Friday, 5 November 2010

Day 11 - Last day in the desert

A fast day of recording completed our season with work at the Southern encampment at Tel  el Shahm and the northern most of 3 forts north of Ramlah.  This turned out to a better constructed fortification than anticipated with deeply cut stand-up trenches which allowed the Ottoman soldiers to shoot from exterior ground level loop holes. Also the central feature turned out to be a deeply cut dugout where finds including cigarette papers implied that soldiers had used this as living quarters. 

Our Turkish colleague Adil etc joined us for our last day in the field to get  a sense of the landscape and the Ottoman military features  within it. Being a historian he declined to excavate the sand out of his forbear’s trenches but disappeared into the desert in a search for other forts. Who should he bump into but our landscape archaeologist coming in the other direction. This minor combined forces expedition successfully located yet another lost late Ottoman fort in the desert.

At Tel el Shahm the wrap up of the work continued with much recording of the excavations. The brick structure was cleared and photographed together with many other completed features. The mule lines, although producing no finds in the excavation itelf, had a wealth of iron material just to the north, including a large number and variety of nails and a pole hanging hook which clearly showed the signs of being worked by hammer. This looks like it was probably the site of the blacksmith for the force stationed there.

Further south towards the station a rocky outcrop which was full of wind blown sand and modern debris yielded no new finds for the detectorists. However just beyond that on the plain several faint features, tent rings and smaller circles, produced Ottoman coins. Also across the whole of the site a number of incoming 303 rounds have now been found, indicating clearly British/Arab forces attack.

Everyone is now really tired. Also a certain amount of desert madness has set in evidenced by the formation of the First Goofa Rifles outside the brick structure. Having shifted several cubic metres of sand this splendid team deserved their success being preserved for posterity on this blog. 

First Goofa Rifles (This pic won a prize at Past !)

Tomorrow is a rest day and many of the team are going on a site seeing trip to the battlefield at Tafilah and the crusader castle at Kerak. There will be a final blog from this season tomorrow, and we will report on future plans for the development and continuation of this project.

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