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A lintel is a structural horizontal block that spans the space or opening between two vertical

supports.[1] It can be a load-bearing building component, a decorative architectural element, or a

combined ornamented structural item. It is often found over portals, doors, windows, and fireplaces.

1Structural uses

2Ornamental uses

3Examples gallery

4See also


Structural uses
In worldwide architecture of different eras and many cultures, a lintel has been an element of post
and lintel construction. Many different building materials have been used for lintels. [1]
In classical western construction methods, defining lintel by its Merriam-Webster definition, a lintel is
a load-bearing member and is placed over an entranceway.[1] In ancient Western classical
architecture, the lintel, called an architrave, is a structural element that is usually rested on stone
pillars or stacked stone columns, over a portal or entranceway. An example from the Mycenaean
Greece cultural period (c. 1600 BCE c. 1100 BCE) is the Treasury of Atreus in Mycenae, Greece. It
weighs 120 tons, with approximate dimensions 8.3 5.2 1.2 m,[2] one of the largest in the world.
A lintel in a fireplace supports the chimney above the fireplace, and a stone lintel bridge is simply a
lintel which spans a distance for a path or road.

Ornamental carved lintel over Mandapa entrance at Chennakesava Temple, in the Hoysala architecturetradition
of southern India

Ornamental uses
The use of the lintel form as a decorative building element over portals, with no structural function,
has been employed in the architectural traditions and styles of most cultures over the centuries.
Examples of the ornamental use of lintels are in the hypostyle halls and slab stelas in ancient
Egypt and the Indian rock-cut architecture of Buddhist temples in caves. Preceding prehistoric and
subsequent Indian Buddhist temples were wooden buildings with structural load-bearing wood lintels

across openings. The rock-cut excavated cave temples were more durable, and the non-loadbearing carved stone lintels allowed creative ornamental uses of classical Buddhist elements. Highly
skilled artisans were able to simulate the look of wood, imitating the nuances of a wooden structure
and the wood grain in excavating cave temples from monolithic rock.[3] In freestanding Indian building
examples, the Hoysala architecture tradition between the 11th and 14th centuries produced many
elaborately carved non-structural stone lintels in the Southern Deccan Plateau region of southern
India. The Hoysala Empire era was an important period in the development of art and architectural
the South Indian Kannadigan culture. It is remembered today primarily for its Hindu
temples' mandapa, lintels, and other architectural elements, such as at the Chennakesava Temple.
The Maya civilization in the Americas was known for its sophisticated art and monumental
architecture. The Mayan city of Yaxchilan, on the Usumacinta River in present-day southern Mexico,
specialized in the stone carving of ornamental lintel elements within structural stone lintels. The
earliest carved lintels were created in 723 CE. At the Yaxchilan archaeological site there are fiftyeight lintels with decorative pieces spanning the doorways of major structures. Among the finest
Mayan carving to be excavated are three temple door lintels that feature narrative scenes of a queen
celebrating the king's anointing by a god.[4]