The Greeks laid their masonry without mortar but with joints cut to great exactness. Marble was not generally used until the 5th cent. B.C. Where coarse stonework or crude bricks were used, a coating, composed of marble dust and lime rubbed and highly polished, was applied to them. Even marble itself was sometimes so treated. Although it was long thought that buildings in ancient Greece retained the unbroken white of the marble, in fact colors and gilding were customarily applied to emphasize decorative sculpture and certain details; remaining traces of these have been found. Having discovered in the simple column and lintel an adequate method of construction, they used it exclusively, drawing from it the maximum of dignity and beauty.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.