After a remarkably successful season in 2006 GWAG, with its team of 25, are returning to further uncover the archaeological sites of the latter stages of the 1st World War and the Arab Revolt along the Hejaz Railway in Jordan.
Ma'an, with its beautifully preserved German-inspired trench systems, will remain a focus of research, whilst the excavations in Wadi Rutm will be expanded to include the railway station at Batn Al Ghoul and the demolished Turkish defences on the escarpment that towers above both. A challenge just getting up there in itself!
We will also seek to identify, plot and excavate the battlefield site at the village of Abu Al Lissan – the site made so famous in David Lean's classic film and documented in T.E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom. This site has never been properly identified, much less surveyed or excavated, before.
Advance party has been there for a couple of days now. Everything sounds good, although there are apparently no internet facilities in the hotel.
The good news is the Jordanian Department Of Antiquities have promised us access via the university at Petra, which means this blog looks like it will actually happen and be updated live every day from tomorrow onwards. Exciting stuff!
A forward party comprising of Neil Faulkner, David Thorpe, David and Angie Hibbitt flew to Jordan on Friday 26 October 2007, arriving at Wadi Musa in the early hours of Saturday morning. Their remit was to prepare for the remainder of the party, who would join us in three days time.
This year the Project is fortunate in having the assistance of two lecturers from the Al-Hussein Bin Talal University (Zeyad Al-Salameen and Mansour Shqiarat) as well as Jeyad Kafafi, a Curator at the Jordan Museum. All three will be contributing their expertise and knowledge and will be working on site as part of the team. The University has also kindly agreed to loan the Project a Total Station which will be huge asset to the surveying team.
The two Dave’s spent some time on Monday acquainting themselves with this equipment while Neil, Zeyad and Angie went to Ma’an to meet with Mansour and Hani Falahat, who is the Inspector of Antiquities for the Ma’an region. Hani worked closely with us last year and we are pleased to resume our working relationship with him.
A site visit followed at the Hajj Fort of Fassu-oh, which is approximately 60km south of Ma’an. The fort is one of a series of Ottoman installations and protected the watering place which was later used to supply water to the Aqabat-Hejaz railway station. We spent some time carefully exploring the fort which is largely intact but has been subjected to some digging by treasure hunters. The fort is isolated, lying at the bottom of a Wadi, surrounded by hills. There are two water reservoirs adjacent, typical of the type found elsewhere in Southern Jordan. The site is ripe for further investigation.
A check of the over looking hills revealed two possible observation posts and two trenches.
We also visited the site of the Aqabat-Hejaz Station, which is roughly 2km east of Fassu-oh. There some standing building remains here, as a well as a water reservoir which may have had a building on top of it. There also appeared to be a later addition of a fortified wall around these station buildings.
These are both exciting new sites that add to our growing knowledge and understanding of the activities of those involved in the Great Arab Revolt in this area.