Banner image 2014

Banner image 2014

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Saturday - last full day

Internet here is very intermittent today, and won't allow uploading of images, so the final blog posts will have to wait for a couple of days until we get home.

For now, just to let all loved ones and friends know, we are all here, safe and well, have enjoyed a fantastic season, and thank you all so much for following our exploits. More soon, hopefully...

Friday, 28 November 2014

Friday - Train, trips, tiredness, treat and wrap-up

First, a couple of videos from yesterday's train ride, courtesy of our friend Sate. You can easily spot the rail joins!

Also easy to appreciate the vulnerability of the train on it's fixed path through that landscape. It's no wonder that the geurrilla tactics of Lawrence and the Arab forces were so effective, both in destruction and in building fear.

In answer to a question regarding yesterday's pictures, the rock piles in the foreground of some of the images are in fact parts of the wall of the fort on the high point at Fassuah Ridge. It might be clearer to see in the image below. 

It's hard to see, but the fort is located on the top edge of the slight incline descending left to right, about 1/3 across the image from the left. This image is taken from the area of the tented encampment on the flat plain which sits just above the main drop down the escarpment into the Arabian desert. The position of the fort is perfect, offering commanding views of the whole area looking south, including the camp and down into Batn Al Ghul.

This afternoon was our final project wrap-up session, with talks from the directors and the opportunity for questions, comments and discussion about the season and then plans for the ongoing work and publications. This also included a show and tell session of all the finds from this year, which produced further lively, interested discussion. 

Straight after this we went out to dinner at a lovely hotel/restaurant several miles away, and the meal, the ambiance of the place and camaraderie of the group combined into a really beautiful evening to complete the day and celebrate the project.

To be continued...

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Thursday - back to some old sites and a 'train' ride

Yesterday was our last proper digging day of this season, and in fact of the project. Today we had the opportunity to have a ride along the Hijaz railway from Ma'an down to Wadi Rutm on a small boxy train, giving a real feel for the experience the Ottomans would have had when doing the same journey through this landscape almost 100 years ago. 

The logistics meant that we had to split the group so that half went in one direction, south down the line, while the other half waited at the far station to do the return trip. 

In the meantime those not on the train travelled to some of our more impressive previously investigated sites for a final time. In particular, the large, complex encampment near the original Batn Al Ghul station at the top of the escarpment leading down into Southern Jordan and the more sandy desert,  and secondly the spectacular hill-top fort at Fassuah Ridge with it's breathtaking views into Batn Al Ghul itself.

At the turn around point sadly one of the trains was derailed whilst reversing the direction of the driving cabin. 

Consequently only one made it back, and this one didn't have the capacity to take everyone. Some of us were happy enough to remain, wander and chat in one of our most inspiring project locations.

The weather today was beautiful, albeit a bit chilly in the wind, for this really fitting opportunity to say goodbye to these iconic, stunning locations.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Wednesday - here's a puzzle...

First post today is a question for you. One of the team spotted a rather unusual find in the desert today. Can you see it in the image below? Answers later...

(Apologies - comments have not been working properly for a while. Hopefully fixed now. Please include your name if leaving a comment. Current GARPies not allowed to guess!)

In the meantime, here are some more pictures from the work site, which is the southern most of three related fortifications along the Hijaz down towards Mudawarra.

 The largest feature here is a ring shaped fortification with deep trenches, shown in the image above. This has been excavated back to the base.

Meanwhile other team members worked on smaller, nearby features.

No prizes for identifying the image above. It's a tent ring!

Above: Planning the large feature.

Here following are a couple of aerial shots showing the location of the main feature and nearby trench system at the station, which sadly we haven't had time to fully investigate.

Some good guesses as to the find in the first picture - it's easier to see in this one above, and the images below reveal it's true nature.

It's the front of a small Meerschaum pipe bowl, just over an inch tall, which would have been the sort used by higher ranking personnel as it differs from the large, chunky ones used by the conscripted men. The pictures show it replaced in a cleaned up area of the sand, and initially it was in amongst much more desert debris. This little man looked up from the desert at us after ying there for around 100 years, and we found him.