The Infamous “Rat Hole”

Rodent burrows on the north of Unit 2.

Rodent burrows on the north side of Unit 2.

Unit 2, my beloved unit, has come across quite a feature in the past few weeks. Not just a rodent burrow, but the beginnings of a rodent condominium. In a site like the one we are digging in, rodent burrows are not unusual, but they are incredibly frustrating. After Dr. Jocelyn Knauf’s lecture, I found myself reviewing the information we have learned in the past several weeks regarding context, and the effect the rodent burrow has on the interpretation of our unit.

According to “Artifacts and Active Voices: Material Culture as Social Discourse” by Mary Beaudry, Lauren J. Cook and Stephen A. Mrozowksi, in an archaeological context, the deposits of an urban area often result from rapid depositional episodes. These episodes can include many stratigraphic sediment layers, which can be missed if one is not careful. These layers can correspond with changes in household-level events such as changing waste-deposit systems or water/sewer management facilities.

Stratigraphic layers or features can be identified through their texture and color. To the untrained eye, they are sometimes difficult to discern, but under the careful watch of our TA’s, we have been fairly successful at identifying each layer. With the emergence of the rodent burrow, which cut through a separate feature as well as the rest of the unit (and continues outside of the unit), it has become more difficult to identify the stratigraphic layers.

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