Corbel domes and true domes have been found in the ancient Middle East in modest buildings and tombs. The construction of the first technically advanced true domes in Europe began in the Roman Architectural Revolution, when they were frequently used by the Romans to shape large interior spaces of temples and public buildings, such as the Pantheon. This tradition continued unabated after the adoption of Christianity in the Byzantine (East Roman) religious and secular architecture, culminating in the revolutionarypendentive dome of the 6th century church Hagia Sophia. Squinches, the technique of making a transition from a square shaped room to a circular dome, was most likely invented by the ancient Persians. The Sassanid Empire initiated the construction of the first large-scale domes in Persia, with such royal buildings as the Palace of Ardashir, Sarvestan and Ghal'eh Dokhtar. With the Muslim conquest of Greek-Roman Syria, the Byzantine architectural style became a major influence on Muslim societies. Indeed the use of domes as a feature of Islamic architecture has gotten its roots from Roman Greater-Syria (see Dome of the Rock).
An original tradition of using multiple domes was developed in the church architecture in Russia, which had adopted Orthodox Christianity from Byzantium. Russian domes are often gilded or brightly painted, and typically have a carcass and an outer shell made of wood or metal. The onion dome became another distinctive feature in the Russian architecture, often in combination with thetented roof.
Domes in Western Europe became popular again during the Renaissance period, reaching a zenith in popularity during the early 18th century Baroque period. Reminiscent of the Roman senate, during the 19th century they became a feature of grand civic architecture. As a domestic feature the dome is less common, tending only to be a feature of the grandest houses and palaces during the Baroque period.
Construction of domes in the Muslim world reached its peak during the 16th – 18th centuries, when the Ottoman, Safavid and MughalEmpires, ruling an area of the World compromising North Africa, the Middle East and South- and Central Asia, applied lofty domes to their religious buildings to create a sense of heavenly transcendence. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the Shah Mosque and theBadshahi Mosque are primary examples of this style of architecture.
Many domes, particularly those from the Renaissance and Baroque periods of architecture, are crowned by a lantern or cupola, a Medieval innovation which not only serves to admit light and vent air, but gives an extra dimension to the decorated interior of the dome.