From the earliest times, columns have played a leading role in architecture. Wikipedia cites the use of columns as early as 2600 BC in Egypt. The Persians, Greeks and Romans followed suit and all had an enormous and lasting impact on the world’s architecture.
In the simplest terms, classical columns consist of three parts – the shaft, the capital and the base, and in five basic Orders of Architecture:Doric, Tuscan, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite. The earliest columns were carved of stone and wood. Today’s are primarily molded and are constructed of various materials such as FRP (fiber reinforced polymer or fiberglass) and GFRC (glass fiber reinforced concrete). Other composites are also currently available.