Monday, February 20, 2006

Welcome UK Telegraph Crossword Society!

For those of you still trying to solve this past week end's Telegraph crossword, the other word for terra sigillata is Samian ware.

According to the Wikipedia entry,

"Samian ware is a kind of bright red Roman pottery also known as terra sigillata. It is similar to the earlier Arretine ware and both types are attempts to copy more expensive metal originals. Because of this they display skeuomorphic characteristics. It was first made during the first century AD and production ceased around the mid third century.

Samian has nothing to do with the island of Samos but was once thought to have originated there, and the name has stuck, at least in British usage. It may also be derived from the Latin verb samiare, to polish. It can be identified from its pinkish or orange fabric and a distinctive smooth red surface created by dipping the unfired pot in slip before putting it in the kiln."

For regular readers looking for some scientific coverage of natural product drugs and botanical medicines, you'll see that my SiteMeter had me happily sidetracked this weekend learning all about the geography of the United Kingdom. Over 400 visits from the UK, all searching for 'terra sigillata' since 8 am GMT on Saturday, have raised my cumulative British country share from under 5% to well over 20%.

Turns out that terra sigillata was the clue for the Saturday Daily Telegraph crossword and we've been doing well enough here to get on the first or second pages of Google search results. (Makes me think it might be time to start accepting AdSense adverts for ceramic arts supplies).

Of course, "superb weblog for objective information and commentary on natural product drugs and botanical dietary supplements," was too long to be the right answer. So, with a little searching and charming comments from British readers, we learned that Samian ware is another name for the bright red glaze on ancient pottery.

Thank you, wise British readers, for coming over to take a look at our site. Botanical medicines and homoeopathics are very widely used in the UK and I'd be grateful for any input you might have on your own personal experiences, from, "it's all crap," to, "I have no idea how homoeopathy could possibly work, but it does for me." I also have deep respect for the British pharmacology community since 1988 Nobel laureate, Sir James Black, discoverer/designer of cimetidine and propranolol, spoke at my university commencement proceedings in 1985.

Moreover, this experience been a great geography and history lesson for me to teach our 3-year-old girl since my wife is long-descended from English and Scottish roots, with each side of her family moving to the southern US in the 1680s. A great many of our town and state names, north and south, are copied from the Motherland and we hope to travel over once she is of school age to teach her about her heritage. Not to mention that her Dad has a penchant for fine British ales!

I've also had some great comments on the earlier post, particularly from "crazy grannie" and others who had never heard of blogs before. You can see this in the thread of my previous post but I wanted to reproduce this lovely comment here:

"Abel - I think I just messed up a blog - have only just discovered what they are thanks to you and a grandson hastily summoned over internet to check you're not a VIRUS whatever that is - he says OK. So will try again - just to say thank you SO much as I have now completed my GK crossword and like all the others live in hope of £2oo - not a lot you may think but it is to me and it is the thrill of the hunt! The name Abel Pharmboy will ever be dear to me as providing me with assistance in timewasting but so amusing hobby and in teaching me yet another weird modern activity. From a new blogger Cheers!!as i raise a triumphant glass of Amontillado in your honour!!"

And cheers to you, anonymous commenter, as I raise my glass of Graham's LBV Port in return!


At Tue Feb 21, 12:56:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Makes me think it might be time to start accepting AdSense adverts for ceramic arts supplies).
You may want to add crosswords to that list too!


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