Saturday, 28 May 2016

Flight 20160526 - East into the Badia

The second flight of the 2016 season saw Becc and I heading east to the Azraq area, taking in Qasr Aseikhim, a wonderful and significant multi period hilltop site but which is suffering badly from the bulldozer as access roads make it more accessible.
Qasr Aseikhim showing signs of damage from bulldozing. Photographer: Rebecca Banks. APAAME_20160526_REB-0132.
We then headed to assess the impact of the construction of the Azraq by-pass on the stone built structures on the Harrat al-‘Uwaynid. It was truly depressing seeing what had been destroyed without thorough investigations (a presentation at ICHAJ13 by Romel Garib said a survey had been conducted with the help of Prof. Gary Rollefson, but no excavation); truly a missed opportunity as the area is rich in kite-sites, wheels, and pendants (one of which we have been monitoring and has had its tail smashed through – seemingly unnecessarily). These sites are representative of this part of the basalt plateau, and we know so little about them.

Friday, 27 May 2016

FL20160523 - Clouds in the North

The Aerial Archaeology in Jordan project has just begun its 20th season (after David’s flight in 1997) and it coincides with ICHAJ13- a conference to celebrate and be informed of recent archaeological work in Jordan. Balancing the commitments of the conference with trying to fly was always going to be tricky but the opportunity to undertake aerial surveys should never be missed, especially in this region.

Jordan Valley; Tabaqat Fahl
Jordan Valley near Pella. Low cloud made visibility and photography not ideal. Photographer: Robert Bewley. APAAME_20160523_RHB-0219.

Jordan never ceases to surprise, and this year has seen the demise of the Air Force’s Huey helicopters, which we had come to love – despite their the noise, and discomfort too, but also great space and views with the door open, and relatively slow speed. So, this first fight (Andrea Zerbini and I) was also experimental in learning the art of aerial photography in a new machine – the Eurocopter (or EC 635).

Monday, 23 May 2016

Kh. el-Musheirfeh and MEGA-Jordan

The Jordanian village of Kh. el-Musheirfeh lies about 4 km southwest of the major Nabataean/ Roman/ Early Islamic village/ fort/ town of Umm er-Resas. A further 4 km south is the major archaeological site of Lehun on the rim of the great trough of the Wadi Mujib.

The published literature on the site is limited and the two entries in JADIS and now in MEGA-Jordan are confused, confusing and incomplete.

‘MEGA-J 12338 Musheirifa (sic)’ locates a ‘site’ on the south side of the modern village but that turns out to be only the modern village itself.

‘MEGA-J 12349 Musheirfeh (sic)’ is located 2.5 km to the northeast of the village but in an open area with no traces of any archaeological features.

Surprisingly, therefore, the record reports material of several periods - Nabataean, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, Modern, and lists eight ‘Site Elements’ including a village, cistern, a bas relief and sherd scatters of the periods noted. The source of the information is given in two published references from the 1930s (Glueck and Savignac, below). A brief glance at these two publications confirms the obvious – there is just one site and it lies under and around the modern village. The second MEGA-J entry (12349) should be deleted and the information there should be transferred to the first entry (12338) under that spelling (as on the 1:50,000 map).

Musheirfeh is in fact an important site as the two published reports show. Glueck was there on 2 June 1933; Savignac in late April 1935. The latter knows of Glueck’s first major report on his survey which included this site but – inexplicably, does not refer to what he had published. i.e. the two reports are effectively independent of one another. Putting the two reports together allows a composite picture which can be considerably enhanced and developed by analysis of the satellite imagery on Google Earth and Bing, by interpretation of the survey aerial photographs of 1953 and the recent low-level aerial photographs taken by the Aerial Archaeology in Jordan project, all of which are in the APAAME archive.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Preflight work flow – AAJ May 2016

Our bags are packed, flights booked and we’ll be landing in Amman soon for this our 20th year of flying in Jordan (the first season was way back in 1997)!

This May will see a short series of flights, hopefully three in total – one to the north and along the Jordan Valley, one to the East into the Badia, and one to the south concentrating on the fertile Kerak Plateau.

We will also be attending the International Conference of the History and Archaeology of Jordan and look forward to seeing excellent presentations on the projects and research occurring. You can find the program on the conference website

See you in the air!