Regular readers of this blague know that Dr. M. is easily taken with odd and unusual words. Well, the poor doctor has been enchanted again.
Here follows a wordhoard excavated from Barry Cunliffe's big book on European archaeology. Perhaps some doctormetablogians know one or two of these words, but I doubt anyone knows all of them, and I confess that each one is absolutely new to me.
I'm embarrassed but it's the awful truth.
Dillisk,which sounds like a disk or circular form of dill, is in actual fact a kind of sea lettuce or creatnach, an edible algae, much consumed during the Neolithic. Carragheen, nowadays defined as "a family of linear sulfated polysaccharides" was at one time the name of a food derived from red algae -- apparently an ancient snackfood. Melitot is an alternative name for sweet clover. Vetchlings are sweet peas. An ard is a early plough -- no more than a spike that is dragged through the soil, most commonly by oxen. A lynchet -as I'm sure everyone knows, is not a minor vigilante hanging but rather a "ridge or terrace seen on the slopes of the Chalk,Oölitic, and Liassic escarpments in various parts of England, especially in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Wiltshire, and Somerset." It's now public knowledge: Dr. M knows zilch about Oolitic escarpments. A leister is a breed of sheep. A lur is not a way to catch fish, but is an ancient bronze horn, precursor of the trumpet (though stopless). Here are a pair of lurs.
They look like high-end showerheads. I can't imagine what they sound like. A cist is not a cyst. It is a small stone coffin or ossuary. An orthostat is an upright stone used as a member of a larger structure (as opposed to a menhir, which usually stands alone). Cob or cobb (or sometimes clom) is a building material comprised of clay,sand, straw, water, and soil, something like clench. A nuraghe is a megalithic structure found in ancient Sardinia. Eight thousand nuraghi (mirabile dictu!) are still in existence. Here's one:
A corbel is a stone that juts out of a wall to support a weight. If it's not stone, but wood, it's called a "tassel" or a "bragger." A currach is of course a kind of Irish boat, once constructed out of animal hides, but now out of canvas. It is much smaller than a penteconter, an ancient Greek galley which is the ancestor of the warlike trireme and the fabled quinquireme. Strakes are the planks that compose the hull of a wooden ship. Callais is a green stone used for bead-making in the early part of the Bronze Age. Skeumorphism, my very favorite of all these exciting new words, is "an element of design or structure that serves little or no purpose in the artifact fashioned from the new material but was essential to the object made from the original material." Archeologists apparently use the term in a more restricted sense, as for example in the case of a bronze vessel which retains and imitates features of an antecedent clay pot. Or, to take a wikipedian example, "decorative stone features of Greek temples such as mutules, guttae, and modillions that are derived from earlier wooden temples." What are mutules, guttae, and modillions? I don't know, but they sure do set the logo-curious mind all a-twitter.