Ταιξαλοι

Attested:  Ptolemy 2,3,5  Ταιζαλων (or Ταιζαλον) ακρον;  Ptolemy 2,3,15  Ταιξαλοι people

Where:  The ακρον may be the eastern tip of Aberdeenshire, near Peterhead at NK140458, or the northern tip at Kinnairds Head NJ998675.  Ptolemy assigned one πολις to the Ταιξαλοι: Δηουανα.

Name Origin:  Much discussed.  Rivet & Smith set out the issues well.  X seems slightly more likely to be correct in the name than Z.  A good parallel may be the island of Texel, the southernmost Frisian island, off the coast of the Netherlands, whose name is explained here as from a Germanic word for ‘right’ or ‘south’.  Texel's pronunciation in Frisian even shows the HS->KS->SS change seen in Ταιξαλοι.  Another parallel is the Taifali Germanic or Sarmatian people, first recorded around AD 250 in the Balkans.  Words for ‘on the right hand’ were pan-European, including taihswo in the Gothic Bible, Latin dexter, Irish dess, etc.  The -ali part may just be a banal adjectival ending.

Notes:  Other parallels to consider include PIE *teks- ‘to weave’, which is the root of many words concerned with building with organic materials: textiles, wattle and daub, fish traps, etc, and possibly in the Tectosages ‘cloak weavers?’ tribe in Galatia.  Or the word for ‘badger’, seen in modern dachshund, which contributed to early names, both personal (Taximagulus, Tasciovanus, etc), and tribal (Tasgoduni, Τασκοδρουγιται).  And Latin taxus ‘yew’ provided the best wood for making longbows.  Aberdeenshire is notable for its arable agriculture and for its remarkable number of stone circles.  ‘On the right’ might mean south of the Moray Firth, or on the right of Scotland.  For other names that may involve a notion of right or left see decha and mancunio.

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Last edited 7 January 2020     to main Menu