Thursday, April 24, 2014

Publications: 'Nomad Villages' in North-Eastern Jordan

The May 2014 edition of Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy features a new publication by David Kennedy.

Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 25.1 May 2014'Nomad Villages' in north-eastern Jordan: from Roman Arabia to Umayyad Urdunn
David L. Kennedy
Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy, Volume 25 (May 2014): 96-109
Available through Wiley Online Library :

Contemporary with the well known and striking Desert Castles and Qusur of the desert steppe in the early Islamic period in the Near East emerged another group of sites - dispersed villages, here termed 'Nomad Villages'. Kennedy's article, amply accompanied by photographs and plans, augments recent discoveries and fieldwork to enrich our knowledge of the traces of these dispersed settlements.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Workshop: Introduction to Aerial Archaeology March 2014

At the beginning of March this year you may remember that our Bob Bewley was about to hold an Aerial Archaeology Workshop with Dr Fawzi Abudanah at the Department of Archaeology, Al-Hussein Bin Talal University, Petra, Jordan. 

Initially it was intended the workshop would accommodate ten students drawn from the campus’ Archaeology and Tourism courses. Increased interest in the course saw numbers rise at times to twenty students, so the workshop adapted to be delivered in a lecture/seminar style over three days (March 2nd – March 4th).

Students experiencing aerial photography in 3D - thanks to some old-school glasses.
Talks and presentations gave way to seminar and group discussions on air photo interpretation. This included time devoted to ‘photo reading’ where students were given the opportunity to develop their practical skills in interpretation and observation and produce plans in a final mapping exercise. Due to variability in the understanding and speaking of English, Dr Abudanah translated to and from Arabic for the benefit of students and Dr Bewley. This had the added advantage that students had more time to consider what was being said and/or shown to them. The in-depth discussions that followed demonstrated the interest of the students and their developing understanding on the nature and use of aerial survey for archaeology.

Students work on a photo reading and mapping exercise.
It is hoped a small number from this course will now be able to join the Aerial Archaeology in Jordan Project for a day or so in the planned aerial reconnaissance season in October 2014 to continue their training.

Thanks must be given to Dr Fawzi Abudanah for facilitating and helping organise the Workshop, the Department of Archaeology at Al-Hussein Bin Talal University for hosting, the Palestine Exploration Fund’s grant for Dr Bob Bewley’s participation, and the support of the Packhard Humanitites Institute for the continuing Aerial Archaeology in Jordan project.
Workshop participants with Dr Bob Bewley, Dr. Saad Twaissi (Dean of the Petra College for Tourism and Archaeology) and Dr Fawzi Abudanah in the front row (from the right).

Monday, March 10, 2014

Archive: UPenn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology Film Archives

"The formidable mountains of Arabia Petraea still loomed miles away."

The Film Archives of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology have been digitised and made available online thanks to the generosity of the 'Internet Archive'.

A silent film by Arthur and Kate Tode from 1930 is an interesting glimpse of travel in the Middle East between the wars. There are some stunning views of Petra [4:01] including a rare occurrence of  snowfall [17:05] (apparently the first time it had snowed in Petra in 30 years), footage of the Umayyad Mosque of Damascus [24:02], the Ctesiphon Arch [33:00], the ruins of Babylon [37:14] and Ur [43:00], and also some aerial footage towards the end [50:30].

The Internet Archive site provides a transcript of the silent film's narrative.

You can access the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology Films collection at The Internet Archive here.

You can access the Museum website here:

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Research - KSA 3925-41 - Samhah Kite 35

I have been able to return to some analysis on the many kites in the vicinity of Khaybar in Saudi Arabia today. The good news is that Google Earth has updated imagery in the area, bad news is it looks like some of the kites are a little worse for wear in the face of development. Fortunately we still have the historical imagery to conduct some analysis on the complete site - a bold example of the Kites typical to this region. What is striking in this example is the very straight walls, and numerous hides lined along the pointed extensions of the head. Another feature is the 'barbed' tails of the kite - almost secondary head enclosures connected to the tails close to the head of the kite.
KSA 1:50,000 map square 3925-41 - Samhah Kite 35 on imagery dated 20030106. Click to enlarge.
KSA 1:50,000 map square 3925-41 - Samhah Kite 35 on imagery dated 20121213. Click to enlarge.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Workshop: Introduction to Aerial Archaeology Mar 2-4 2014

Introduction to Aerial Archaeology Workshop, in Jordan.
March 2nd to 4th 2014 
at the 
with Dr Robert Bewley and Dr Fawzi Abudanah

We are happy that we are currently holding our first workshop on Aerial Archaeology in Jordan since 2008 through coordination with Dr. Fawzi Abudanah (who joined our workshop in 2007). We are keen to keep the momentum going for training in this specialised subject in Jordan and the greater 'Middle East'. In February 2013 we were invited to hold a workshop on Aerial Archaeology in Qatar, at the invitation of the Institute of Archaeology (part of University College, London's department there) which was very successful. See blogs: 'Qatar Workshop in Aerial Archaeology - Zubara' and guest blog by Włodzimierz Rączkowski.

Students at the Department of Archaeology will be introduced to origins and aims of aerial archaeology, as well as learning about air photo interpretation. They will be given exercises in interpretation and mapping using examples from Jordan, Europe and Britain. The workshop will conclude with a discussion on the application of aerial archaeology in heritage management and its relevance in the Middle East.

Additional thanks must be given to the Palestine Exploration Fund's grant for allowing this to happen and the continual support of the Packhard Humanities Institute for the Aerial Archaeology in Jordan project.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Archives: The G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection

The G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection is housed at the Library of Congress, Washington.

The collection began as a result of the founding of a photo department at the American Colony in Jerusalem c. 1898, and continued after the break up of the Colony under the direction of G. Eric Matson and his wife Edith as the Matson Photo Service. It was donated to the Library of Congress by Eric Matson in during the 1960s.

Castle of Salkhad. Closer view of the picturesque castle

It is a rich source of historical images of the Middle East. Though the majority of the items depict Palestine where the Colony and the Matsons were based, there are numerous historical photographs of Amman and other locations in Jordan, as well as other major centres in the Middle East. Of particular interest are the numerous aerial photographs taken - many on the Cairo to Baghdad Airmail Route.

The majority of the collection is in the Public Domain thanks to the original conditions of the donation. The fantastic digitisation program by the Library of Congress means you can access those images online:

We have gone through the collection and found the majority of the aerial photographs and created an individual set in our Flickr archive: Where not already known we have endeavoured to identify all of the sites in the photographs and georeference them. In addition to this you will find the Library of Congress online database reference information. In this Flickr set we hope to highlight the part of the collection that is aerial photography, as well to those that depict archaeological sites. We have paid particular attention to the ruins of Amman, ancient Philadelphia.

For more information on the collection please go to the Library of Congress website: If you wish to access the original photographs or want unwatermarked digital copies please visit the Library of Congress website. We have provided the reference numbers for the items and links to their item records for this reason. APAAME holds no rights to these images and merely wishes to add to the information held regarding them in the Public Domain.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Publications: Remote Sensing and ‘Big Circles’ A New Type of Prehistoric Site in Jordan and Syria

The most recent annual edition of the periodical Zeitschrift für Orient-Archäologie (ZOrA) features a research article by Professor David Kennedy on a series of 'Big Circle' stone structures.
Circle 3
APAAME_20081008_DLK-0287 Photographer: David Kennedy.
Abstract from the article:
Circular stone structures are common throughout the Middle East and can date to almost any period. To date at least 12 examples have been recorded in Jordan but now a single further example near Homs in Syria has been published. The latter is one of the few to have been examined in some detail on the ground; most are known only from brief reports although all the Jordanian examples may be viewed on the Flickr site of the Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East (APAAME). Dating is problematic in every case, though they seem certainly to be pre-Roman.

David Kennedy (2013) Remote Sensing and ‘Big Circles’: A New Type of Prehistoric Site in Jordan and Syria, Zeitschrift für Orient-Archäologie 6: 44-63.