Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Day 3 - Orientation

Today we traveled initially to the station complex at Ma'an. As well as station related buildings, this site also contains the original Royal Hashemite palace, representing the first movement from living in and on the desert to fixed buildings by the First King of Trans Jordan, King Abdullah the First, who was the Emir of Mecca. The building itself is more elaborate than most and was originally built for the chief engineer of the railway. Since then it has temporarily been used as a museum, housing one of the three important battle flags together with other items, and the site itself is now being substantially restored to achieve that end again. Other buildings with working equipment are planned and partly finished demonstrating aspects of railway activity. This place was the hub of military activity which took place in the region, and is adjacent to the Hill of the Birds where one of, if not the best, example of established trench systems and redoubts from the conflict in WW1 in Jordan. GARPers who have been to Ma'an before noted how much this site has been developed since we last visited a few years ago.

We then moved up to the trenches and redoubts themselves to see first hand the remains of these and their location within the landscape. The trenches stretch out along the top of the ridge of the Hill of the Birds and offer a commanding view of the valley floor, representing a convincing defensive position for the station complex and the town outskirts. This site was where the  biggest of the actual battles took place, and in the past we have found much evidence of the conflict here, including both incoming and fired munitions of both sides.

We then went to view a new site - the Fort at Uneyza. This is a 16th century Ottoman fort containing arched rooms and first floor rooms.

After spending some time there and having lunch we crossed the main King's Highway to the other side, where the station buildings at Uneyza remain in various states of repair and refurbishment. This was also a miltarised site and subject to attack during the Arab Revolt. Whilst there some of our party managed to get a ride in a rail cart propelled by a line vehicle, to the great amusement of the local staff.

Then those who felt able enough moved to the base of the nearby trench system at Uneyza, which is physically carved into the rock of the hillside. This involved a challenging walk over difficult terrain.

Tomorrow the main work begins and we move to a site to dig. 

No comments:

Post a Comment