Banner 2013

Banner 2013

Sunday 6 April 2014

T. E. Lawrence Society Symposium

Followers of this blog and the project may be interested in an upcoming symposium organised by the T. E. Lawrence Society. This will take place in Oxford between Friday September 26th and Sunday September 28th 2014. For more information please see the Symposium Poster

Thursday 27 March 2014

Project triumph revealed

Last weekend we were finally able to reveal one of the most astonishing finds made by the GARP team during this project.  With a combination of good fortune, scraps of information and of dedicated, thorough research John Winterburn manage to unravel the location of one of the most amazing sites ever to be unearthed in the search for the truth of the enigma that was Lawrence of Arabia.

Rolls Royce armoured cars at the camp site

Evidenced by fragments of  brushwood fire on a stony hearth; discarded tins of WW1 army-issue beef; bits of broken gin bottle and a smashed SRD rum jar together with items lost from Rolls Royce armoured vehicles and a host of spent cartridge cases, the site of one of Lawrence's hidden desert camps was identified and confirmed.
Fragments of a gin bottle

Armoured car spark plug

SRD Rum bottle
The GARP team have spent many hours thoroughly investigating and recording the site and it's artifacts.

This remarkable story will be revealed  in full over the coming months with books and further publications and an exhibition of artifacts all currently in preparation. In the meantime more on this story as revealed in the press last weekend is available via the Sunday Times, Daily Mail and Catholic Online web sites. 

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Final Season Prospectus now available

The last ever season of work for this amazing project will take place later this year. There are still a few places left for anyone who want to either return for the final fling or become one of the very few to have been part of the team.

Full prospectus is here: GARP 2014 Prospectus

Have a look. Hope to see you there!

Monday 18 November 2013

"The Poppy" - book update

Nick's book, The Poppy - A Cultural History from Ancient Egypt to Flanders Fields to Afghanistan - was the subject of an interview between himself and Clare Balding recently - the podcast link is here

Also, the book will be discussed on Radio 4's Thinking Allowed with Laurie Taylor soon. That broadcast will be available via this link once the programme has aired.

Saturday 9 November 2013

Day 12 - Last day in Wadi Musa 2013

This season we will be leaving before 11th November, but in other seasons we have been in Jordan on that date. When we are here, we always take time to stop our digging activities and remember those who lost their lives on all sides in the conflict here and elsewhere in war. The image above was taken in Sussex this year, where the poppies were unusually prolific. 

On a related note, one of our directors, Nick Saunders, has recently written a book about the history of the poppy and it's cultural significance. Link here for anyone interested. A highly appropriate topic given the approaching centenary of World War 1.

Today is our last day in Jordan this year, and while many are enjoying travelling and viewing the sights of Wadi Rum or nearby Roman or other remains, many of the team are in the hotel lobby sorting, identifying, cleaning, photographing and recording finds from this season. This is the beginning of the vast amount of post-excavation work that takes place following every archaeological endeavour, and to those who have not been involved the scale of this is often a surprise. It takes many months and hundreds if not thousands of hours of painstaking work to accurately record  and analyse the information, eventually leading to the production of academic papers, reports and monographs as well as some more popular publications. The output from this project will be prolific and will provide material for further study and analysis for many years to come. 

The rest of today's blog will be images taken by the team members during the two weeks with us this year.  At the time of writing not all of these have been received, so they well be added as and when they come in.

As we leave this year it only remains for me to make an official announcement and then some thanks. We have decided that next year, the 2014 season, will be the last time the Great Arab Revolt Project visits Jordan to pursue this work.  Information about the dates, cost and application for this final season will be published shortly.  I can also report that we have begun discussions and have a fledgling idea for another project which we hope will follow on from GARP, and employ the same type of multidisciplinary approach and team work to a new Conflict Archaeology study as we have done.

Finally can I just thank everyone who has helped me this year with their experience and knowledge which has allowed the detail in this blog to be maintained. Also I'd especially like to thank the followers of the blog and those who have made comments and asked such varied and interesting questions. 

Friday 8 November 2013

Day 11 - Season's last day in the field at Mudawarra south redoubt

The sun was rising as we left this morning for the long trip to Mudawarra. Unusually the clouds were fairly thick, but shafts of early morning sunlight broke through to illuminate the desert landscape.

We were working for the last time in the field this season, continuing to excavate the features on the southern hilltop redoubt. You may be able to get a feel for the scale of this from some of the images. Climbing to each of the levels was extremely hazardous due to the loose gravelly sand that covered every surface, scattered between a multitude of sharp rocks, also apt to slip and slide when touched. 

Whilst some of us were working on the top level, a happy, friendly young Bedouin boy clambered up the steep western side of the redoubt and presented us with this - an Ottoman grenade. Fortunately the explosive and fuse had long gone so it was completely safe. You can see the obvious Turkish crescent symbol on the surface of it.

The western side of the upper level of the redoubt is a really well constructed stone wall, with loopholes approximately every 6-10 feet sited along it. Detecting and excavating along this wall produce large numbers of Mauser cartridge finds. One of the locations proved to have 22 such cartridges in one hole. 

These finds clearly indicate a used, directional firing position to the east. On the west side there were contrasting finds. A row of 303 cartridge cases were found here and indicate that the Arab/British forces at some point, perhaps even directly after taking the redoubt, fired in that direction, which is towards the station buildings. These were defended by the Ottomans with a mounted machine gun, and it looks like we may also have found evidence of incoming fire from exactly such a weapon at today's site also. 

Our last day in the field has produced some really useful evidence which will help us to confirm and build upon ideas and theories concerning the attacks on this set of three redoubts. 

We drove back from the fieldwork for the final time this season, really tired from the heat and the digging. The bus was virtually silent as we made our way north through mile after mile of featureless desert, past the occasional small industrial site or highway police station, until we reached the main town in this region - Ma'an. To finish today's blog, here are a few pictures taking from the moving bus, of Ma'an as we travelled through it.   Tomorrow is our final day, and we are all doing different things. There will be a blog with a selection of images taken by the team this year.

Thursday 7 November 2013

Day 10 - Mudawarra South redoubt

Last season we visited this site and climbed the northern of three redoubts that were attacked by British and Arab forces in 1918. These redoubts are large hilltop locations with well established fortifications used to protect the railway station at Mudawarra. We know there were around 160 Ottoman soldiers stationed on these redoubts, and that attacks took place several times before they fell.  This season we went for the first time to the southern redoubt.

The fortifications include long walled areas at different levels on the hillsides arranged to face incoming forces in the direction of most likely attack.  These walls are built with holes in to enable rifle fire from protected positions - loopholes. In the picture below one of these can be clearly seen.
View from one of the walled firing points clearly showing loophole

Same wall as the above image. 
At two of the loopholes along this wall today groups of fired Mauser cartridges were found directly associated with them - clear firing positions. 

Other features abound on this multi-level site, including tent rings, buildings and walled firing positions. The day was spent investigating these for evidence of one or more of the attacks that took place here.

This is a steep site on several layers and the images do not really indicate the difficulty of access. Some of our team remained on the lower level, which was difficult enough to get to, whilst others worked higher up.

View from the highest point of the southern redoubt.

The fortified walls around the top of the southern redoubt.

Local Bedouin boy watching 

Local Bedouin children came to look
We were joined at several times today by local Bedouin children who were interested in what these strange visitors were up to. Down in the flat wadi below were around 20 Bedu tents, with camels, goats and associated items.

We are back here tomorrow for our last field day this season.