February 5, 2014

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I was interested to see the report of head binding in France during the Dark Ages.  (Nikhil Swaminathan ARCHAEOLOGY vol. 67 no. 2 March/April 2014 page 18) The article says that the skull in question dates to the 5th century A. D. or the early Middle Ages.  My impulse is to say that such a date is a tad early for the Middle Ages, but who knows?  People keep changing the names of things.  My pet peeve is “starfish,” meaning something that is a bit like a fish in that it lives in water and resembles a representation of a star but is neither, to “sea star,” which means a star that is found in the sea; it is certainly not a star, nor does it swim freely in the sea but is found on tidal flats, shallow water or near thermal vents.

Of course a word you know is thing of value; your income in dollars is not too different from the size of your vocabulary, and giving a 10% interest rate (not unfair for an investment that is not liquid and has only a limited life, namely your own) a word is worth $10.  If a hundred million people know the word then destroying that word has a social cost of a billion dollars.  It reminds me of the government being able to take money away from you by inflating the currency, or more painfully a company applying an “update” to your computer that renders a previously splendid printer or scanner inoperative.  So it would take a brave man to say, “No that’s really the beginning of the Dark Ages.” 

Anyway, the location of the skull is not too far from the influence of Attila, compared to how far he traveled, and the time seems right. 

M. Linton Herbert

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