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(1) One of the principal regional dialects of ancient Greece, closely related to Attic, and characteristic of the so-called ‘Ionian’ cities of Asia Minor. (2) In classical architecture, the Ionic order, which emerged after Doric (perhaps from about 570 bc) in the context of Aegean and eastern Greek settlements. The order typically shows a column of slender proportions tapering evenly upwards, smoothly fluted with 24 (rather than the 20 of Doric) flutes. The base consists of disc-like roundels surmounted by a cushion-like moulding (torus: ‘cushion’). The capital has distinctive end-spirals (volutes"). Unlike the Doric, the Ionic capital has four distinct sides, only two of which are intended to be conspicuous. On comers this created a problem, and a special comer-version capital was devised with the two ‘facing’ sides adjacent and linked by an angled volute. Above the column, the Ionic order is characterized by friezes of egg-and-tongue motif and dentils.

The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983Copied