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  • Mysteries of vernacular:

  • Sarcophagus,

  • a stone coffin typically adorned

  • with decorative carvings or inscriptions.

  • The history of the word sarcophagus

  • is so skin-crawlingly grotesque,

  • it seems to come right out

  • of a low-budget horror film.

  • Rather than having a B-movie origin, however,

  • its roots can be traced back to the early Roman Empire

  • where the Greek word sarkophagus

  • was used to describe the limestone

  • that a coffin was made of,

  • not the coffin itself.

  • According to the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder,

  • citizens of the Empire believed

  • that limestone from a quarry near Troy

  • would dissolve flesh.

  • For this reason, it was quite desireable

  • in the construction of coffins.

  • Though it's unclear if the belief was widespread

  • or even accurately reported by Pliny,

  • what is certain is that sarkophagus

  • came from the Greek words sark,

  • meaning flesh,

  • and phagein,

  • a verb meaning to eat.

  • From flesh-eating stone

  • to stone coffin,

  • it's a fitting etymology

  • for the final resting place of the deceased.

Mysteries of vernacular:

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B2 TED-Ed coffin flesh stone limestone roman

【TED-Ed】Mysteries of vernacular: Sarcophagus - Jessica Oreck and Rachael Teel

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    Bing-Je posted on 2013/12/13
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