Tuesday 14 October 2014

Flight 20141013 - Flying South

Qasr Mshatta under cloud - © APAAME_20141013_REB-0028
The second day of the season started with good weather and permission to go south and be allowed access to Qasr Mshatta (an Islamic hunting lodge) now situated on the north edge of the runway at Queen Alia International airport. Unfortunately on arrival the site was cloud-covered but we were welcomed by a wonderful waft of bread being baked in the nearby factory. We moved on south to Machaerus – famous (or infamous) for being the location where John the Baptist lost his head, thanks to Salome’s nefarious activities. It was the subject of a siege by the Romans, trying to recapture it after the Jewish Revolt (AD 66-70), and now undergoing excavations by a Hungarian team.  The siege works are still visible with approximately 10 Roman camps on the surrounding hills.
Machaerus - © APAAME_20141013_RHB-0063
Further south, near the southern edge of the Dead Sea we photographed looting, on a massive scale, of the cemeteries around Fifi, Safi and al-Mazraa (Kh. Qazone).  Our spirits were lifted by some photography of Umm-er Resas (a superb Roman fort and later Islamic town and early seat of learning); then by a return to visit to Qasr Mshatta, this time bathed in sunshine and the smell of bread,  even more appealing as lunch-time approached.
Extensive looting near Safi - the site of Maqbarat Al-Nage'a - © APAAME_20141013_REB-0307
Umm er-Resas - APAAME_20141013_REB-0224
On our third and final trip, and looking for the last site of the day we were having difficultly locating it, not least because of having to keep away from approaching air traffic into Marka (our base) but also because the whole area had been eaten away by massive stone quarries.  We spotted a possible location and as we orbited we realised that we had stumbled across an abandoned Roman (?) quarry with stone columns and sections of unfinished stone,  still visible in the limestone outcrop.  Once again a hugely important site, within a few metres of large destructive modern quarries.  Our pilot (who was having to work on his birthday) took us down to a few feet above the site so we could record it in detail.

Roman (?) Column Quarry east of Marka APAAME_20141013_MND-0768
 - Robert Bewley

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