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Megalith
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Megalith and Megalithic : Origin of the TermsEdit


mega-, lith- Indo-European roots

Megalith and megalithic are compound words (mega-lith) formed from the hypothetical Indo-European *meg- (great, large, Greek μέγαs) plus Greek λίθος (stone). See also American Heritage Dictionary : Indo-European Roots Index.

According to the French Ministry of Culture, writing in its web pages about Great Archaeological Sites (in English), the term megalithic was first used in the year 1839. It was only in 1853 that the term megalith was used as a back formation from megalithic. The French Ministry of Culture writes:

"The word "megalithic" was first used in 1839 by the Reverend HERBERT, an English scholar.... In France, the word started to be commonly used around 1860 (its use was ratified by the 1867 International Anthropology Congress, in Paris)....

The word "megalithic" refers either to:

[1]building techniques using "large stones" (the original meaning), or to
[2]groups of large ritual monuments dating back to prehistory, even when only some of the structures are actually megaliths (derived meaning)....

'Megalithic' monuments are ... found all over the world."

In common usage, a megalith is generally understood to be a large stone erected by ancient prehistoric man in the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age as a type of monument or marker whose precise purpose is disputed. One such megalith, e.g. a menhir, or a group of megaliths, e.g. a dolmen or a stone circle, separately or together with other features, such as tumuli or barrows, can form a megalithic site.

Other Megalithic TerminologyEdit

Other important megalithic terms are:

Alignments
Anthropomorphism
Barrow
Boundary Stone
Cairn
Capstone
Cave Painting
Cromlech
Cup Marks viz. cupmarks
Cursus
Dolmen
Earthwork
Gallery Grave
Henge
Lintel
Megalithic Chamber
Megalithic Monument
Megalithic Temple
Menhir
Monument
Mound
Passage Grave
Orthostat
Petroglyph
Post and Lintel
Quoit
Rock
Rock Art
Rock Drawings
Sarsen
Standing Stone
Stone
Stone Circle
Stone Row
Stone Ship
Stone Tomb
Taula
Tholos
Trilithon
Tumulus

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