The Fourth Fieldwork Season of the Great Arab Revolt Project (GARP) begins in November 2009. As in the previous two seasons this site will host a daily blog from the desert, reporting up to the minute discoveries and finds. More information concerning the project may be found below and from the links on the right.
The Fourth Fieldwork Season
Tuesday 17th November – Tuesday 1st December 2009
The Great Arab Revolt Project (GARP) is planned as a ten-year project to investigate First World War archaeology in Jordan and develop new heritage sites for visitors. In contrast to the Western Front, where considerable fieldwork has taken place, First World War remains in Jordan have never been systematically investigated. These remains have particular interest for four reasons:
- they are associated with the exploits and legend of Lawrence of Arabia, an iconic historical and cultural figure in the English-speaking world
- they represent a struggle that was central to the creation of the states and conflicts of the modern Middle East
- they represent the archaeological imprint of a distinctive type of irregular or guerrilla warfare which has been of huge historical importance over the last 90 years
- they offer a range of military landscapes, sites and artefact assemblages, and a range of memories, associations and modern significances, which contrast with the more familiar archaeology, commemoration and tourism of the Western Front
Our aim, working closely with Jordanian colleagues and local communities, is to catalogue the visible remains (buildings and earthworks), to carry out surveys and trial excavations at a representative sample of sites, to record oral histories and folk memories, and to develop one or more sites for effective public presentation.
Work in the first two seasons (November 2006 and November 2007) focused on two main areas, Ma’an, and Wadi Rutm/Batn Al-Ghoul, supported by extensive survey of the surrounding landscape as far as the Saudi border in the south and Shobek in the north. Ma’an was the principal Ottoman military base in what is now southern Jordan, and we have established that the high ground for miles around the Hijaz railway station was entrenched in 1916–1918, transforming the area into a First World War trench fortress. Wadi Rutm, about 60 km south of Ma’an, is the site of a fortified railway station, an Ottoman army camp, a fortified hilltop redoubt, and various other military features on and close to the former railway line extending in both directions. While Ma’an represents a major, heavily defended base, Wadi Rutm represents the militarization of communication lines and the landscape more generally.
Last season (November 2008), we extended our focus northwards to Fassu’ah Ridge, the possible Ottoman command-and-control base for the entire Batn Al-Ghoul/Wadi Rutm area. This site occupies a stunning location on top of an escarpment overlooking Wadi Rutm and comprises perimeter walls built of dry-stone masonry, many with shallow trenches behind, and a central defensive block-house complex. We carried out a comprehensive record of all the standing remains, and clarified details through surface clearance and shallow excavation in certain areas. We also carried out further survey work to set the fort in its wider context, including recording the bread ovens and discovering the mule lines.
At Batn Al-Ghoul Ottoman Army camp, which comprised about 50 tent rings, we established that there was excellent preservation of in-situ organic remains reflecting the character of Ottoman military occupation in the later stages of the war. (it was from here, that we recovered part of an Ottoman military uniform in 2007). Post excavation analysis of these finds will be carried out to maximise the amount of detail we recover about activity in and around the rings.
The Great Arab Revolt Project is based at the University of Bristol, and is supported by the Jordanian Department of Antiquities, the al-Hussein bin Talal University, the Jordan Museum in Amman, the Council for British Research in the Levant, HRH Prince Hassan, and Current World Archaeology magazine.
The 2009 fieldwork season
As the aim of the project in its first five year phase is to explore the theme of desert warfare between Ma’an and Mudawwara, work will continue in 2009 to investigate other desert fortifications and camps along the line of the Hijaz Railway.
For a full copy of the prospectus for this season and to find out more about the project, please click on the 'Download 2009 prospectus' and 'GARP web site' links in the right hand panel.