral pressure

 

Altar: Symbolic of the Eucharist, worship, presence of God

 

Arch: Triumph, untimely death (when broken), passage from this world to the eternal life

 

Archtrave: (A) the lowest part of the entablature, or that part which rests immediately on the column (B) A molding over a door or window

 

Bas-Relief: Sculpture in low relief

 

Bead: A small round molding often cut like pearls on a string

 

Bead and Reel: A small round molding decorated with alternating bead and two small disks

 

Boss: A protuberant such as a stud or a knob

 

Buttress: A projecting mass of masonry, used for resisting the thrust of an arch, or for ornament

 

Capital: The uppermost part of a column, pilaster, or pillar

 

Caryatid: A draped female figure supporting an entablature, used in place of a column or pilaster. Male figures used in the same way are referred to as "Atlantes"

 

Catacomb: Ancient subterranean burial places consisting of passages with side recesses for tombs, especially those near Rome, or Appian Way, supposed to have been a place of refuge and also interment of early Christians

 

Cenotaph: An empty tomb or monument erected in honor of a person who is buried elsewhere

 

Cinerary: Used for ashes, especially those of the cremated dead

 

Coemeterium or Subterranean Vault: Provides enclosed interment for an entire family

 

Colonnade: A series of comulmns placed at regular intervals (When in front of a building it is called a "portico;" when surrounding, or carried about three sides of a building, a "peristyle"

 

Dentil: One of a series of small square blocks or projections or cornices, in an ornamental band, used particularly in the Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite orders

 

Egg & Dart: An alternating pattern resembling an egg with decorative points or "darts" on both sides

 

Entablature: That part of an order which is over the columns including the architrave, frieze, and cornice

 

Entasis: An almost imperceptible swelling of the shaft of a column

 

Exedra: A monument resembling a large bench that has its origins in ancient temples and basilicas (Older forms are usually elliptical or semi-circular, while contemporary forms are often rectangular)

 

Flute: A chancel of curved section; often applied to one of the vertical series of such channels used to decorate columns or pilasters

 

Fret: An ornamental design consisting of repeated and symmetrical figures, often in relief, contained within a band or border

 

Frieze: (A) the part of the entablature between the architrave and cornice, a flat surface either uniform or broken by triglyphs and often enriched by sculpture, (B) Any sculptured or richly ornamented band in a building

 

Key: See also Fret

 

Keystone: A central wedge-shaped stone typically found at the top of an arch responsible for holding the structure

 

Ledgers: Large monuments that cover the ground above the interment, typically the size of the grave itself and often used in conjunction with a family monument

 

Lintel: A horizontal member spanning an opening

 

Mausoleum: Usually an above-ground crypt with doors; broadly classified as a sepulchral sarcophagus, subterranean vault (coemeterium), and columbarium.

 

Miter: A joint formed by two beveled ends or edges

 

Niche: A hollow or recess, generally within the thickness of a wall, for a statue, bust, or other ornament

 

Obelisk: An upright four-sided pillar, gradually tapering as it rises, and cut off at the top in the form of a pyramid

 

Ogee: A molding consisting of two members, the one concave, the other convex, having a profile in the form of the letter S

 

Ossuary: A box containing the bones of the deceased

 

Pedestal: A short type of obelisk also the portion of a memorial that supports a vase

 

Pier: (A) Pillars, posts, or a mass of solid stonework for supporting an arch; (B) A piece of wall between two openings

 

Pilaster: An upright architectural member, rectangular in plan, structurally a pier, but architecturally treated as a column and projecting from the wall only one-third or less of its width (The bases, capitals, and entablatures of pilasters have the same parts as those of columns.)

 

Pillar: A pier or column intended to support an arch, rood, statue, etc.; a firm upright, insulated support for a superstructure ("Pillar" is a general term for a stay or support while "column" denotes a pillar of a particular order or type

 

Plinth: A square block serving as a base for a statue, vase, etc.; or the lowest part of the base of a column

 

Portico: A covered space enclosed by columns, at the entrance of a building

 

Pulpit: Testimony, Word of God, instruction in religion

 

Pylon: A structure forming an entrance to an Egyptian temple, consisting of a getaway, on each side of which stood a tower in the shape of a truncated pyramid, covered with sculpture (The tower itself was sometimes called a pylon.)

 

Pyramid: A solid body on a triangular or polygonal base with triangular faces meeting at one point used for tombs in ancient Egypt

 

Sarcophagus: A place in which the deceased is interred, or a place intended for that purpose

 

Sepulchral Sarcophagus: A type of mausoleum designed to accommodate one or more interments and features a removable cap that may be ornamented

 

Serif: One of the fine lines of a letter, especially one of the fine cross strokes at the top or bottom

 

Shrine: An alter or sacred place

 

Subterranean Vault or Coemeterium: An enclosed interment for an entire family

 

Tablet: An upright monument set atop a base; may be found in a variety of measurements with the top cut in a variety of ways including serpentine, straight, oval or round, and apex

 

Tetrastyle: A building with four columns in front

 

Triglyph: An ornament on the frieze of the Doric order, repeared at regular intervals; consists of a rectangular tablet slightly projectedand divided nearly to the top by two parallel and perpendicular gutters or channels, called "glyphs" into three parts or spaces (A half channel is also cut upon each of the perpendicular edges of the tablet. Triglyphs alternate with metopes.)

 

Tripod: any utensil, vessel, or object supported on three legs

 

Volute: A kind of spiral scroll-shaped ornament used on the Ionic and Composite capitals, of which it is a principal ornament