Against Gravity

David Khoshtaria

Full Paper
The Squinch in the Architecture of the Caucasus
The squinch is an essential structural element of the domed architecture of the Caucasus. Being adopted from Sasanian architecture, it showed to be most appropriate for early Medieval Armenian and Georgian stone structures, both technically and aesthetically. The squinch was widely used in both countries; however, while in Armenia it coexisted with the pendentive since the seventh century, in Georgia it remained the only way of making the transition from the square bay to the circular base of the dome until the ninth century.

The system of squinches used in early Medieval Armenia and Georgia has close parallels in the architecture of Cappadocia and Tur Abdin, but in the Caucasus there are much more extant examples, which make possible the deeper analysis of their form and of the way they work.

In the tenth century, a hybrid structural form was developed in the architecture of south-west Georgia (Tao-Klarjeti) which can be described as a squinch inserted into a pendentive. Unlike the earlier Caucasian squinch that had a semiconical shape, this squinch was flattened in order to follow the curve of the pendentive.