How To Quarry A Column

Selinunte, Sicily, 1998

This picture from the quarry at Selinunte shows a huge column, destined for Temple G, in the process of being cut out of the rock. The columns in this quarry are in various stages of completion, thus providing knowledge of every step of the quarrying operation.

We owe our good fortune, in being able to observe this "snapshot" of the quarrying process, to a war between Selinunte and Carthage, which caused work on the temple to be halted in 409 BC. Carthage was victorious in the war, destroying her antagonist later in that same year.

The photo shows a column drum (section of a column). It is being freed from the matrix of rock which embraces it from behind. The drum is over six feet tall; a person can squeeze in between the column and the rock matrix (side opening in shadow), but it is a tight fit.