Banner image 2014

Banner image 2014

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Saturday - a complex camp

Today we were back at the site of the line walking, to further investigate and attempt to understand many elements and features. The total of the surface and metal detected finds yesterday exceeded 180, with a further 20 or so left behind with mini stone cairns beside them for GPS'ing and collection today. 

Surface scraping in areas of high interest, either by visual observation or metal detection, revealed many more finds for the team to record and analyse for archive purposes later back at the hotel.

Today we highlight three interesting finds, all metal detected and all found within 5 minutes and 5 metres of each other are shown in the image below.

From left to right: a Type T Friction Tube (see below for more information); a coin dated 1916 in both Arabic and English script and a British Army Uniform button. Evidence of British military presence  as well as members of the Arab forces and also artillery. Although we have found similar artefacts in other sites in previous seasons, these all found together help build a coherent picture of the groups present in this camp.

The friction tube is an example of a device used to fire field artillery. In effect a predictable, enhanced match, the wire pin (shown at the top of the device in the picture) had a lanyard attached which was pulled sharply to fire the gun. The cylindrical tube (beneath the coin) was inserted into the breech of the gun, and contained black gunpowder which was ignited by the action of sharp removal of the wire pin. The sectional diagram below shows in more detail the internal workings of this device, including the roughened sides of the wire which caused friction inside the tube when pulled n order to start the ignition.

We have found a used one of these before, but never a live one, so this is a new addition to our collection of finds related to British/Arab forces.  

"TFrictionTubeMkIV" by War Office, UK. - Plate LXXIV & Pages 366-367 in "Treatise on Ammunition" 10th Edition 1915.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Here are some pictures of the fully excavated and cleaned previous site we worked on, showing the scale of the trenches and the fortifications in more detail. They show exactly what can be achieved in a few days. The lower surfaces in the  pictures were originally buried under sufficient sand to make the walls of the structures completely invisible. Upon careful excavation the lower working surfaces and true nature of these fortifications is revealed.

Finally, by way of a distraction from our normal activities, two of our team today completed the first ever GARP King's Highway 10k race. Starting at the work site and running 5 kilometres towards Wadi Rum before turning round for the return 5k. All distances were completely accurately determined by GPS so there was no cheating, and they came in together at around 58 minutes. A brilliant achievement in the hot and windy conditions. Well done to Ali and John. 


  1. Congratulations to all of the team for such numerous and interesting finds. What is the daily temperature range, and have you had any rain this season?
    Looks like JW may have 'cheated' at the start of the 10 km marathon as he is holding a "sweat replacement vessel" in his right hand, so obviously Ali should be declared the winner.........

  2. Thanks April. It's certainly a prolific season for finds, and we are only half-way through. The temperature where we are staying is around 20 C during the day but drops to around 10-12 at night. At the working sites it is a few degrees higher, and I think we probably got up to 28 or so on one day in the field. However the wind is strong on most days and chills it down. It certainly doesn't feel as hot overall to me as the last season we were here at this time.

    I think Ali would agree with you ;-) However for the sake of peace an honourable tie is a very fair result. And hats off to both of them - they both did really well.