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

Click on the icon to view the definition of the selected term.

lime mortar

A mixture of hydrated lime, sand, and water, which has a compressive strength up to 400 psi.


lime plaster

A type of plaster composed of calcium oxide (lime). Lime plaster has been used since antiquity, prepared by heating limestone to remove carbon dioxide and convert it to anhydrous calcium oxide (quicklime). When quicklime is mixed with water, it converts to calcium hydroxide (slaked lime).


limestone

General name for a sedimentary rock existing in many varieties, consisting primarily of calcite or dolomite.


limonite

Limonite refers to any hydrated iron ore. A brownish yellow deposit, it is formed by precipitation in marshy areas and is found mixed in clay and sand as loose powder or as a mass. Limonite is also called bog iron ore.


linen (material)

General name for textile woven from the spun fiber of the flax plant.


linoleum

Durable floor coverings made primarily of linseed oil, with a filler of cork dust or wood flour, and flax, with pigments added to create the desired colors and patterns; also, similar floor coverings made with substitutes for the linseed oil or filler or both.


Liriodendron tulipifera (species)

Species of large, columnar tree native to North America, the common name referring to the large flowers that superficially resemble tulips, although the plants are instead closely related to magnolias. They provide food and shelter to butterflies and other animals. They are used for fine-grained, stable timber and landscaping.


living rock

Refers to rock in its original environment, as opposed to having been quarried. It typically refers to rock that is carved or otherwise used in situ, often to sculpture or architecture carved in situ.


lodgepole pine (wood)

Wood from the Pinus contorta, found in western North America.


log (wood)

The unhewn portion of a felled tree, including a length cut off for use as firewood, construction, or another purpose.


log construction

Vernacular form of construction using entire logs. One of the oldest known methods of construction, log construction has been used for dwellings, as well as churches and bridges. Log walls are produced by stacking logs and filled with mud or other insulating materials. Structures made of logs are characterized by corner joints that interlock with a cross-lap connection, or with dovetailing.


logwood (colorant)

A blackish blue or blood red natural colorant extracted from the logwood tree, Haematoxylon campechianum, of Central America, Mexico, and the West Indies. It was formerly used to make black ink, and is still used to dye textiles black.


longleaf pine (wood)

Wood from the Pinus palustris, found in the southern United States and valued as timber.


lumber

Material cut from timber to sizes and forms suitable for structural use.


luster (textile)

Textile made with cotton, silk, or linen warp and wool, mohair, alpaca, or some other glossy hair fiber as weft in order to produce a lustrous surface.


Maclura pomifera (species)

Species of small deciduous tree or large shrub belonging to the mulberry family, Moraceae, typically growing to 8-15 m (26-49 ft) tall. It is dioeceous, with male and female flowers on different plants. The multiple fruit is bumpy and spherical, 7-15 cm in diameter, filled with a sticky white latex sap. In fall, it turns a bright yellow-green color and has a faint odor similar to that of oranges.


magnesian limestone

Limestone containing the combined carbonate of lime and magnesium, and frequently used for building.


magnesite

White to bluish gray mineral,. It is used in the manufacture of brick and as an ore of magnesium.


magnesium

Pure metallic element having the symbol Mg and atomic number 12; the lightest metal that is stable under ordinary conditions, silvery white in color. Use also for this metal as processed and formed, usually in combination with other substances, to make various objects and materials.


Magnolia grandiflora (species)

Species of large evergreen tree, reaching over 25 meters in height, native to the southeastern United States, from coastal Virginia south to central Florida, and west to eastern Texas and Oklahoma. It has been widely cultivated with over 100 varieties worldwide, prized for its large dark green leaves and large white fragrant flowers. The wood from the tree is used for furniture, veneer, and other items.


mahogany (wood)

Refers to the wood of trees of the genus Swietenia, found in tropical climates, primarily in Mexico, Cuba, Central America, and the West Indies. It varies in color from yellow to a rich red brown, and is valued in furniture-making and sculpture-carving because it is hard, fine-grained, and takes a high polish. Mahogany has a fine, straight grain that takes a high polish. It is dimensionally stable and does not shrink, warp, or swell. The durable, dark reddish-brown wood was imported to Europe in the 18th century where it became popular for furniture, paneling and veneer. Ammonia brings out a rich, red color in mahogany wood. Mahogany is frequently attacked by pinhole borer beetles. Many woods of similar colors have also been called mahoganies, but usually do not have rich color or fine cutting characteristics of the true mahogany wood. However, the related African genus Khaya produces a similar wood. Mahogany was used by Chippendale, Hepplewhite, and the Adam brothers for high quality furniture.


makore (wood)

Acidic wood of the species Tieghemella heckelii, reddish to purplish-brown in color, typically with straight grain and dark streaks. It is used for furniture, cabinet work, joinery, decorative veneers, panelling, boat building, flooring, turnery, carving, pianos, and other musical instruments.


man-made hydrographic features

Features that contain water and are man-made rather than natural.


manganese

Pure metallic element having symbol Mn and atomic number 25; hard, brittle, silvery metal. Use also for this metal as processed and formed, usually in combination with other substances, to make various objects and materials.


Mankato stone

A compact, semi-crystalline magnesian limestone from Minnesota, ranging in color from buff, cream, yellow, gray, pink, or reddish buff. It is commonly used for building as well as for decoration.


maple (wood)

Wood of trees belonging to the genus Acer, light reddish brown in color, with small pores, distinct rings, and rays that show as fine dashes in quarter sawed wood. Maple wood is used for fine furniture, cabinetry, flooring, shoe lasts, and musical instruments.


marble (rock)

A metamorphic, hard, dense, crystalline stone primarily composed of calcium carbonate; it is limestone or dolomite that has been metamorphosed with heat and pressure. Pure calcite marble is white, but impurities produce a wide variety of coloring and patterns. It is finely grained and polishes to a smooth, high gloss. It is used primarily for statuary and buildings. Marble has been quarried from sites around the world since at least the 7th century BCE. The term can also refer more broadly to any crystallized carbonate rock, including true marble and certain types of limestone, that will take a polish and can be used for architectural and ornamental purposes.


marl

Calcareous clay containing up to 40% calcium carbonate.


marquees

Cantilevered or suspended roofs over the entrances to buildings, of metal or metal and glass; in the 19th and 20th centuries, common over the entrances to theaters, casinos, and hotels to advertise entertainment. For smaller, often ornamental, rooflike structures at entrances, use "canopies (structural elements)."


Mars brown (color)

A range of brownish colors resembling the color of the synthetic iron oxide pigment known as "Mars brown."


Masonite (TM)

A registered trademark for a type of hardboard building material first made in 1924 by William H. Mason. Masonite is a wet process fiberboard composed of fine wood fibers compressed into a dense, rigid sheet with heat. The fibers are held together by the natural binders from the pulp with no additional adhesive. Masonite boards do not bend or warp easily but the sheets are brittle and break under pressure.


masonry (building materials)

Building materials comprising cut, carved, shaped, or molded units of stone, ceramic brick or tile, concrete, glass, adobe, or other similar material.


masonry units

Refers generally to any naturally occurring or manufactured building units composed of concrete, glass, stone, or other material.


mastic (resin)

Gum exudation of small evergreens native to the Mediterranean countries, soluble in both alcohol and turpentine; used for artists' paint and coating lacquer. Mastic varnish becomes yellow and brittle with age. Mastic was used in 16th and 17th century recipes for oil-resin varnishes; in the 19th century, mastic was a popular clear, glossy spirit varnish for oil paintings and was also used as an additive in oil medium. By the 20th century, its use was superseded by dammar.


matting (roofing material)

Roof covering composed of woven material such as coir, bast, hemp, or grass.


meadows

Large open tracts of grassland, sometimes used for pasture.


medium-density fiberboard

Fiberboard that is typically made of wood fibers that are acquired by breaking down scrap remnants of hardwood or softwood; distinguished from low-density fiberboard and high-density fiberboard by density of fiber and strength.


membrane

Material in the form of a thin soft pliable sheet or layer.


mesh

Material in the form of threads or cords that surround the interstices of a net, netting, screen, or sieve, including any woven, knitted, or knotted material with an open texture and evenly spaced holes, including textiles and interlocking metal links. The size of a net or screen may refer to the spaces rather than to the threads that bound the spaces, for example, indicated by the number of openings per inch or another linear unit.


metal

Any of a large group of substances that typically show a characteristic luster, are good conductors of electricity and heat, are opaque, can be fused, and are usually malleable or ductile.


metal panels
No description is available for this term.

metallic paint

Paint in which the pigment is a metal.


metalwork (visual works)

Visual works that are the products of working any kind of metal, particularly metal objects of artistic merit.


metamorphic rock

Rocks that result from the alteration of pre-existing rocks in response to changing environmental conditions, such as variations in temperature, pressure, and mechanical stress, and the addition or subtraction of chemical components. The pre-existing rocks may be igneous, sedimentary, or other metamorphic rocks.


mica (mineral)

Group of monoclinic minerals with perfect basal cleavage.


micaceous sandstone

Sandstone containing mica.


Milford granite

A coarse biotite granite, quarried in Milford, Massachusetts, composed mostly of light pink feldspar with additions of gray quartz and dark, greenish-black flecks of a chloritic black mica. It is very strong, takes a high polish, and has a fine and close texture, making it one of the most desirable granites quarried in the U.S. for general building as well as decorative purposes.


millwork

Planed and patterned lumber for finish work in buildings, including items such as sash, doors, cornices, panelwork, and other items of interior or exterior trim. Does not include flooring, ceiling, or siding.


mineral

Naturally occurring inorganic element or compound having an orderly internal structure and characteristic chemical composition, crystal form, and physical properties; use also for synthetically derived equivalents.


mineral oil

A colorless, aliphatic hydrocarbon oil obtained from petroleum distilled at 330-360 degrees C.


modular brick

Bricks which can be laid to modular dimensions; bricks sized so that the brick plus the mortar joint will form a 4, 8 or 12 inch increment, or module.


mohair

Long, lustrous hair of the Angora goat, valued for its strength and excellent spinning qualities.


moist conifer and evergreen broad-leaved forests

Temperate forests of conifer and evergreen broad-leaved trees, located in areas having wet winters and dry summers; rainfall is concentrated in the winter months and winters are relatively mild.


molded brick

Brick molded to a selected shape before firing and subsequently used to make ornamental architectural details.


molding plaster

Calcined gypsum ground fine fine so as to bring out dteails ornamental trim, cornices, and cast work.


monkeypod (wood)

Wood of the species Samanea saman, of the legume family.


monoliths

Refers to a single large block of stone shaped into a pillar, column, sculpture or other item. For modern structural elements composed of cast concrete, use "concrete monolith."


mortar (filler)

A pasty building material that sets to form a hard, infusible solid. Most mortars are mixtures of lime, plaster of Paris, or cement with sand and water. It is used to fill the joints of brick and stone masonry and for other purposes.


mortise-and-tenon joints

Joints made when connecting two pieces of wood where a projecting tongue (tenon) of one piece is made to fit into the corresponding cutout (mortise) in the other piece.


mosaic (process)

A method of decorating surfaces with patterns or pictures composed of small, regularly-shaped pieces of colored durable material, such as stone or glass.


mosaic glass

Glass made with slices of colored canes which can be used as inlays for walls and furniture, fashioned into beads and various kinds of jewelry, or arranged in molds and fused together to form vessels. Distinguished from "millefiori glass" which is glass made with slices of colored canes embedded in clear molten glass, usually creating flowerlike designs.


mosaics (visual works)

Images or patterns composed of small, regularly shaped pieces of durable material, usually stone or colored glass. Distinguished from "opus sectile," which is composed of individually shaped pieces of durable material, usually stone or glass, which conform to the design or pattern.


mother of pearl

Hard, pearly, iridescent internal layer of various kinds of mollusk shell, extensively used for making small articles and inlays.


mud

Soil containing so much water that it is soft and at least semi-fluid.


mud mortar

Building material used for joining elements that is composed of an earth and water mixture. Mud mortar is prone to erosion, and is most effective in warm, dry climates.


mud-plaster

A mixture of various formulations used in vernacular architecture as a wall finish.


mullions

Slender, vertical, usually nonstructural bars or piers forming a division between doors, screens, or lights of windows; for the small members that divide glazing areas and support the panes or the verticals that separate the panels in panel doors, use "muntins."


mural painting (image-making)

The activity of composing and executing painted decorations or scenes that dominate a wall or ceiling surface.


mural paintings (visual works)

Painted decorations or scenes that dominate a wall (or ceiling) surface. For works in other media that dominate a wall (or ceiling), use the more general term "murals (any medium)".


murals (general, decorations on wall)

Refers to decorations in any medium that dominate a wall (or ceiling) surface; most often refers to works executed on the wall, but may also refer to works done separately and affixed to the wall. For paintings specifically, see "mural paintings."


muscovite (mica)

A colorless or pale brown mica; it has superior dielectric properties and is valued for radio capacitators.


Myrtales (order)

Order of flowering plants composed of 14 families, 380 genera, and about 11,000 species distributed throughout the tropics and warmer regions of the world.


myrtle (wood)

The wood of evergreen shrubs or small trees of the genus Myrtus.


nails (fasteners)

Slender and usually pointed and headed fasteners designed for impact insertion.


natural cement

Cement produced by taking finely pulverizing calcined argillaceous limestone and heating it to complete decarbonation, which is the process of removing carbon dioxide.


natural ventilation (systems)

Ventilation systems that depend on natural atmospheric conditions and the manual operation of building openings, such as windows, doors, and transoms.


Naugahyde (TM)

Brand of strong vinyl-coated cloth made to look like leather.


nautilus shell

The shell of the pearly nautilus, Nautilus macromphalus, native to the tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans, used to make decorative objects such as cups, salts, and jewelry, and as carving material.


neon

Inert gaseous element with symbol Ne and atomic number 10; used as the medium in some electric discharge lamps.


neon lamps

Lamps consisting of exhausted glass tubes filled with neon gas that is ionized and conducts an electric current through the tube.


neoprene

Synthetic rubber made by polymerization of chloroprene and characterized by superior resistance to oil, gasoline, sunlight, ozone, and heat, and by lower permeability to gas than rubber.


newsprint

Inexpensive, low quality paper made from wood pulp, of the type used chiefly for printing newspapers.


nickel (metal)

Pure metallic element having symbol Ni and atomic number 28; a silvery white metal with a yellowish cast, resistant to corrosion and to most acids except nitric. Use also for this metal as processed and formed, usually in combination with other substances, to make various objects and materials.


nickel silver

Alloy of copper, nickel, and zinc, the nickel serving to enhance color. Uses include operations that require ductility in the cold state, such as stamping, spinning, deep drawing, and for articles to be plated.


nogging

Masonry, usually brickwork or stone, used as nonstructural fill in the spaces between major wood wall members in timber construction.


Norway pine (wood)

Wood from the Pinus resinosa, found in North America.


Norway spruce (wood)

Wood of the Picea abies, native to northern Europe and used as a timber and ornamental tree.


Numidian marble

The color of this marble ranges from yellow, light brown, and pink to deep red. It originates not from Numidia proper, but from the mountains of Algeria and Mauritania.


nylon

Any of a variety of thermoplastic polymers originally developed as textile fibers and used in fabrics. They have a straight-chain polyamide structure and are largely heat-resistant.


Nyssa sylvatica (species)

Species of tree found in moist areas of the eastern U.S. from Maine south to the Gulf Coast and westward to Oklahoma. Its wood is light and soft, but tough. The black gum is sometimes grown as an ornamental, prized for brilliant scarlet autumnal foliage. The bark dye has good washfastness and fair lightfastness.


oak (wood)

Wood of trees belonging to the genus Quercus, of the beech family. It is a durable wood that has a distinctive coarse grain, used in cabinetry, flooring, paneling, musical instruments, ship interiors and moldings, panel painting, and sculptures.


oakum

Loosely twisted hemp or jute fiber impregnated with tar or a tar derivative and used in caulking seams, as of wooden ships, and packing joints, as of pipes.


oil paint (paint)

A paint made by grinding pigments with a drying oil such as linseed oil. After 1940 alkyd binders were often added to oil paint to provide faster drying times.


oilcloth

Textile waterproofed with oil; often woven cotton, jute, or hemp, treated with oil and pigment. Typically used as a waterproof covering.


Olea europaea (species)

Species of small evergreen tree native to coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean Basin, western Asia, northern Africa, and the northern Middle East. It has long been cultivated for its drupaceous fruit that is an important food and source of oil. The wood is resistant to decay; if the top dies back, a new trunk will often arise from the roots. The species may have arisen in northern tropical Africa, then spread to the Mediterranean Basin. It had been cultivated on Crete since 3,500 BCE; fossilized leaves of the genus date to 37,000 years before present. Sometimes divided into several subspecies.


onyx (mineral)

A variety of chacedony having parallel, alternating bands of chalcedony and opal. The bands are usually colored black and white or reddish and white. In ancient times, the stones were available in Egypt, Arabia, and India. Onyx was often used as a gemstone in the production of cameos and intaglios. Onyx is also used as an ornamental building stone and for decorative items such as table tops, lamp bases, and small boxes.


onyx marble

A compact variety of calcite that has dark layers of impurities and polishes to a high gloss, resembling onyx in appearance. It is typically used as a decorative or architectural material or for small ornamental objects.


oolitic limestone

Limestone containing many small, rounded particles, which are concentric layers of calcium carbonate deposits.


open-timbered roofs

Roofs in which the wooden structure is exposed to the rooms below.


organic material

Material containing carbon, including those derived from living organisms.


, ,