An arch is a structure that spans a space while supporting mass (e.g. a doorway in a stone wall). Arches appeared as early as the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamian brick architecture and their systematic use started with the Ancient Romans who were the first to apply the technique to a wide range of structures.
Elements of an arch:
Drawings from: Fisher, Roger C. 1992. Visual Lexicon of the South African Dwelling. Cape Town: Unibook. p, 10.