Windy Azraq

Another few days have passed and the field work is now in full swing. We’ve got a number of test pits and some survey going in the Azraq area of eastern Jordan. Nothing too exciting yet as we’ve mostly been making our way through the upper disturbed portions and will only be coming down on any cultural material in the next day or two. Based on last years test pits we can expect Kebaran, possibly Upper Paleolithic, Middle Paleolithic, and even Lower Paleolithic. In addition to the rich paleolithic history in Azraq there is also a significant Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, and Crusader marker on the landscape. Azraq is home to the famous Azraq castle that was built by the Romans, occupied by various groups over time, and used by Lawrence of Arabia. A castle in the distance makes for nice scenery while working in the excavation units!

Castle1

To help ourselves out a bit this year we have rented a local wedding tent to provide some shade over the excavation units. The tent is basically a six legged frame with three cross-beams (all of substantial size and weight) that support very nicely decorated canvas segments (two on the roof and three sides). Unfortunately I don’t have a picture yet but the outsides are plain beige and when you step inside you get confronted by vibrant colours and memsmerizing geometric patterns. As a shade it has been working great, making the days a bit less draining by keeping the sun of our backs. However, in the afternoon today the winds really picked up from the west-southwest almost lifting the tent like a kite. It took five of our crew members plus one friendly and incredibly helpful local to keep the thing from taking off. We tied every possible piece of rope we had to rocks, trees, and fences plus we anchored the leg posts with the biggest boulders I could carry. After about an hour we felt confident it would make it through the storm. Now, as I sit here in the lodge, I am question whether it will be there in the morning. The wind is howling and whipping things around as though they were wieghtless. All of the trees in the area are being held at a significant angle and before the sun went down the skies looked particularly daunting. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the night brings and then assess the damage in the morning. Reconstrcuting the tent is a setback we would all really like to avoid!

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