Friday 13 April 2012

Chronology: Kites and Wheels

Determining the date for an archaeological site is best determined by excavation, but relative chronologies can be determined by examination of a very simple interaction - what lies on top of something else?

In the stone built structures of the Harret al-Shaam, we have been observing what kinds of sites are most likely to overlie others.

In the Jordan section of the Harret al-Shaam it is most likely, where Wheels and Kites are located in the same area, to see a Wheel manipulating or lying over the structure of a Kite. This most often involves the wheel overlying or using the wall of the tail of a kite, but there are also examples of the structure of the head being manipulated or built over by a Wheel. This chronology suggests that Wheels are a later structure than the Kites. In turn it is possible to see Pendants and Corrals overlying Wheels.

Azraq Wheel 11 overlying tail of Kite 21; Azraq Wheel 173 overlying head of Kite 55; Safawi Pendant 4 overlying Wheel 282. Images: Google Earth. Click to enlarge.

Kites > Wheels > Pendants ≥ Corrals

A recent investigation of a group of Kites located on the Harret in Syria, however, does not follow this broad relative chronology. In a tangle involving no less than 14 Kites and 25 Wheels, four Wheels overlie sections of four Kites, while two Kites can be seen to overlie sections of two Wheels.

Ghadir al Hajj tail of Kite 7 overying Wheel 22; Kite 10 overlying Wheel 24; Wheel 25 overling Kite 11, both overlain by corrals. Images: Google Earth. Click to enlarge.

So, simply an exception to the rule? Investigation will have to continue...

Thursday 5 April 2012

Flickr Featured Sets

Over the last couple of days I have been looking through the Flickr archive and updated a few of our sets.

In 'Tracking Change' we set out to fly over a handfull of sites regularly in the course of our flying seasons to photograph the changes that are occuring, whether they be seasonal, environmental or man made. We have also included a set named 'Development Impacts' which gives examples of the kinds of human activity that are encroaching on Jordan's heritage.
Some sites that have particularly changed over recent years are:
  • Yajuz: a small Roman town on the outskirts of modern day Amman
  • Qasr el-Mshatta: a 'desert castle' located near Queen Alia Airport
  • Jarash: one of the best preserved archaeological sites in Jordan which is the focus of ongoing excavation and reconstruction
  • Azraq Shishan: the oasis of Azraq that was (and is) severly under threat from overuse of its water, but has in recent years become a nature reserve in an effort to bring life back to the dying wetlands.
In 'Featured Sets' we hope to build a collection of sets that will act as introductions to the various site types and time periods that are evident in Jordan's archaeological landscape. Our collections so far include
  • General Showcase: a selection of some of our favourite sites and photos of Jordan
  • Classical Showcase: Classical (Greek and Roman period) sites in Jordan
  • Kites: photographs of the various stone build structures known as Kites
  • Wheels: a selection of the numerous and somewhat enigmatic circular structures known as Wheels
  • Desert 'Castles': popular tourist attraction in Jordan, the scale and layout of these often impressively preserved structures is highly visible from above
  • The Hejaz Railway and World War One: the archaeology of modern conflict is still clear throughout parts of Jordan. This set introduces trenches and railway remains from this period, well known for the Great Arab Revolt and exploits of T. E. Lawrence
  • Biblical Sites: Jordan is the setting of many episodes from the Bible, and this set features some of the known sites mentioned in the Bible that we have visited.
If you want to see more photographs of a particular site, or we haven't featured one you are interested in, please use the search tool at the top right hand corner of Flickr's site window, being sure to select "Search APAAME's Photostream".

If you have any site types or periods that you think we should feature or photograph in future, please let us know!