Banner image 2014

Banner image 2014

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Thursday - archaeology rules

The trip to work this morning was beautiful, with the early morning light bouncing off the highway as we travelled south through the barren landscape. Most of the group went back to the excavation site to continue removing literally tons of sand from the fortifications. The difference over a couple of days is amazing. More of that later.

The detectorists and their co-opted GPS officer for the day spent a while near a previously examined station, first investigated by us in 2006, and mopped up a few incoming rounds and fired cartridge cases. One of the buildings in the station collection is relatively intact. Can you spot the loopholes that were used by those defending the building with rifles?

Here's two of the team proving conclusively that wild gourds are definitely not metal. We haven't seen many of these plants in fruit over the  years, and this one was one of a few clustered together right in the centre of a wadi.

Back on the main dig site this morning, one of the sayings we've developed over the years was proved again to be a truism. 'If you want a big hole in the desert, dig a little one, go away and come back'

The bottom of the excavation in the picture above had been left flat and level yesterday. Today on arrival a big hole had appeared - gold hunters had struck! There is a huge perception among ARab peoples that the desert is littered with buried gold, and also that what we are doing is a cover up for looking for it. So, where we dig, they dig. 

Fortunately most of the site was as we had left it. The work continued and over the course of the day many of the structural features of this fortified position were revealed in amazing detail. Trenches, steps, paths and loopholes in the outer wall all came into view. For those that have the idea that archaeology is about finds, this is a really important lesson. The work done here by this fantastic team reveals amazing insights into the construction and operation of a defensive military position. Truly wonderful archaeology. 

Pictures from the day's work below. Hopefully they give a feel for the scale and success of this work. There will be final pictures taken tomorrow after a small team go back to clean up the site.


  1. Has there been gold buried in the past?? Are these nomads who follow you and are further digging up sites???

  2. Hi Y'all,
    I'm really envious - it's been v. cold and wet (or at least damp) here since Sunday. Nice to see Nick with a shovel. Was that just a pose or has someone actually given him lessons in handling it?
    Keep on trucking!
    PS for Roger: Images 4, 8, 10 & 15 came up blank - at least for me.

  3. >Ed. There are Bedouin all over the desert, albeit in small numbers in most places. Both these and virtually all other Arabs believe gold is buried there, based upon a number of historical reasons, one of which is that the British and French paid the Arab irregulars in gold throughout the Revolt.
    >Guy - we miss you! There have been a number of interesting ordnance related finds which you would have been keen to see. Regarding the pictures, they are all definitely there, maybe if you do a refresh of the page they will appear. CTRL key and F5 together should do it. :-)