SHAFT (O. Eng., sceafl, from scafan, to shave; the word is common to Teutonic languages), any slender, smoothed rod or stick, and so first used of the body of an arrow or spear to which the head is attached; hence the word is applied to the handle of a tool, and to the pair of bars between which a horse is harnessed to a vehicle, and in machinery to connecting bars or rods conveying power from one part of a machine to another. It is also applied to an opening sunk in the ground for mining or other purposes (see SHAFT-SINKING). This use is probably due to the use of Ger. Schacht, a variant of schaft. In architecture the term " shaft " is applied to the body of a column between the capital and the base. In Romanesque work shafts are occasionally octagonal, and are sometimes ornamented with the zigzag or chevron, or fluted vertically or in spirals; the most beautiful examples of the latter being found in the cloisters of St John Lateran and at St Paul's outside the walls at Rome, where they are enriched with mosaics. Perhaps the earliest ornamented shafts are those of the Parthian Palace, now the mosque, at Diarbekr in Mesopotamia.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)