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.

No comments: