Armenian architects devised innovative arches to withstand frequent earthquakes. This room's arches, built of Indiana limestone, spring from the center of each wall to form the base for a stepped dome that terminates in the yertik, originally an opening to the sky.
Carved in the keystone of each chalkboard arch is an eagle reminiscent of those on the column capitals at the 7th-century Cathedral of Zvardnots. The heritage wall bears the names of historically important Armenians from the first century B.C. to the 20th century.
A basalt stone from the grounds of Sanahin serves as the cornerstone. In the mortar behind it are the thumbprints of five of the oldest Armenians living in the Pittsburgh area, as well as the handprint of six-month-old Nora Shnorhokian, then the city's youngest Armenian, symbolizing the continuity of the Armenian presence in western Pennsylvania.
STYLE: 10th- to 12th-century Monastic
DEDICATED: August 28, 1988
Edited and modified 4/98 by Marie Mazzocco
Sound clips edited by John Rehbun and Carl Kuzmich from the Center for Instructional Development & Distance Education (CIDDE) at the University of Pittsburgh