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Necropolis

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Necropolis

Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Jul 31, 2014 10:42 pm

• necropolis •


Pronunciation: nê-krah-pê-lês • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A large cemetery in or near a city. 2. An ancient or prehistoric burial ground, especially one with large, elaborate tombs.

Notes: The common English words for a burial ground are graveyard or cemetery. An especially large or ancient cemetery is a necropolis. The meaning of the adjective accompanying this word, necropolitan, has expanded from "concerning necropolises" to "mournful, funereal". We find many words in English containing the first constituent of this Greek compound: necropsy "autopsy of an animal", necrophilia "love for dead things", necrosis "death of tissue", necrolatry "worship of the dead".

In Play: The contemporary sense of today's Good Word generally refers to a special cemetery of some sort, either large or otherwise important: "Bernard wasn't buried in a cemetery, but in a necropolis near Los Angeles filled with the bodies of the rich and famous." However, this word is most often used in reference to a very old, usually abandoned cemetery: "Mary Chase finally discovered Aztec gold in an unexplored necropolis in Mexico."

Word History: Today's word was a Greek compound made out of nekros "dead" + polis "city", in other words, "city of the dead". Greek inherited the root of nekros from Proto-Indo-European nek- "dead, death", which appears in several borrowed English words. Innocuous and innocent, negatives of nocuous and nocent, both meaning "harmful". An unlikely word coming across the millennia to English is nectar from Greek nektar "drink of the gods". The Greek word was made up of PIE words nek- "death" + ter- "to overcome", since the drink of gods could help the drinker overcome death. (Let's all raise a glass of nectar to Jackie Strauss, wishing her a long life in which to continue sending us excellent Good Words like today's.)
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Re: Nekropolis

Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Aug 01, 2014 12:37 pm

Underneath St. Peter's Basilica in Rome is an interesting
place. We have one near here fenced in inside a state park.
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Re: Nekropolis

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Aug 02, 2014 12:00 am

I read a lot of archaelogy, and the word comes up often in reports of their digs.
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Re: Necropolis

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sat Aug 02, 2014 12:08 pm

Agreed, I receive an archaeology mag and
it comes up very, very often.
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Re: Necropolis

Postby bnjtokyo » Mon Aug 04, 2014 2:38 am

"Mary Chase finally discovered Aztec gold in an unexplored necropolis in Yucatan."

That would be a good trick: The Aztec Empire did not include the Yucatan and the Mayan cultures that flourished in the Yucatan predated the Aztec culture in the central Mexican highlands.
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Re: Necropolis

Postby saparris » Mon Aug 04, 2014 2:18 pm

Probably wasn't even real gold.
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Re: Necropolis

Postby LukeJavan8 » Tue Aug 05, 2014 12:35 pm

I wonder if the Conquistadores cared or even knew.
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Re: Necropolis

Postby gkovac » Wed Aug 06, 2014 10:49 am

In Queens, on the drive from LaGuardia into the city, you pass miles of cemeteries, unique in the American landscape. It always fascinated me, the density of the grave sites, the diversity of monuments, the centuries of New Yorkers eternally arranged in grids not unlike the crowded neighborhoods of the living. Dozens of cemeteries side by side, but each containing family groups organized by religion or ethnicity. I never lived in New York, but I know that my immigrant grandparents and other relatives are earthed in one of those cemeteries. Two weeks ago I visited another of those cemeteries to bury a relative on my wife's side of the family. The continuities and juxtaposition of the city of the passed and the city of the living are, to me, strangely comforting. "Necropolis" is the word that often occurs to me--cemetery seems too limiting for this strange, amazing and deeply human landscape.
George Kovac..... "The messy layers of human experience get pulled together, and sometimes ordered, by words." Colum McCann “But Always Meeting Ourselves” New York Times, June 15, 2009
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Re: Necropolis

Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Aug 06, 2014 11:28 am

It must be quite a sight. I've never heard that before, and
one does not see it in TV or movies.
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