Sunday, 16 November 2008

Day 4 - Soft Beds and Missing Buttons

Excavation of the tent ring at Batn Al Ghoul camp has now revealed evidence for deliberate deposits of soft sand in tent interiors. Today A vertical section was cut through one tent ring and this showed that a flat bottomed hollow had been cut and this appears to have been filled with the soft sand. We assume this was done because the occupants slept on the ground. We have found objects and food remains throughout these sand layers but especially towards the top.

Our plotting of finds inside the tent rings has shown the distribution to be random. Therefore the time has come to speed up the work. Tomorrow heavy tools will be used to remove the sandy fills while sieving for any last finds within the currently worked rings. Our plan then will be to move up to Fassuah ridge fort.

Meanwhile our metal detectorists have been working on the opposite side of the former Hizaj railway. In this area, where there are many more tent rings, now dubbed by us the Southern Camp, our metal detectorists have continued to find large numbers of lost military buttons. Speculation as to the reasons for the Ottoman military’s propensity to lose their buttons is rife.

Our landscape archaeologist, roaming the landscape of Batn Al Ghoul as usual, finally stumbled upon the remains of the late Ottoman railway station, which we had been seeking for two years. Amid great heaps of bulldozed rubble could be seen the remains of the lower courses of a single surviving wall. Projecting from the rubble was a single piece of Hijaz railway track.

For those interested the operational sites for this season are to the south of Ma'an in the map below.

3 comments:

Angie Hibbitt said...

Hi all - we're curious about the remains of the station - was the area we surveyed last year not the station after all? It was right next to the correct mileage sign as well as the notorious sign for Batn Al Ghul....... Sounds as if you're having a fabulous and rewarding time over there! Dave & Angie

Anthea said...

Re the lost buttons: I'm beginning to get an image of very dishevelled soldiers! The buttons seem, as far as I can tell from the reports, to be scattered all over the place. I presume the uniforms were made in Turkey?
Please keep uploading the images - they're much appreciated. Also, could you give some idea of where Batn Al Ghoul is on your map?

Please say Hi to John for me; all that work on aerial photos/maps seems to be paying off!
Anthea W.

Roger Ward said...

Hi Angie and Dave - yes that bit you surveyed last year turned out not to have been the station after all. It is in fact a much larger pile of rubble right opposite the tent rings on the flat plain. And yes, loads of new stuff as ever! We need to put a tether on JW!!!

Hi Anthea - Yes there really is a wide spread of buttons lost from uniforms, which we believe were Turkish made. The buttons themselves actually originate from a range of manufactureres including those from Germany, France and even Great Britain. Batn Al Ghul is about where the 'w' is of wadi rutm on the map.And I will say hi to John later on. In fact some of his images will be used in the blog for day 5 which I'm just about to upload. Roger