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Geography word of the week: Palimpsest

  • Dec 01, 2015
  • 108 words
  • 1 minutes
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While palimpsest often refers to a writing material on which the original script has been erased (though not completely) and written over again, in geography, the word means a place or landscape in which something new is superimposed over traces of something preceding it.

Latin, Greek; 1655-65
From palímps?stos, meaning ‘again rubbed smooth’

In west Cornwall, England, the weathered granite bedrock gives the area its classic rough-hewn look. It also birthed a booming tin mining business. This interplay between human activity and the physical terrain manifests a palimpsest landscape that evokes layers of cultural identity and geological history.


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