Our 2014 GARP adventure began today with the news that our much ambivalently regarded mini bus is not available this year,meaning we will be travelling to and from site in a convoy of 4x4 vehicles. Whatever one's view of the bus, it did provide a certain group camaraderie, not least of all because of the ease of passing around sweets during the long journeys.
So, today we set of in convoy heading south, to an interim fort site located between two of the stations on the Hijaz railway. This site had been briefly looked at in part a couple of years ago, and the intention is to complete more and thorough excavation work there to fill out the picture. We were greeted there by several Bedouin puppies, who can never have seen anything like this bunch of weird smelling people trampling all over their play area. They were very friendly, by and large keeping their distance, just observing. More about this site with images of the work on tomorrow's blog.
Meanwhile a small group headed of to try to find the actual location of a recently obtained photograph of some military vehicles from the time. After much wandering around, intense viewing of the position of landmarks and lines of sight, we think we have found it. More news on this later in the week when we go back there to try to collect diagnostic material from the site which supports our identification.
Some important news to report to friends and loved ones at home is that we are all here safe and sound, and that the places we are staying and working feel and are fine, with no hint of trouble. However we have decided to err on the side of caution and not refer to places we are working by name this season while we are here, which will explain some of the generalisations in this year's blog.
Yesterday half a dozen of us wandered the three miles uphill from the hotel to the site of the source of the name of this town - Wadi Musa, or Moses' Wadi, named after the place that he struck the rock to make a spring of water appear. The spring from this rock still flows, and the pool it feeds is now inside a small building. While we were there local children arrived to fill up water containers from this ancient spring.
On the walk back down we bought some fresh baklava in one of the local bakeries. All very calm and pleasant.