added by archaeologs [Latin: ‘a mine’]. Latin military term, usually an area of excavation by a besieging force beneath a fortification wall with the aim of undermining the structure and/or gaining access. The digging soldiers (cunicu-larii) would normally be protected by various structures of wooden posts, shields, arrangements of chariots etc, variously called testudo (tortoise) and vinea (vine). Countermeasures by the defenders, apart from building very massive walls with very deep foundations, included laying a bronze shield on the ground to track vibrations, digging counter-mines, and smoking out the diggers.
The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983