Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Digging, also referred to as excavation, is the process of using some implement such as claws, hands, manual tools or heavy equipment, to remove material from a solid surface, usually soil, sand or rock on the surface of Earth. Digging is actually the combination of two processes, the first being the breaking or cutting of the surface, and the second being the removal and relocation of the material found there.[1] In a simple digging situation, this may be accomplished in a single motion, with the digging implement being used to break the surface and immediately fling the material away from the hole or other structure being dug.

Many kinds of animals engage in digging, either as part of

palaeontology and geology and burial
of the dead.

Digging by humans


A group of men digging for Kauri gum in New Zealand

There are a wide variety of reasons for which humans dig

Like other animals, humans dig in the ground to find food and water. Wood-lined

secular reasons.[8] Notably, burial of the dead prevents diseases associated with the presence of corpses, and prevents scavengers
and other predators from being attracted.

The earliest undisputed

Qafzeh, Israel. A variety of grave goods were present at the site, including the mandible of a wild boar in the arms of one of the skeletons.[9]

As human technology advanced, digging began to be used for agriculture, mining, and in earthworks, and new techniques and technologies were developed to suit these purposes.

Borrow pit

In construction and civil engineering, a borrow pit, also known as a sand box, is an area where material (usually soil, gravel or sand) has been dug for use at another location.[10] Borrow pits can be found close to many major construction projects. For example, soil might be excavated to fill an embankment for a highway, clay might be excavated for use in brick-making, gravel to be used for making concrete, etc.

In some cases, the borrow pits may become filled with

waste disposal

A regional variation of this is termed "barrow pit" in the western United States (especially the Rocky Mountains). The localism—sometimes pronounced "borrer pit"—describes the ditch along a roadway. These ditches were excavated to provide the fill to level and crown the roadway and subsequently provided drainage for the road.[11]

An excavation lake (also a flooded gravel pit) is an artificial lake, which usually has its origins in the excavation of gravel or sand for construction materials or in some other kind of surface mining. In many cases, the excavation holes are landscaped according to the land restoration required by law. Because the excavation reached a point below the water table, lakes form naturally. Less frequently, excavation lakes are intentionally made, especially as recreation areas.

In Germany the lakes are almost always used for fishing, since a fishery is created by law with every surface water. At some excavation lakes, beaches are added for swimming or other

water sports, in particular boating, water skiing or windsurfing. To support these uses, large parking lots, changing areas, and eating areas are also set up. In some cases, the excavation lake serves as a nature reserve, as in the case of the lakes in the Attenborough Nature Reserve

Panorama of a "young" excavation lake in the Fürstenfeldbruck district
of Germany.

Methods of digging

Although humans are capable of digging in sand and soil using their bare hands, digging is often more easily accomplished with tools. The most basic tool for digging is the shovel.[1] In neolithic times and earlier, a large animal's scapula (shoulder blade) was often used as a crude shovel.[12] In modern times, shovels are typically made of metal, with a wooden handle. Because digging is a cutting process, particularly where the soil being dug contains plant roots, digging is aided by the shovel being sharpened.[13]

Historically, manual shoveling (often in combination with picking) was the chief means of excavation in construction, mining, and quarrying, and digging projects employed large numbers of people. After the Industrial Revolution, mechanization via steam shovels and later hydraulic equipment (excavators such as backhoes and loaders) gradually replaced most manual shoveling; however, individual homeowners still often find reasons to engage in manual digging during smaller-scale projects around the home.[1] Different methods of digging can also result in different excavation depth and force, potentially risking exposure or damage to subsurface pipelines and wiring. In the United States and Canada, homeowners and contractors are required to notify a utility-run call center before digging to ensure they do not strike buried utilities and infrastructure.[14]

Soil suitability

The excavatability of an earth (rock and

geotechnical engineer

The rippability of an earth (

geophysicist utilizing the seismic refraction equipment (see refraction),.[16][17] Rippability studies can involve the performance of seismic refraction traverses, the drilling of borings
with an air percussion drill rig, the excavation of test trenches with a bulldozer with rippers or backhoe, and by geologic mapping.


Cave-in of an excavation is the detachment of the mass of soil in the side of the trench and its displacement into the hole, which represents a hazard to the person inside.[18][19] Cave-ins are considered the largest risk when working within trenches.[20][21][22] Cave-ins can be caused by a combination of pressure on soil, vibration from equipment, and excessive loads. Several techniques are used to minimize the likelihood of cave-ins, including sloping, shoring and shielding.[23]

Types of digging


  1. ^ a b c Carl Dreher, "The Right Way to Dig", Popular Science (March 1957), p. 179.
  2. ^ Zen Faulkes, "Morphological Adaptations for Digging and Burrowing" (2013), p. 276-295.
  3. ^ R.A. Archer, "Spontaneous Constructions and Primitive Activities of Children Analogous to Those of Primitive Man", in Karl M. Dallenbach, Madison Bentley, Edwin Garrigues Boring, eds., The American Journal of Psychology (1910), p. 119.
  4. PMID 23284685
  5. .
  6. ^ Wilford, John Noble (December 16, 2013). "Neanderthals and the Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
  7. ^ Chris Scarre, The Human Past
  8. ^ "Evolving in their graves: early burials hold clues to human origins - research of burial rituals of Neanderthals". Findarticles.com. 2001-12-15. Retrieved 2011-03-25.
  9. . Retrieved 2011-03-25.
  10. ^ Design of a monitoring protocol/plan for sand borrow areas, Dredging News Online, 7 January 2000
  11. ^ Cassidy, Frederic Gomes, and Joan Houston Hall (eds). (2002) Dictionary of American Regional English. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
  12. ^ Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology, p. 304.
  13. ^ David Tracey, "How to dig a hole", Urban Agriculture: Ideas and Designs for the New Food Revolution (2011), p. 119.
  14. ^ "Call811 | Know what's below. Call before you dig". Call 811. Retrieved 2022-07-28.
  15. ^ W. Ed Wightman, Frank Jalinoos, Philip Sirles, and Kanaan Hanna (2003). "6.2.3 Determining the Rippability of Rocks". Application of Geophysical Methods to Highway Related Problems. Federal Highway Administration, Central Federal Lands Highway Div. pp. 318–322.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)(accessed 17-Sep-2009)
  16. S2CID 129440512
  17. .
  18. ^ "Trenching and Excavation Policy » Environmental Health & Safety » University of Florida". www.ehs.ufl.edu. Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  19. ^ Carl O., Morgan. Excavation Safety: A Guide to OSHA Compliance and Injury Prevention. Government Institutes. p. 10.
  20. ^ "Boonton company admits criminal fault in deaths of two workers in trench collapse". dailyrecord.com. Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  21. ^ "Alabama construction company penalty for trenching hazard affirmed - Business Insurance". businessinsurance.com. Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  22. ^ "Trenching and Excavation Safety". www.osha.gov. Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  23. ^ Labour, Government of Ontario, Ministry of. "Excavation Hazards (Fact Sheet)". www.labour.gov.on.ca. Retrieved 20 January 2018.

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