Up at 6.00 am for breakfast then loaded up the bus and 4x4's with tools and provisions for the day. We set off at about 7.30 for the drive back to Wadi Rutm fort to continue the work. Shortly after passing through Ma'an we met a police road block which stopped us re-entering the Kings Highway to travel south to the site. We were informed there was 'some police action' further down the road, and the double road block here and 200 metres further down the road made it clear nothing was going that way for a while.
As it happened we had stopped near the foot of the Hill of The Birds, the site of the first main activity on year's one and two of our digs in Jordan, and the subject of the photograph at the top of this page. You can clearly see to the right of that image, behind the smiling local boy, the sand filled remains of the trenches that were used to defend Ma'an station during one of the major battles in this region. It was here that we have previously found a large quantity of evidence of the military conflict surrounding Ma'an station, including incoming rounds, spent cartridges for outgoing fire, many uniform buttons and the like.
As we were so near to the station we headed down there for a while to show the new members of the team this site and to wander among the newly refurbished buildings. It is intended that this becomes a main heritage site for the region and to that end several improvements have been made, including the construction of a car park and other amenities. (images to follow).
We were then informed the road was clear and so carried on down to Wadi Rutm fort.
Here the finds have mirrored those described above so far, although to a much smaller scale and with the total absence of uniform buttons. (Images to follow).
This presents a puzzle. Why do some sites have a very large incidence of lost military buttons and others have virtually none? Is it that the different forces involved with the sites had variant uniforms? Or better thread? Or simply picked up their lost buttons and sewed them on again? Or was the level and type of conflict different and that produced the large loss in one circumstance and not another? We continue to think and discuss this, with new ideas and theories from within the group being put forward all the time. Maybe you have a theory?
More pictures of the work and site from today: (Click for larger versions of the images, and a gallery view)
Also many of us wear a traditional Jordanin Keffiyeh when in the desert, for protection from the sun, sand and wind. Consequently new team members sometimes find themselves in a local shop purchasing said item. Here is Rob trying on his new scarf and showing how the shopkeeper told him to wear the tassle from the headband.
More from the work at Wadi Rutm fort tomorrow.