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A frieze on an apartment building in Manhattan

A frieze is a sculptured or ornamented band of Classical Architecture, commonly found towards the top of urban or cultural buildings. Friezes vary from displaying simple patterns like the pattern in the photograph to the right, or complex sculptures that depict mythological or historical occurrences.[1]

Friezes at Columbia UniversityEdit

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A patterned frieze on the Library of Columbia University

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A frieze on the Library of Columbia University with a decorative lion face sculpture

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The Library of Columbia University

The friezes found at Columbia University were both patterned friezes, and friezes with intricate sculptures.

The two photographs on the right are definitely of friezes because they are both ornamented and/or scultptured bands towards the top of buildings. These two friezes are located on the same building, the Library of Columbia University, which is depicted in the bottommost image on the right. The topmost image is of the patterned frieze, which is a simple repeated sequence of basic designs. The image below that on the right captures a frieze with a decorative sculpture of a lion head and other intricate, elaborate designs.[2]

It's likely that the sculptured friezes only appeared on buildings in Ancient Greece after the patterned friezes, which were easier to construct and commonly seen. Additionally, the sculptures on the friezes became more and more intricate as the centuries went by due to discoveries of new sculpting techniques and art style. Overall, the style of friezes has evolved over time, to the point where a modern-day building, like the Library of Columbia University, may harbor both types of friezes.


  1. Gloria Fiero, The Humanistic Tradition(New York: McGraw, 2011), 125.
  2. Gloria Fiero, The Humanistic Tradition(New York: McGraw, 2011), 125.

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