Delayed start today as we had to wait for the bus to have a new tyre fitted before departure. Then, to compound the frustration even more, the bus had another flat tyre on the way down towards Tel el Shahm. The wheel was stuck on the studs, and in the end only the assistance of a passing truck driver together with the skills of Salah and help from team members combined to enable us to free the wheel and replace it.
Onwards to Tel El Shahm, this time south of the fort on the hill where we split into two groups. The first remained there working on the rings and other features discovered nearby, including a larger stone walled structure built into the nearby hill side, which was cleared of years of wind-blown sand for further analysis later. The ring rows themselves were further examined for metal and other finds, and several more were excavated. In the meantime much of this site was traversed by our photographer, systematically recording all of the examined features for the archive.
The second group headed down further south, to take a first proper look at one of the fortifications at Ramlah which had been discovered by the walkers yesterday. On approach this was clearly structured in such a way that none of us had seen before, with crudely made low openings in the stone walls, looking exactly like prone rifle firing positions. However the detectorists found no evidence of these ever being used as such, nor indeed much metal presence of any kind, including rubbish, at the site at all. This is likely to indicate that if the structure was designed as a defensive position on the line it probably wasn’t ever used in anger, as one would expect to find some evidence of expended munitions and the usual lost items associated with military presence, such as buckles, buttons and Ottoman or other coins.
The archaeologists will continue to excavate both sites tomorrow to see if any further clues can be found to uncover the purpose off these, their span of usage and their occupants.
Another video from the air now, with the helicopter flying down the Hijaz railway past two static German railway carriages that have remained in position there since World Ward One. A third carriage is now in a museum at Amman, and a trawl back through previous year’s blogs will show three at this place, and also photographs of the German manufacturers makers plate from the side of one of them.