This is how it should be: 32 archaeologists in the chill of a dessert morning heading for the first digging day on site; keffiyahs slung around heads and necks, trowels and mattocks in hand; tent rings beckoning.
The team began work at the southern encampment at Bat'n Al Ghul today. Our working hypothesis is that the southern encampment was used as a construction camp during the building of the Hijaz railway.
The northern encampment, investigated last year, may also originally have been a construction camp, but our assumption is that it was reused by the ottoman army during the war in the defence of Bat'n Al Ghul station.
Our investigation today have revealed an assemblage of finds at least partially different from that in the northern encampment making it likely that our hypothesis is correct. There are fewer finds and the assemblage appears to be different in character.
The southern encampment is commanded by high ground, so it seems unlikely that it was included in the military encampment during the war, whereas the northern encampment which we investigated last year is behind the railway station, which we assume was fortified, although we can't tell this for sure because it has been bulldozed. Also the northern encampment is within the loop of the railway line which would have provided some kind of minimal defence for it.
Finds today included military buttons, a rare officer’s star shaped rank insignia, WW1 fabric, wood and coins.
Tomorrow we plan to finish our work on the southern encampment, and also to give the team an opportunity to walk up to the Ottoman fort on Fassuah ridge, because this season we don't plan to return to Bat'n all Ghul again - jut two days work this year.