If you're trying to dig up a fort from the Middle Ages, and you want a little help narrowing your search for buildings underground, who you gonna call? Why not a mole?
Archaeologists with Denmark's Viborg Museum have done just that, using moles at a dig site south of Viborg. The little burrowers leave their telltale hills behind, and the scientists then sift through them to see if their furry helpers brought up any pottery, bricks or other artifacts.
When the museum first applied to Danish cultural authorities for the okay to use moles at the site, the officials thought it must be a joke, the Copenhagen Post reported. But soon they realized that not only was the museum serious, but that the idea was also a novel way to help dig a historic site while lessening the risk of damage to the ruins.
"It's simple, but it works," Viborg Museum archaeologist Jesper Hjermind told the Post. He explained that whenever the number of artifacts in a set of mole hills increases, a building is likely close by, lurking beneath the earth. Plugging the finds into a database then helps the team narrow down the location of the potential building.
Hjermind calls the unusual method "moleology" and tells the Copenhagen Post: "The huge reward is that we haven't destroyed anything at the historical mounds in order to get a lot of important information."
via the Copenhagen Post, hat tip BBC News