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SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: post mold, post hole, post-pipe, post-pit
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: A hole dug or bored into the ground for holding an upright post. Once the post is installed, the remaining area of posthole is backfilled with earth and sometimes stronger packing material like stone. To archaeologists, postholes are the outline of a deteriorated post, indicating the former location of some structure. Even when the wood has decayed and the hole silted up, or the post has been extracted, the existence of a posthole can be recognized by differences between the color and texture of its fill and those of the earth into which it was dug. A pattern of postholes may provide the only evidence for the size and shape of houses and other wooden structures. They can reveal that a settlement was surrounded by a palisade and presumably had enemies.

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