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Astragălus

ἀστράγαλος). A word which literally signifies that particular bone in the ankles of certain quadrupeds which the Greeks as well as the Romans used for dice and other purposes, as described under the corresponding Latin word Talus.

As a technical term astragalus is used by Vitruvius for a certain moulding (the astragal), which seems to have derived its name from its resemblance to a string or chain of tali; and it is, in fact, always used in positions where it seems intended to bind together the parts to which it is applied. It belongs properly to the more highly decorated forms of the Ionic order, in which it appears as a lower edging to the larger mouldings, especially the echinus (ovolo), particularly in the capital, as shown in the following wood-cut, which represents an Ionic capital found in the ruins of the temple of Dionysus at Teos. It is also often used in the entablature as an edging to the divisions of the cornice, frieze, and architrave. The lower figure in the illustration represents a portion of the astragal which runs beneath the crowning moulding of the architrave of the Temple of Erechtheus.

Astragalus. (From Ionic Capital.)

The term is also applied to a plain convex moulding of the same sectional outline as the former, but without the division into links, like a torus on a small scale.

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