Banner 2013

Banner 2013

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Day 9 - last day at Batn Al-Ghul

Back to the huge tent ring complex at Batn Al-Ghul for the final time today. Some rings were being finished off from yesterday and others were newly started. By the end of the day all groups were working on the northernmost section of the camp where around twenty of the one hundred or so rings lie.

These Ottoman army camp rings and the spaces around and near them contain a multitude of artefacts associated with the Ottoman occupation of this territory towards the end of World War 1. The team members continue to find many things here, and what is especially noticeable is the quantity of finds within the compacted sand in the rings themselves.

A few finds bags containing material found in a tent ring

Batn Al-Ghul to the left, archaeologists to the right

The amazing views into the belly of the beast

Lunch and a welcome break from digging

Some take refuge from the heat and wind in the bus for a short while

Standing just outside the tent ring closest to the north western edge of the camp
Now to answer a couple of questions. The soldiers here ate a combination of supplies that were carried down the line by trains or from very limited local sources. You can see from the images nothing much grows in this part of the desert, so virtually everything has to be brought in either in tins or, if fresh, from further north up the line where more things grew.

This landscape is littered with old tins. There are literally thousands lying on the surface or buried slightly beneath. They held milk powder, tea, Argentinian corned beef and everything else one would expect to find in terms of rations supplied to the Ottoman army in the field. Although many of them are rusted beyond identification there are some with readable writing imprinted on the lids or sides. Whilst they do provide some evidence of the camp food, they and the other similar rusted iron and tins also play havoc with the metal detectors in their search for items of other metals such as copper, brass or zinc, or other alloys.

In addition to the tinned foodstuffs the excavation of the rings reveals remains of pips and seeds from dates and the like, plus other identifiable items including peanuts. Also from the finds it is thought that occasionally an animal such as a goat would be killed and eaten to provide the meat for the troops.

The finds themselves, be they paper, cloth, animal, metal or other are found at a variety of depths. Some of the landscape here has been undisturbed since the time of the war, and indeed many finds are "eyes only" and found by someone keenly looking at the ground as they walk around the site. Other finds may be just under the surface or at the depth of the rock beneath the compacted sand, which varies from place to place even over small distances. Inside tent rings the maximum depth from the exterior surface to the operational base of the ring where things are found is of the order of 30 centimetres. This is also about the maximum depth that finds may be made using the metal detectors.  These figures may vary according to the nature and mineralisation of the land.

Tomorrow we are way down south again to Mudawarra, where the Arab and British forces attacked and took an Ottoman position held on three hilltop redoubts with the aid of artillery and limited air support. 


  1. Great Blog and photies as ever Roger; good lucj to everyone for the rest of the dig :)

  2. Great Info and great pics. Thank you Roger!