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Why old buildings use the same leaf design on columns

One type of leaf is on almost every column.

The design isn’t just a coincidence.
Phil Edwards is a senior producer for the Vox video team.

If you’ve ever seen a Corinthian column, you’ve probably seen a familiar leafy design. As the above video shows, that design is strikingly consistent throughout history.

These leaves actually have an originating myth courtesy of the writer Vitruvius, crediting the sculptor Callimachus with the creation of the Corinthian column. The acanthus leaves on the column have remained consistent over millennia and, over time, have come to represent more than just a sturdy plant.

They’re on display at the National Arboretum in Washington, DC, where columns that used to sit on the United States Capitol have been relocated. These striking columns aren’t just a historical record — they’re a symbol of how Corinthian design and acanthus leaves manage to endure over time.

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