Banner image 2014

Banner image 2014

Friday, 21 November 2014

Friday - another exciting desert camp

Another photograph from the archives has come up trumps. On the basis of tracking down the location of two military vehicles that were shown, together with personnel, in front of a craggy hill in the desert, we have found what appears to be another major site of the activities of the Great Arab Revolt Project. Four of us having recce'd the site on Tuesday, there was enough material on the surface of the ground to warrant a full team field walking exercise today to determine the extent of main finds and to look for specific locations requiring further archaeological investigation.

This site is 2 hours from our base hotel, so leaving at 7.30 am means arriving at site at 9.30. The field walking was quickly set up, with initially a line of around 20 members set at two-three metres apart, with marshals every 5 persons. The job of the marshals was to ensure even pace, steady gaps and to maintain the direction of the line. Eyes down and we're off. The idea is to spot everything that might be of interest on the surface. Once someone sees something, the spotter calls out and the line stops while the object in question is investigated, it's location GPS'd and the item then lifted for later study and recording in our archive.

We began with one person operating the GPS but it became evident very quickly that the quantity of finds was proving far too great for that, so another and later a third was added to note the finds and their location. 

As the team became more proficient each marshalled group operated independently, so that a find didn't stop the whole line. This technique proved incredibly effective in locating things and also giving a feel for concentrations of material that would benefit from further study. There were indeed lots of finds!

All the time the detectorists followed behind checking for sub-surface metal, and they also turned up a range of interesting finds.

There is a lot of interesting material here, and the landscape is impressive. In the images above the finds shown are found in cleared areas. Most of the surface is covered with the sharp, fractured black basalt that typifies the southern Jordanian desert. It's hard to convey the stark beauty of this at either the micro or macro scale. 

After lunch, the archaeologists having decided on a plan of action, the team split up and began surface scraping some of the identified features in the landscape.  The overall picture of the operation of this complex site is now beginning to be revealed.

We will be back here for at least one more day, gathering surface finds, opening up features and collating all our found evidence to enhance the understanding of this large, fascinating site.

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