Sunday, 29 November 2009

Day 12 - Rushed recording and investigation of new sites.

The last day on site is always frantic. No new work can be started and lots of jobs have to be finished before we depart. There is huge pressure on recording equipment and today it was measuring tapes that ran out with Arab tent complexes on the western hill and Ottoman structures on the eastern hill at Waheida being drawn at the same time. In spite of that all tams worked very hard to get a much done as possible to provide the vital data for the post excavation work back home.

At the same time as this a small team went in search of the site of an RFC (Royal Flying Corps) advanced landing strip about 5 kilometres from Ma'an. This was intended for bombing runs on Ma'an itself, still held by up to 6000 Ottoman troops. The probable site for the strip was at the foot of a hill, adjacent to a significant disused and broken mill, ideal for providing updraft for aircraft take off in the thin air at this altitude. Evidence of military occupation of the site was found by the metal detectorists in the form of incoming WW1 rounds fired into the site - someone was shooting at it - but there was not enough time for a complete survey - something for next year.

We also visited Jerdun - a station on the Hijaz railway which was the site of 4 battles during WW1. In a recently published book (citation to follow) there is a map of the station showing extensive trench systems and defensive positions. Unfortunately our hopes were somewhat dashed on arrival at the site when we discovered the buildings had gone and all of the surrounding area had been heavily trashed by earth moving equipment. Some evidence of battle in in the form of various spent munitions confirmed the site was indeed the correct one.   It may be that we go back for some specialist detecting methodological trials next season, to see if we can extract any useful data from the site.

More to follow later and tomorrow together with lots of previously unseen photographs when we have completed all our finds, publications and other meetings tonight.

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