Monday, 17 November 2008

Day 5 – Station debris, burials and another camp

Today one team explored the western side of the modern railway embankment which loops around the plateau and encompasses many of the main tent rings. One team member identified what appears to be a small surviving section of the original Hejaz railway embankment, now superseded by the modern railway. Adjacent to this were what appeared to be five individual burials and a possible mass burial.

The same team then yomped down into the wadi at Batn Al Ghul and headed south along the line of the old Hijaz railway to re-visit a small fortified hill which projects out into the wadi. Re-examination of the fortifications revealed two possible loopholes, (man-made slits in the rock designed for firing rifles through), and perhaps the circular foundations of an Ottoman army tent. Following on south down the slope they re-visited half a dozen or so tent rings and discovered within one a human shaped low mound which had been recently disturbed. There was no indication of human remains or any other finds. From this point they trekked back for an hour to the main working site.

Later this team went north to a large hill overlooking the main camp site on the beginnings of the Fassu-ah ridge and encountered another small encampment with what looked like associated burials.

Each day the landscape archaeologists add more insights into the sheer scale of the Ottoman militarisation of this landscape, almost all of which would merit further detailed study. We hope to be able to spend some time at least some of these this season.

Meanwhile, as the main group further examined the sieved extractions from the tent ring floors, the detectorists carried out a final sweep of that site, picking up further finds including numbers of the now often found Crescent and Star buttons.

Later this team crossed the railway line to examine the rubble and surrounding area of the former station at Batn AL Ghul. The seriously damaged site, with barely a fraction of one wall of the building remaining, was heavily strewn with metallic debris, some relatively modern, including wire, steel banding, waste tin cans and bits of railway paraphernalia. This made the detecting of that part of the site virtually impossible.

Moving further out into the flatter landscape in front of the ruined building however the detectorists did discover some evidence of military activity. Together with several fired cartridge cases and at least three different incoming rounds a large fragment of an expended Ottoman grenade was found. Whilst indicating that this site almost certainly did experience some form of military conflict these finds do not provide significant evidence for a major attack on the station. However the land around the station is so heavily disturbed by modern activity that it is possible larger scale conflict occurred, the physical remains of which has since been removed, destroyed or buried.


Anonymous said...

Wow! You guys must be having a great time - so many exciting finds and discoveries. I can hardly wait for the next instalment... miss you all!

Anonymous said...

Hi all,

We noted clear evidence of the original Hijaz railway embankment on the south side of the 'new' curve just past the now famous 'Batn al Ghul' station sign. Is this the same stretch of embankment or do we have more now?

Dave 'The absent Field Director'