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The earliest domes in the Middle East were built with mud-brick and, eventually, with baked brick and stone.
Domes of wood allowed for wide spans due to the relatively light and flexible nature of the material and were the normal method for domed churches by the 7th century, although most domes were built with the other less flexible materials.
For small or tall domes with less horizontal thrust, the thickness of the supporting arches or walls can be enough to resist deformation, which is why drums tend to be much thicker than the domes they support.
Pendentives are triangular sections of a sphere, like concave spandrels between arches, and transition from the corners of a square bay to the circular base of a dome.
"True" domes are said to be those whose structure is in a state of compression, with constituent elements of wedge-shaped voussoirs, the joints of which align with a central point.
The validity of this is unclear, as domes built underground with corbelled stone layers are also in compression from the surrounding earth.
There are also a wide variety of forms and specialized terms to describe them.
A dome can rest upon a rotunda or drum, and can be supported by columns or piers that transition to the dome through squinches or pendentives.
Domes have a long architectural lineage that extends back into prehistory and they have been constructed from mud, snow, stone, wood, brick, concrete, metal, glass, and plastic over the centuries.This is reflected in the uses of the Italian word duomo, the German/Icelandic/Danish word dom ("cathedral"), and the English word dome as late as 1656, when it meant a "Town-House, Guild-Hall, State-House, and Meeting-House in a city." The French word dosme came to acquire the meaning of a cupola vault, specifically, by 1660.This French definition gradually became the standard usage of the English dome in the eighteenth century as many of the most impressive Houses of God were built with monumental domes, and in response to the scientific need for more technical terms.The Renaissance architectural style spread from Italy in the Early modern period.Advancements in mathematics, materials, and production techniques since that time resulted in new dome types.