Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Day 6 – A Ridge Too Far

Work shifted today to Fassu-ah ridge, the hilltop enclosure which overlooks Batn Al Ghul camp and offers commanding views down the Wadi Batn Al Ghul and the Wadi Rutm beyond.

Though ruinous and much damaged by gold digging holes, the site is an impressive combination of central strongpoint and large walled enclosure. Early Islamic pottery has been found nearby and the fortification itself almost certainly has a medieval origin. We suspect it served and protected the traditional routeway of trade and pilgrimage dating back thousands of years, and that camel caravans may have overnighted inside the enclosure.

Finds from the site confirm Ottoman re-use during the Arab revolt. These include Ottoman military buttons and fired Mauser rounds. In addition our metal detectorists recovered a British Army button and there was speculation as to which British Liason officer serving with the Arab forces Officer on site might have lost his button!

While our landscape archaeologist and two assistants produced a ground plan of the site, the rest of the team excavated a number of carefully targeted trenches designed to answer questions about the date and purpose of different parts of the complex. In one room of the central strongpoint we may have found the remains of the Ottoman cookhouse.

While all that was going on another team investigated two sites containing potential Ottoman soldier burials. After several hours excavation it became clear that while superficially interesting in the event no evidence supported the prior theory.

Subsequently the same team trekked up a previously unexplored ridge to the north north east of Batn Al Ghul station. This geographical feature would have been strategically important for observing any enemy approaching the station from this direction. No obvious military structures were found but it is likely that the fractured geology would have been used by a number of Ottoman observers to give advance warning of any oncoming enemy.

No comments: