Monday, May 11, 2015

Sir Alexander Kennedy (17 March 1847 – 1 November 1928)

Sir Alexander Kennedy
At the time of his first visit to Petra in 1922, Sir Alexander Kennedy was 75 years. The visit certainly made an impression on him as he arranged to return the following year to spend a month there in studying its history and antiquities.   Although he was not an archaeologist by trade (he was senior partner of an engineering firm) – he was one of those early pioneers quick to recognise the importance of aerial photography to archaeologists in attempting to understand the landscape setting, as well as the distribution and range of sites (Bewley & Kennedy 2013: 231). Kennedy lamented the lack of a thorough scientific study of the area around Petra. Of the early visitors who came after Burckhardt in 1812, many of whom were unable to remain for much more than two or three nights, he observed that “…although many published their experiences, practically nothing of scientific value resulted from their visits” (Kennedy 1924: 273).

In a talk he later gave to the Royal Geographical Society, Kennedy gives an insight into what may have driven him to devote his energy to further study of Petra – he considered Musil’s second volume of Arabia Petræa to contain the “first map which possessed any value”, and then Brünnow and Domaszewski’s maps made from their visits in 1897 and 1898 to be the most accurate. He praised their work, however, he observed omissions and guesswork - “the irregularity and roughness of the ground make it extremely difficult to cover every square yard of some 6 or 8 miles; but nothing less would be for any investigation to be entirely exhaustive” (Kennedy 1924: 274).

During his second visit to Petra in 1923, Kennedy, despite his advanced age was busily engaged in mapping and photographing the area in detail. Towards the end of the season Kennedy suffered a stroke, from which he is reported to have recovered rather quickly. Despite the physical strain of the work, he again ventured to continue his study of Petra in 1924, “having at his own expense arranged with the Air Force for a complete aerial photographic survey of the whole area”
Philby (1948: 216) recalls;
“I worked with him on the ground again, and the result was a splendid, profusely illustrated volume called Petra, to which I wrote a foreword, descriptive of the country and its people. It was a remarkable feat for a man, who had never been in the East before, to perform between his seventy-sixth and seventy-eighth years.”

Kennedy’s securing of the services of the RAF squadron at Amman enabled a vertical survey of a wide area around the city centre to be taken - an area covering c.85km2
For an audience familiar with ground views, but unable to visualise the context and landscape, this would have been revelatory. But it was more than a novel view or general photomap; Kennedy evidently examined closely those frames that covered the central area of the city.” (Bewley & Kennedy 2013: 231)
The air-plane view shows also very distinctly the lines of the Roman streets and the outlines of some of some of the principal buildings or places, and many other points quite unrecognizable on the ground. (Kennedy 1924: 278-9). 

Oblique view of Wadi Musa, Petra - Kennedy (1925) Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Bewley, R. & Kennedy, D. (2013). Historical Aerial Imagery in Jordan and the Wider Middle East, in: W. S. Hanson & I. A. Oltean (eds) Archaeology from Historical Aerial and Satellite Archives. London: Springer: 221-242.
Kennedy, A. B. W. (1924). The rocks and monuments of Petra. The Geographical Journal, 63.4: 273-295.
Kennedy, A. B. W. (1925). Petra. Its history and monuments. London: Country Life.
Philby, H. StJ. B. (1948). Arabian Days. An autobiography. London: Robert Hale Limited.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Publications: Thapsacus and Zeugma

A recently published book East and West in the World Empire of Alexander: Essays in Honour of Brian Bosworth contains a chapter on Thapsacus and Zeugma contributed by David L. Kennedy.

David L. Kennedy (2015) 'Thapsacus and Zeugma' in P. Wheatley and E. Baynham (eds) East and West in the World Empire of Alexander: Essays in Honour of Brian Bosworth: 277-298
For more details please visit the Oxford University Press page.

From the Oxford University Press website:  
"The essays in this volume - written by twenty international scholars - are dedicated to Professor Brian Bosworth who has, in over forty-five years, produced arguably the most influential corpus of historical and historiographical research by one scholar. Professor Bosworth's name is often synonymous with scholarship on Alexander the Great, but his expertise also spreads far wider, as the scope of these essays demonstrates. The collection's coverage ranges from Egyptian and Homeric parallels, through Roman historiography, to Byzantine coinage.
However, the life of Alexander provides the volume's central theme, and among the topics explored are the conqueror's resonance with mythological figures such as Achilles and Heracles, his divine pretensions and military display, and his motives for arresting his expedition at the River Hyphasis in India. Some of Alexander's political acts are also scrutinized, as are the identities of those supposedly present in the last symposium where, according to some sources, the fatal poison was administered to the king. Part of the collection focuses on Alexander's legacy, with seven essays examining the Successors, especially Craterus, and Ptolemy, and Alexander's ill-fated surviving dynasty, including Olympias, Eurydice, and Philip III Arrhidaeus."

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

New Book on Southern Jordan

Burton MacDonald has had his most recent book just published. It covers southern Jordan where he has conducted successive field surveys over some 40 years and include several APAAME aerial photos.

Chapters survey the successive periods from the Bronze Age to the end of Ottoman rule, each illustrated with useful maps and grounded in his own extensive survey results.

MacDonald, B. (2015) The Southern Jordan Edomite Plateau and the Dead Sea Rift Valley. The Bronze Age to the Islamic Period (3800/3700 BC – AD 1917), Oxford (Oxbow). Ix + 118; 49 colour plates.*

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

New publication on Maitland's Mesa and Wisad Pools, Jordan.

The "land of conjecture:" New late prehistoric discoveries at Maitland's Mesa and Wisad Pools, Jordan. 

A new publication in the Journal of Field Archaeology features APAAME imagery of Maitland's Mesa (Maitland's Fort).

"Qattafi Mesa 4 (Maitland's Fort)"
APAAME_20100601_SES-0095 © Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East.

"Major cultural transformations took place in the southern Levant during the late prehistoric periods (ca. late 7th–4th millennia B.C. ). Agropastoralists expanded into areas previously only sparsely occupied and secondary animal products played an increasingly important economic role. In the arable parts of the southern Levant, the olive in particular became increasingly significant and may have played a part in expanded exchange contacts in the region. Technological expertise developed in craft production, and the volume and diversity of status goods increased, particularly in funerary contexts. Mortuary and other ritual practices became increasingly pronounced. General study syntheses, however, rarely include more than a cursory mention of the more arid regions of the southern Levant (i.e., Negev, eastern and southern Jordan, and Syria). Recent investigations indicate that intensive exploitation of the regions may date to these late prehistoric periods, yet this evidence has been difficult to attribute to specific chronological period or cultural affiliations. The Eastern Badia Archaeological Project investigates two regions for a potential florescence of building and occupation during the late prehistoric periods in the eastern desert of Jordan."

The article will be made available through Maney Online:
Rowan, Y.M., Rollefson, G. O., Wasse, A., Abu-Azizeh, W., Hill, A. C. and Kersel, M. M. (2015) "The ‘‘land of conjecture:’’ New late prehistoric discoveries at Maitland’s Mesa and Wisad Pools, Jordan", Journal of Field Archaeology 40: 176-189"

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Flight 20141019 - A new Edomite Stronghold

On Flight 20141019 from Amman to Aqaba six photographs were taken of the dramatic landscape looking west from Qasr Rajif over Wadi Suweid cutting through the sandstone peaks. Unbeknownst to us at the time, the photographs capture the site of an Edomite Fortress.
Wadi Suweid; el-Manktaa (Edomite Fortress)
'el-Manktaa' (Edomite Fortress) - APAAME_20141019_RHB-0287.
Prof. Chaim Ben David alerted us to the existence of the site, known as 'el-Manktaa' to the Bedouins, after he viewed the photographs on our Flickr. His ready knowledge and identification of the site probably due to the fact he had coincidentally visited it just a few months earlier.
The bridge to the site as seen from the wadi valley below. Photograph by Boaz Langford, courtesy of Chaim Ben David.
Following information from fellow hikers Eli Raz and Lior Enmar, who were aware of the phenomenon of Edomite mountain strongholds, in July 2014 Chaim visited two new, apparently as yet undocumented mountain strongholds in the sandstone area below the village of Rajef. The sites are about three kilometers south of Qseir, the southernmost known stronghold until this latest discovery.
Crossing the bridge to the site. Photograph by Boaz Langford, courtesy of Chaim Ben David.
The isolation of the site in the landscape is easily discernible on Google Maps (click here to go to the location). The small Bedouin constructed bridge used by Chaim and his companions to cross into the site can just be seen on the satellite imagery across the fissure that marks the western boundary of the stronghold. Structures are not readily visible on the satellite imagery, or on the low level obliques taken by AAJ, but photographs taken by Boaz Langford from the visit with Chaim show collapsed stone built structures.

Evidence of stone structures at the site. Photograph by Boaz Langford, courtesy of Chaim Ben David.
Chaim’s information means that we can add the coordinates of these sites to future AAJ flight routes, so that the site may be captured in full instead of in a lucky low level oblique landscape shot. Moreover, our better understanding of this type of site means in future we will be better able to discern these sites from the air. Chaim has offered his knowledge to the identification of many sites taken during the Aerial Archaeology in Jordan project's seasons of flying, and taken us on a couple of his amazing hikes across the landscape to investigate features further. Many thanks!

Following is an excerpt from Chaim Ben-David’s forthcoming publication in ARAM Periodical:
“You who live in the clefts of the rocks” (Jer.49:16): 
Edomite Mountain Strongholds in Southern Jordan

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Goodbye 2014

What a year it has been!

6 flights of aerial reconnaissance as part of the Aerial Archaeology in Jordan Project 2014
9,522 aerial photographs taken as part of the Aerial Archaeology in Jordan Project 2014
3,216 slides/film digitised
17,344 images cataloged and uploaded to our Flickr archive

Conferences attended:
  • David Kennedy and Rebecca Banks, 'The Khatt Shebib in Jordan: from air and space', Zeitschrift für Orient-Archäologie
  • David L. Kennedy and Brett D. Hirsch, 'Prime Suspect: William Cowper Prime in the Holy Land and the identity of 'An American' in Harper's New Monthly Magazine, 1858', Palestine Exploration Quarterly
  • David Kennedy, Rebecca Banks and Matthew Dalton, 'Kites in Saudi Arabia'

Monday, December 15, 2014

Research: Robert Alexander MacLean

Amongst the pioneers of Aerial Archaeology – albeit on a peripheral level, is this enigmatic character.

The American Journal of Archaeology for January-March 1923 published the abstracts of lectures given the previous December at the annual conference of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA). One abstract is entitled “The Aeroplane and archaeology”, the author a professor at University of Rochester in New York State. Sadly, never published and tantalizing because of what MacLean had to say:
“Among the many services which the aeroplane is rendering at the present time not the least is the aid which it is giving in archaeological discovery. In countries such as Mesopotamia where there are few maps to guide the archaeologist, and in portions of Arabia which are difficult of access by ordinary means of travel, the aeroplane has already proved to be a valuable subsidiary help in making preliminary surveys, and in locating historical ruins and the possible sites of ancient cities. Two illustrations will suffice. This last summer I went by aeroplane from Amman in Transjordania to visit some Roman ruins at ‘Kasr Azraq’ in the Syrian desert. … Another noteworthy feature was the presence on the oasis of about twenty pools of clear cold water surrounded by a Roman wall. It was interesting to observe that while this wall, only portions of which remain, could hardly be distinguished by an observer on the ground, its alignment and complete circuit of the pools could be seen clearly from the air.

My second illustration is from Mesopotamia. Among the many lost cities of ancient times may be mentioned two which Xenophon speaks of in the Anabasis …. Until quite recently the difficulty in determining the site of these two cities was due to the fact that the course of the Tigris in ancient times was not known to us. But by recent observations and photographs taken from the air it is now pretty well established that that portion of the Tigris which lies to the east of Xenophon's Median Wall had its bed about fifteen miles to the west of the present bed of the river. The depression seen from the air and the line of mounds along the depression were the clues which led to what is thought to be the discovery of the sites of both Opis and Sittace.”

Quite apart from what MacLean is ‘discovering’ from the air and what other aerial photographs he may have had, is the puzzle about how he came to be in a position to fly over these places at all, especially in the case of Azraq which was the specific object of the flight.
Qasr el-Azraq
Qasr el-Azraq today. APAAME_20080909_IAR-0205.
MacLean is an intriguing character and deserving of a fuller treatment which can to some extent be done thanks to a large number of small snippets of information available elsewhere. Here it is just possible to sketch a few details relevant to Aerial Archaeology at what is a very early date for such work in the Middle East – Poidebard only arrived in Syria to begin his flying programme in 1925.

MacLean, the son of Scottish immigrants to Canada, is said to have been:
“… teaching at the University of Manitoba when World War One broke out. He enlisted immediately, in August, 1914, in the Winnipeg Grenadiers and landed in England with the first Canadian contingent in October of that year. He was commissioned as an officer in the British Imperial Army in January, 1915, and served in France for eight months. In 1916 he was sent to the Middle East where he served in various capacities and in various countries - Mesopotamia, Persia, Arabia, and India. For the last year of the war he was engaged in political work, coming into contact with such personalities as Gertrude Bell, H. St. John Philby, Sir Percy Cox, and Col. T. E. Lawrence.”

He is described as having “served as staff captain under General Maude, being engaged particularly in intelligence and political work” and elsewhere he said he “arrived in Bagdad with the British army on 11 March 1917”. MacLean was soon moved westwards and is described as having been a “member of General Allenby’s staff when the British army marched on Jerusalem”.

In the magazine of his university he recounts the flight of 1922 which evidently included the flight to Azraq. Although he does not say so, he was evidently flying across Jordan and Iraq in one of the RAF aircraft of the newly developed Airmail Route from Egypt to Basra, initiated in June-July 1921. The few passengers carried were normally only service or important government personnel, implying MacLean had some influence.

MacLean explains he was in Baghdad as part of the celebration marking the laying of the foundation stone of the University of Baghdad and that he also met King Feisal. Returning west, his aeroplane had engine trouble and they had to land and spend a night in the desert.

There is much more one may add but two salient points to note are that MacLean is untraceable in the records of those who have spent many years researching military intelligence in the Middle East during the First World War. On the other hand, if he was – like that other oddity in the region, Richard Meinerzhagen, a fantasist, he nevertheless seems to have known enough people of influence to be given a flight to Azraq, taken on two trips on the new Airmail Route, perhaps also flown by the RAF in Iraq and supplied with some aerial photos for his lecture.

Sadly, one avenue of research is closed. MacLean’s sole child, a son, is long dead and had been estranged from his father for many years; the son’s children, brought up in France and French citizens, came to me for information about their grandfather.

But there must be some record of his First World War service and perhaps how that led to his flights in 1922. Perhaps he really did know Bell, Philby, Cox and Lawrence. In 1922 the senior British Political Officer in what they still called Transjordania was … Harry Philby. Shortly after MacLean flew across Jordan, Meinerzhagen crossed it on the ground. At the far end of the route, MacLean would have found the British residents of Baghdad included both Gertrude Bell (Oriental Secretary) and Sir Percy Cox (High Commissioner for Iraq).

Many of the personal details of MacLean’s long life and career have been traced as have his publications (including two books published privately). The gap is his military service.

– David Kennedy