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.