SAH Archipedia uses terms from the Getty Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) to categorize and classify metadata for the entries in the database. For more information on the Getty AAT, click here

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tabby (cement)

A mixture of lime and water with shell, gravel, or stone which, when dry, is as hard as rock; used as a building material.


Clay with a component of fine gravel used to make bricks or otherwise puddled, rammed, and dried. Primarily used for wall construction.

tar (material)

Thick, viscous, brown or black, inflammable liquid residue resulting from the partial evaporation or distillation of wood (such as pine, fir, or larch), sugar, tobacco, peat, coal, or other organic substance. It contains hydrocarbons, resins, alcohols, and other compounds; it has a heavy resinous or bituminous odor. It is used as an antiseptic, for coating asphalt roads, preserving timber, caulk on wooden sailing ships, waterproofing for roofing papers, insecticide, in disinfectant soaps. Some tars, such as those obtained from pine or beech wood, have been mixed with linseed oil to form a dark brown glaze and for other purposes.

tar paper

Heavy paper coated or impregnated with tar for use especially in building.


Pendant trimming, decoration, or garment, comprising loose strands. Before the 20th century, usually a wooden mold covered with strands of silk or worsted; now often merely a bunch of threads, cords, or other strands gathered together at the top.

teak (wood)

Wood of the species Tectona grandis, native to south and southeast Asia, including India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Myanmar; it is cultivated in many additional areas, including Africa and the Caribbean. Teak is a golden brown wood with a straight grain and coarse texture, very resistant to insects and decay. It is used for high quality furniture, boxes, chests, doors, shipbuilding, railway carriages, veneer, and in India also for building houses. Teak wood retains an aromatic leathery smell for over a hundred years or more.

Teflon (TM)

A trademarked name for polytetrafluoroethyelene (PTFE) which was discovered by Roy Plunkett 1938 and first marketed as Teflon (TM) by DuPont in 1943. This fluorinated polymer is known for its resistance to adhesion, heat, oxidation, light, and chemicals. It is used chiefly for molding articles and for nonstick cookware.

telephone poles

Utility poles used primarily to support telephone lines or cables.


Additive to clay, such as sand or grit, that improves workability, uniform forming and drying.


Paint formed of an emulsion of fatty and watery constituents. The standard emulsion is usually created with egg yolk and water, with variants of man-made emulsions created with whole egg, linseed oil, casein glue, gum, or wax.

Tennessee marble

A coarse, variegated marble from Hawkins County, Tennessee. It is dark chocolate brown or red in color with white streaks and masses throughout and it usually contains some fossils.

Tennessee Pink marble

A fine pink marble, suitable for sculpture, of which a number of varieties exist. Tennessee marbles are generally harder and more compact than other American marbles, making them more suitable for outdoor use but also making them more difficult to carve and polish.


Sheet steel coated with an alloy of 80% lead and 20% tin; widely used for roofing and construction work.

terraces (landscaped-site elements)

Level paved or planted areas, usually elevated above surrounding terrain and adjacent to buildings or parts of garden complexes.

terracotta (clay material)

A baked or semi-fired material that is usually a mixture of clay, grog, and water; it has been used for pottery, statuettes, lamps, roof tiles, and cornices since ancient times. It may be glazed prior to firing. To produce an item, terracotta is molded or shaped, dried for several days then fired to at least 600 C. It is fireproof, lighter in weight than stone, and usually brownish red in color.


Marble aggregate concrete that is cast in place or precast and ground smooth; used especially as a decorative surfacing on floors and walls.

tesserae (mosaic components)

Small, squarish pieces of colored marble, glass, stone, or tile used in making mosaics.

textured blocks
No description is available for this term.

thatched roof
No description is available for this term.

thermal insulation

A material providing high resistance to heat flow; usually made of mineral wool, cork, asbestos, foam glass, foamed plastic, or diatomaceous earth, fabricated in the form of batts, blankets, blocks, boards, granular fill and loose fill.

tie rods

Rods used as connecting members or braces, especially to counteract the spreading action of vaults or roofs.

tile (material)

Flat, solid, and relatively thin durable material generally used for roofing, flooring, or wall and ceiling covering; often rectangular or squarish in shape. For fired clay materials of varying shapes and thicknesses and with various uses in addition to covering, prefer "ceramic tile." For visual works, such as painting or sculpture, on a tile support, use "tiles (visual works)"; for visual work compositions comprising multiple tiles, use "tile work (visual works)."

tile flooring (flooring)

Floor finishing materials that are composed of multiple pieces that are assembled and adhered to the floor as a unified surface.

Tilia (genus)

Genus having approximately 30 species native to the Northern Hemisphere. A few species are ornamental and shade trees, among the most graceful of deciduous trees, with heart-shaped, coarsely toothed leaves; fragrant cream-colored flowers; and small globular fruit hanging from a narrow leafy bract. This genus was placed in the family Tiliaceae, but genetic research resulted in its being placed in Malvaceae. They are generally, but not always, called "lime" in Britain and "linden" or "basswood" in North America.

tilt-up construction

Refers to the method of constructing walls and partitions, sometimes floors, by pouring concrete or assembling wooden sections on site in a horizontal position, and then tilting them into place.

timber (wood by form)

Wood in the form of large, squared or dressed pieces used for forming part of a built work or used to create a curving frame branching outward from the keel of a ship and bending upward in a vertical direction. Timber that is curved or bent may be a composite formed of several pieces rather than being a single piece of wood.

timber (wood by origin)

Wood of standing trees of a type or quality suitable for use by humans in construction, furniture making, or for other purposes. For dressed wood, use "timber (wood by form)."

timber (wood by origin)

Wood of standing trees of a type or quality suitable for use by humans in construction, furniture making, or for other purposes. For dressed wood, use "timber (wood by form)."

tin (metal)

Pure metallic element having symbol Sn and atomic number 50; a soft, pliable, silvery white metal. Use also for this metal as processed and formed, usually in combination with other substances, to make various objects and materials.

tin alloy

Alloy in which tin is the principle component.


Thin, protective coating of tin applied to sheet iron or steel by electroplating or dipping.


Rubber cushions, usually filled with compressed air, which fit around the wheels of a vehicle.


Pure metallic element having symbol Ti and atomic number 22; a hard, lustrous, silvery metal. Use also for this metal as processed and formed, usually in combination with other substances, to make various objects and materials.


A velvety-black variety of cryptocrystalline quartz, siliceous shale, or similar substance used by jewelers for testing the purity of precious metal, especially gold, by the streak left on the stone when rubbed with the metal.


Ornamental openwork of masonry found in the upper parts of Gothic style windows; also, similar motifs and forms in various materials applied decoratively, as on walls, furniture, and other objects.

trails (recreation areas)

Various types of paths or tracks worn by the passage of persons or animals travelling in a wilderness area, or deliberately maintained for passage through various outdoor environments.


A dense, crystalline or microcrystalline limestone that was formed by the evaporation of river or spring waters. It is named after Tivoli, Italy ("Tibur" in Latin), where large deposits occur, and it is characterized by a light color and the ability to take a good polish. It is typically banded, due to the presence of iron compounds or other organic impurities. It is often used for walls and interior decorations in public buildings. It is distinguished from "tufa" by being harder and stronger.


Woody, perennial plants usually with a single, long, self-supporting stem or trunk, and which grow to a considerable height.

trefoils (geometric motifs)

Figures of three equal arcs or lobes, separated by cusps.

trimming (decorative material)

Collectively used for decorative or additional material serving to finish, decorate, or complete.

trusses (structural elements)

In engineering, structural members such as beams, bars, or rods, usually fabricated from straight pieces of metal or timber, that form a series of triangles lying in a single plane; based on the principle that a triangle cannot be easily distorted by stress. Trusses were probably first used in primitive lake dwellings during the early Bronze Age, about 2500 BCE. The first trusses were built of timber. The Greeks used trusses extensively in roofing; trusses were used for various construction purposes in the European Middle Ages. A major impetus to truss design came in the development of covered bridges in the United States in the early 19th century. Cast iron and wrought iron were succeeded by steel for railroad truss bridges. Trusses are also used extensively in machinery, such as cranes.

Tsuga canadensis (species)

Species of coniferous tree native to eastern North America, from Minnesota, through southern Quebec, Nova Scotia, and in the Appalachian Mountains to Georgia and Alabama. Populations occur in several areas east and west of the Appalachians, including Pennsylvania.

Tsuga heterophylla (species)
No description is available for this term.


Calcareous, porous limestone formed by the precipitation of calcium carbonate at the vents of springs and geysers, along streams, or on the bottoms or shores of lakes. It is distinguished from travertine by generally being soft and easily crumbled.


Rock composed of the finer kinds of volcanic detritus.

tule (grass material)

General term for material from the leaves and stems of several species of large aquatic grass used by Native Americans in house construction, making mats, rafts, etc. From an Aztec word, "tullen."

tupelo (wood)

Wood of any tree belonging to the genus Nyssa, found in North America and Asia. It is soft, light, and tough and is used in the manufacture of bridge and pier decking and construction.

turquoise (mineral)

A triclinic mineral of blue, blue green, or yellowish green color.

turrets (towers)

Small towers, especially when corbelled out from a corner.

Tuscan order

Refers to the architectural order characterized by unfluted columns, torus bases, unadorned cushion capitals, and plain friezes.

Tuscan red

A bright red pigment prepared by depositing an organic red dye, such as alizarin, on a red iron oxide base.

tusk (material)

General term for material made from tusks, which are large protruding teeth found in elephants, walruses, narwhals, and boars. Tusks, like other teeth, have a soft center surrounded by hard dentin primarily composed of calcium hydroxyapatite with smaller amounts of calcium carbonate, calcium fluoride, magnesium phosphate, and ossein. A hard durable enamel forms a smooth outer surface. Tusk has been used to make sculptures, handles, and other items.


Strong string composed of two or more strands twisted together, especially that which measures less than 3/16 of an inch in diameter.