Doric and Ionian architectural styles take their names from peoples who spoke different Greek dialects. The Dorians conquered most of mainland Greece by the end of the second millennium B.C.E. The Ionians inhabited the west coast of Anatolia, a region that came to be known as Ionia. After about 750 B.C.E., Ionian culture became very influential among Greek-speaking peoples. Throughout the East, in fact, the name “Yawani” (Ionian) became a generic term for “Greek.”

The simple, sturdy Doric architectural style, so impressively on display in the Parthenon, is characterized by 20-sided columns that have no base and rest right on the floor. Doric columns are topped by plain capitals and are spanned by an architrave composed of triglyphs (three vertical, grooved lines) and metopes (blank panels which were often painted or sculpted).

The more delicate Ionic columns rest on bases that look like a series of stacked rings. Their capitals are decorated with volutes (a spiral scroll design) and support an architrave that has a continuous frieze, rather than a pattern of triglyphs and metopes.