The role of armadillos in the movement of archaeological materials: An experimental approach


  • Astolfo G. Mello Araujo,

    1. Laboratório de Estudos Evolutivos Humanos, Instituto de Biociências da Universidade de São Paulo, SP CEP 05508-900, Brazil
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  • José Carlos Marcelino

    1. Departamento do Patrimônio Histórico, Município de São Paulo, Praça Coronel Fernando Prestes 152, SP CEP 01124-060, Brazil
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Armadillos are medium-sized animals whose burrowing behavior can be significant in archaeological settings ranging from South America to the central United States. Although archaeologists are well aware that these animals can move archaeological materials across stratigraphic layers, few data are available about the magnitude of mixing, number of burrows per individual, dimension of burrows, and their impact on archaeological sites. This paper addresses the problem from an experimental perspective. Specifically, we monitored the action of the yellow armadillo (Euphractus sexcintus) in translocating cultural materials. Our results suggest that: (1) the vertical movement of artifacts has no preferential direction; (2) cultural horizons at least 20 cm apart can be mixed; (3) the animal's activity leaves some distinct traces that can be recognized during an excavation; and (4) there is no significant correlation between size, shape, or weight of artifacts and amount of displacement. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.