Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Back to Jordan: preparing for the third season in the field

We are now preparing for our third field season in Southern Jordan. A team of 28 will be flying out on 12 November for a two full weeks’ work. What are we hoping to achieve?

Excavating an Ottoman camp

At Batn Al-Ghoul, the site of an abandoned and demolished railway station, we will be excavating part of a former Ottoman camp. The preservation here in the dry desert conditions is superb, with surviving wood, rope, canvas, sacking, and even parts of uniforms. We plan ‘micro-excavation’ – careful exposure and recording of artefacts and food remains in situ – in order to reconstruct something of the everyday life of Ottoman soldiers guarding this remote desert outpost.

Exploring an Ottoman fort

Nearby, on a high ridge overlooking Wadi Rutm, where we worked in 2006 and 2007, we will be investigating the well-preserved remains of a large Ottoman fort, complete with breastworks, trenches, blockhouse, oven, and trackways. The local rumour is that this was a major command-and-control centre for the anti-insurgency war in the area. We aim to find out.

Reconstructing an Arab Revolt battleground

At Jerdun, a new site, we are planning preliminary work to test the archaeological potential. Contemporary records show strong defences around the railway station here and describe a major battle to capture it. We are hoping that we can trace the trenches on the ground, and, from scatters of expended munitions, to begin to build a picture of the battle itself.

More information and images here