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Post and lintel, "prop and lintel" or "trabeated" is a simple construction method using a lintel, header, or architrave as the horizontal member over a building void supported at its ends by two vertical columns, pillars, or posts. This architectural system and building method has been commonly used for centuries to support the weight of the structure located above the openings created by windows and doors in a bearing wall. Post and lintel is different than a beam joined between two posts, it must pass over the tops of the supports. Post-and-beam is a general term for any kind of timber framing.
In architecture, a post-and-lintel or trabeated system refers to the use of horizontal beams or lintels which are borne up by columns or posts. The name is from the Latin trabs, beam; influenced by trabeatus, clothed in the trabea, a ritual garment.
The trabeated system is a fundamental principle of Neolithic architecture, Ancient Greek architecture and Ancient Egyptian architecture. Other trabeated styles are the Persian, Lycian, Japanese, traditional Chinese, and ancient Chinese architecture, especially in northern China, and nearly all the Indian styles. The traditions are represented in North and Central America by Mayan architecture, and in South America by Inca architecture .
A noteworthy example of a trabeated system is in Volubilis, from the Roman era, where one side of the Decumanus Maximus is lined with trabeated elements, while the opposite side of the roadway is designed in arched style.
In India the style was used originally for wooden construction, but later the technique was adopted for stone structures for decorated load-bearing and purely ornamented non-structural purposes.
There are two main force vectors acting upon the post and lintel system: weight carrying compression at the joint between lintel and post, and tension induced by deformation of self-weight and the load above between the posts. The two posts are under compression from the weight of the lintel (or beam) above. The lintel will deform by sagging in the middle because the underside is under tension and the topside is under compression.
Post and lintel construction is one of four ancient structural methods of building, the others being the corbel, arch-and-vault, and truss.
The biggest disadvantage to a post and lintel construction is the limited weight that can be held up, and the small distances required between the posts. Ancient Roman architecture development of the arch allowed for much larger structures to be constructed. The arcuated system, which involves the use of arches, replaced the post and lintel trabeated system in larger buildings and structures, until the industrial era introduction of steel girder beams.