Thursday, 20 November 2008

Day 8 – Mules and Seals

How did the Ottomans move supplies around the desert landscape? We think we may have an archaeological answer. Yesterday one of our detectorists spotted an unusual line of stones on the plateau to the west of the fort at Fassu-ah. Returning today, GARP archaeologists identified a large rectangular area of stone clearance, a long curving trough, and metal finds of both military buttons mule shoes and nails.

There can be no reasonable doubt that this area represents mule lines of the Ottoman army supply system on Fassu-ah ridge. Suddenly a whole new dimension of the desert war is revealed. The railway moves bulk supplies but pack animals are then used to transport goods from the rail line to the scattered forces along the ridge, or possibly to carry the vital water resource from Fassu-ah fort at Akabat Hijaz to remote outposts. (Pictures to follow.)

Nearby in the extensive patches of tent rings and other Ottoman workings the detectorists continued to search within the stone patterns scattered across the desert. Although some of these are sketchy with many of the surface ring shaped rocks having been removed by later activity the ghosts of the tents locations can be seen. Under a rock at the edge of one of these an intact Ottoman personal seal was found.

The inscription having been ranslated by one of our party and confirmed in detail by later this turns out to have belonged to one Khalil Hasan Jhon and has been dated by our local historian to around 1907. Further investigations are ongoing to see if we can discover who exactly this person was, and why he might have been part of the forces camped on the ridge.

Below the edge of the ridge itself, and crafted into the hillside to enable control of the wind rushing over the surface, a large brick breaad oven structure can be seen. This is a remarkably well built example with the overhanging canopy expertly assembled to withstand both the heat of cooking and the ravages of the climate.

Amid all this excitement we were delighted to receive a visit from Trevor Peacock, the Australian ambassador to Jordan together with his Protocol Officer Rana Naber. The ambassador was particularly enthusiastic about the work and displayed a strong personal interest in the archaeology of Jordan and showed particular interest in what we are doing. His visit lasted two hours during which time he was given a tour of the highlights of the excavation.

1 comment:

Bill said...

Half-finished and lots to show for it. Congratulations!