Sunday, 15 February 2009

GARP in Publications

Julian Evan-Hart has recently had an illustrated GARP related article published in the current issue of Treasure Hunting magazine.

This is an enthralling account of some of the finds and other activities of the Great Arab Revolt Project 2008 Season, which took place in Jordan in November last year.

In his usual entertaining and enthusiastic style Jules has managed to capture the excitement and variety of the trip, and he eloquently describes how it melds the technologies of metal detecting and internet research together with the academic aims of the project. It is a thoroughly good read and highly recommended. Also as can be seen below three rogues appear on the cover of the magazine, which is the March issue and is in the shops now. (Available in larger branches of W.H. Smiths)

Click picture for larger image

Also about to be published is the latest issue of Current World Archaeology which will include a GARP article and extracts from this years blog.
CWA - "the UK's no 1 world archaeology magazine" - (ok the UK's only world archaeology magazine) - is available in Foyles/Borders/by subscription - next issue is out late March.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Home again

All now home or onward travelling, thinking about the sand and the desert experiences. Here's another selection of images from this year's season.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Day 13 – All quiet on the Eastern Front

After two weeks in the desert, the team was withdrawn from the line for well deserved leave, taken in Aqaba and Wadi Rum.

Building on the great successes of the two previous seasons, the 2008 fieldwork has confirmed the extraordinary extent and intensity of the Ottoman military response to the Arab insurgence. But, in addition, we are now seeing details and nuances which until now have escaped us. A mass of micro debris representing the Ottoman occupation – everything from grape-pips to shoulder pips, has been recovered this season, giving us unparalleled insight into everyday life the Ottoman army. In the landscape we have seen bread ovens, latrines and mule feeding troughs. All in all, a fantastic season.

Some pictures of the work, (and play) of the GARP group this season.

All is not over yet. We intend to flesh out some parts of this blog with further information and images over the coming weeks. And there is of course all of the vital follow-up work which begins in earnest once we get home. And then there is next year - already most of us are thinking about it and can't wait to return.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Day 12 - Last days

It was appropriate that today was chosen by the BBC to film the dig for a new documentary on Lawrence of Arabia and his legacy – this being our last day on site and a time for summing up. The BBC were interested in how Lawrence is viewed in Jordan today and in the motivation of a team of British archaeologists investigating Lawrence’s war in the Middle East – not least in the context of contemporary conflict between Western powers and guerrilla resistance in Afghanistan and Iraq.

What then have we learned about the Great Arab Revolt in the last two weeks? Our researchers have seen dozens of new Ottoman military sites and hundreds of new Ottoman army tent rings, making the scale of the militarisation of the landscape even more spectacular than that seen in previous years.

Our estimate of the numbers of men tie down defending the Hijaz railway rises steadily. The military threat of the insurgency becomes ever more apparent.

Among those sites, it is now clear that the Batn Al Ghul escarpment was especially heavily garrisoned and defended, making it possibly the biggest military base for about one hundred kilometres. We suspect that a regiment (the Ottoman equivalent of a British brigade) or even a division may have had its headquarters at Fassu-ah ridge.

But the work isn’t over yet by any means. Serious analysis and interpretation of finds – buttons, munitions, fragments of uniform, bits of equipment, personal effects, and much else – is only just beginning.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Day 11 Crammed in the canvas

How many men slept in an Ottoman army tent during the first world war? To find out, we did some experimental archaeology. Six plucky members of the team lay down within a tent ring, arranging themselves radially, feet central, heads out, in an attempt to establish what might have been practical given the size and shape of the tent. Six men, together with their arms, equipment and clothes would have been tight packed: our guess is that this would have been the number actually housed within the tents.

The detectorists went to examine the patch of land near what had been identified as an ancient well, eager with anticipation of finds dating back hundreds of years to support this.

However almost no metal artefacts were found whatsoever, with the exception of two modern (1950's) coins and a very small amount of iron scrap, making it very unlikely that this did in fact represent an ancient watering hole. Bit of a mystery!

Another intrepid group began a reconnaissance of the Hizaz railway south from Ma’an to Batn Al Ghul. This was aimed at identifying Great Arab Revolt period structures and features, (redoubts, trenches, breastworks and similar). The only way to detect these sites is to drive in the desert adjacent to the railway and to observe the landscape first hand. By the end of today we had discovered 5 new sites, all of which featured tent rings, defensive trenches, possible machine gun posts, and other characteristics all of which were worthy of serious investigation. Included in these sites we found the location of Gadia Al Hajj station which we had previously not been unable to find.

The intensity of this field work meant that after six hours we had only been able to cover 20km, leaving a further 40km on this stretch – who knows wonders what these may reveal!

For those interested in the use of metal detectors on this expedition, here’s a couple of pictures hastily taken of some of the 600 metal artefacts found during the first 7 days of our searching. The range and age of these reflect the ancient location of the WW1 sites and the pathways along which they lie alongside.

Finally we would like to express our sincere thanks to the Edom Hotel near to the astonishing new wonder of the world that is Petra for their kindness in allowing us to have internet access via the hotel in order to make and publish this blog. We are very grateful for their help.