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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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."

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.

umber (pigment)

A natural brown clay earth pigment that contains iron and manganese oxides, silica, alumina, and lime; tending to be less orange-red than sienna. The term refers to the region of Umbria, Italy, although the pigment is found elsewhere in the world, notably on Cyprus. It has been used as a pigment since prehistoric times.

Vaccinium (genus)

Genus containing around 450 species of shrubs or dwarf shrubs,, many of which produce edible berries.

variegated marble

Marble that is streaked or marked with a different color or colors.


A solution of a resin in a volatile solvent or a drying oil, which when spread out in a thin film, dries and hardens by evaporation of the volatile solvent, or by the oxidation of the oil, or both; applied as a protective coating or to enhance the appearance of the surface underneath.


Plants collectively, usually referring to plants or vegetal growths in a defined area. For the kingdom of plants, use "Plantae (kingdom)."

velvet (fabric weave)

Warp pile weave, typically silk, with a short, soft dense pile produced by a supplementary warp that is raised in loops above the surface of the textile through the introduction of rods during the weaving; the loops may be cut or left uncut.

veneer (material)

Material in the form of thin sheets that is intended to be used for a decorative purpose. Veneer is usually of wood, but also occasionally ivory, tortoiseshell, or brass, often used to cover the surface of furniture or another object constructed of coarser and cheaper wood.

veneered walls

Walls with a masonry face or revetment that is attached, but not bonded, to the body of the wall and does not exert a common reaction under load. Walls with a masonry face or revetment that is attached, but not bonded, to the body of the wall and does not exert a common reaction under load.

Venetian glass

Refers to distinctive glass made in Venice, Italy. It can refer to early glass made from about 450 CE when glass-makers from Aquileia fled there and were soon joined by others from Byzantium. In addition, the term is particularly used to refer to glass made on the Venetian island of Murano from before 1292 to the present day. It is generally a sodiac type of glass; soda glass is light in weight and highly ductile. Venetian glass incorporates a number of styles and techniques although Venetian glass-makers particularly excelled in the making of colored glass, agate glass, opaque white glass (lattimo), cristallo, filigrana, and millefiori. Engraving is rarely found while enameling and gilding are common, particularly in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century specimens. In order to protect their profits and the secrets of Venetian glass, the Venetians confined glassmakers under pain of death to the island of Murano; however, the techniques were eventually imitated in "Altare glass" and "façon de Venise." For glass made exclusively on Murano, see "Murano glass."

Venetian red (pigment)

A permanent, reddish brown pigment that was originally prepared from a natural red ocher, but since the 18th century has been manufactured by calcining ferrous sulfate (copperas) with lime or calcium carbonate in a ratio of around 15-40% ferric oxide and 60-80% calcium sulfate. It is used in oil paints, house paints, and as a paper colorant.

verd antique

A light or dark green massive serpentinite, commonly with veinlets of calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate. It is capable of being polished and is commercially considered a marble; it is also considered to be among the highest-quality serpentinites.

verdigris (pigment)

Pigment composed of basic copper acetate and having a dark bluish-green color. Verdigris has been manufactured since ancient times by placing copper plates over vats of fermenting grape skins; the acetic acid quickly reacts to form basic copper acetate. When used directly as a pigment, it discolors from green to black in oil paints, fades in watercolor paints, and reacts with a paper support. It is used to make copper resinate, as a drier for linseed oil, to dye fabrics, and as a colorant and fungicide in antifouling paints.

Vermont white statuary marble

A fine-grained white marble from Vermont that is highly valued by sculptors; it may contain bluish-gray veins or clouds.

vernacular architecture

Architecture built of local materials to suit particular local needs, usually of unknown authorship and making little reference to the chief styles or theories of architecture.

vigas (crossbeams)

Primary roof beams in Native American and Spanish American adobe construction; usually rough-hewn logs of fir or pine, and often left projecting beyond the exterior wall plane.


Trailing or twining plants, whose stems require support.


Generic term for materials derived from vinyl chloride, vinyl acetate, or vinylidene chloride. Commonly used with reference to all polymers and copolymers of which vinyl chloride is a constituent. Use more precise terminology for known materials such as "polyvinyl chloride" or "polyvinyl acetate."

Virginia greenstone

Basalt that has chemically changed over time to become a type of soapstone that is blackish-green when cracked open; it is found in the Blue Ridge and Piedmont regions of Virginia.

Vitrolite (TM)

Refers to thick homogeneous opaque structural glass used especially for ornamental finish on surfaces exposed to the weather.

wall tile (tile)

Tile, often glazed, designed to be used as a facing on a wall.


Building board, usually made of wood pulp, gypsum, or plastic, and used for surfacing walls and ceilings.


Papers or paperlike materials, often decorative in nature, made primarily for attachment to walls and ceilings but sometimes applied to other surfaces.

walnut (wood)

Wood of several trees belonging to the genus Juglans, ranging in color from grey-brown to purple brown, used in making cabinetwork, veneer, butts and rifle stocks.

water (inorganic material)

A liquid made up of molecules of hydrogen and oxygen (HO2). When pure, it is colorless, tasteless, and odorless. It exists in gaseous, liquid, and solid forms; it is liquid at room temperature. It is the liquid of which seas, lakes, and rivers are composed, and which falls as rain. Water is one of the most plentiful and essential of compounds. It is vital to life, participating in virtually every process that occurs in plants and animals. One of its most important properties is its ability to dissolve many other substances. The versatility of water as a solvent is essential to living organisms. The term "water" is typically used to refer to the liquid form of this compound; for the solid or gaseous forms, use "ice" or "water vapor."

water tables

Courses of stone projecting beyond the face of a wall to guide water away from the face of the wall. Courses of stone projecting beyond the face of a wall to guide water away from the face of the wall.

water-struck brick

Brick formed in molds that have been watered in order to prevent the brick from sticking; brick formed in the slop molding method.

waterfalls (natural bodies of water)

Perpendicular or very steep descents of the water of a stream. May be used for artificial waterfalls only if highly naturalistic in form and context; otherwise prefer "cascades" or "fountains."

wattle (building materials)

A framework of interwoven rods, poles, or branches; used with daub as a building material.

wattle and daub

Construction consisting of upright posts or stakes interwoven with twigs or tree branches and plastered with a mixture of clay and straw.

welded wire fabric

Designates heavy metal wire welded together in a grid pattern and used as reinforcing in concrete slabs.

western hemlock (wood)

Wood of the Tsuga heterophylla, commonly found from Alaska to northern California.

western red cedar (wood)

Wood of the Thuja plicata species, having a reddish to dull brown heartwood with a faint, sweetish odor. The wood is used for shingles, boat making, and other purposes for which resistance to moisture, decay, and insect damage is important.

wet collodion process

Photographic process that uses a collodion binder which must be coated on the support, exposed, and developed before the collodion has become dry. A silver halide is the light-sensitive agent, and the process may be used to produce positives or negatives.

white cedar (wood)

General term referring to wood from several species, including Chamaecyparis thyoides (Atlantic White Cypress), Cupressus lusitanica (Mexican White Cedar), and Thuja occidentalis (Eastern Arborvitae).

white marble

Marble with a mineral composition resulting in a predominantly white color.

white metal

Alloy predominantly of tin, usually of 92% tin and 8% antimony, having a white or silvery appearance.

white oak (general, plants)

General term for types of oaks native to Europe, Asia, north Africa, and North America, characterized by having a short acorn that matures in six months, is sweet or slightly bitter, ahd the inside of the acorn shell hairless.

white oak (wood)

In the lumber trade, a general term for wood of many species of oak belonging to a subgroup of oak trees, including Q. alba and others, all characterized by having acorns that mature in six months, are sweet or slightly bitter, and have a hairless inside shell. Trees are native to Europe, Asia, north Africa, and North America.

white pine (wood)

Pale, soft wood from any of many species of North American pines, generally native to eastern and central parts of the continent.

whitewash (water-base paint)

Paint having the principal ingredients water and lime paste; one of the oldest types of paint, used for both exterior and interior surfaces.


Woven reed, rattan, twigs, or other material, especially used to construct furniture.

willow (wood)

Wood of trees of the genus Salix. The wood is tough and bends easily without splitting. In ancient Egypt, willow was used for handles, poles, bowls, boats, and domestic items. Willow has been used for Italian panel paintings and Gothic sculptures in southern Germany. Since willow wood has a low mineral content, it was favored for the production of charcoal. Other uses have included basketry, wickerwork, small turned pieces, hoops, crates, excelsior, cricket bats, artificial limbs, and agricultural implements.


Filament or slender rod of drawn metal.

wire-cut brick

Brick cut to size by a wire before firing.

No description is available for this term.

wood (plant material)

The principal tissue of trees and other plants that provides both strength and a means of conducting nutrients. Wood is one of the most versatile materials known.

wood board

Timber sawn into thin pieces, and having considerable extent of surface on two sides, with the other two sides being narrow. Usually reserved for rectangular pieces having much greater length than breadth.

wood preservative

Any of various chemical treatments added to cut wood products in order to minimize insect and fungal infestations. Wood preservatives are typically applied by spraying, brushing, immersion or pressure treatments. Some of these biocide materials may be toxic to humans. Examples are tar oils (creosote, anthracene oil, chlorinated naphthalenes), copper naphthenate, zinc naphthenate, borates, sodium fluoride, and copper chromated arsenate.


The art of fashioning or ornamenting objects of wood by cutting with a sharp implement.

woodwork (general works)

General term for visual works, parts of works, interior fittings of architecture, or other works made of wood. Examples include moldings and staircases, cabinets and furniture, and wooden sculptures or toys.

woody plants

Term used to describe trees, shubs, and vines; plants that have lignified secondary xylem in their stems. Term used to describe trees, shubs, and vines; plants that have lignified secondary xylem in their stems.

worked lumber

Lumber that in addition to being dressed has been matched, shiplapped, or patterned.

wrought iron (iron alloy)

Iron alloy of fibrous nature made by melting white cast iron, passing an oxidizing flame over it, and rolling it into a mass; valued for its corrosion resistance and ductility. When describing objects produced or shaped by beating with a hammer, use "wrought."

yard lumber

Lumber up to 5 inches thick intended for general building construction.

yellow cypress (wood)

Wood of the Chamaecyparis nootkatensis tree, ranging from Alaska to Oregon. Timber is pale yellow in color and is prized for joinery, doors, window frames, greenhouses, shingles, and cabinet work.

yellow marble

Marble that is predominantly yellow in color.

yellow pine (wood, general)

General term for wood from any of several pines. In America, it refers to wood of several closely related species of North American pine with yellow tinted wood. In Great Britain, the term is used in the timber trade to refer to the wood of several additional pines as well.

yew (wood)

Wood of trees of the genus Taxus.

zebra wood (wood)

General term for wood from any of several species of tree or shrub having ornamentally striped wood used by cabinet-makers.


Pure metallic element having symbol Zn and atomic number 30; a bluish white crystalline metal. Use also for this metal as processed and formed, usually in combination with other substances, to make various objects and materials.

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