Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Bulletin 18 (June 2008)

Back to Jordan with the Military

Last November, as reported on the GARP Website, we archaeologists bumped into a group of British soldiers on exercise in southern Jordan. They had been following our progress via Roger’s daily blog and tracked us down to find out what exactly we were up to in such a wilderness (They thought they were the only Brits mad enough to be only 40kms from the Saudi border!). Neil and I spoke briefly with them at both Wadi Rtm and Ma’an, and exchanged details.

As a result of these chance encounters I was asked by British Forces Cyprus (BFC) to accompany their annual educational Battlefield Tour. In May of 2008 it was to be to southern Jordan: In the Footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia. David, the left-wing arch and a bunch of hard-core soldiers?? Not a match made in heaven you’d think. But, you’d be wrong.

I spent nine days (1 and a half of them in the Officers Mess in Cyprus—which included a swimming pool and great grub) with 25 members of BFC, both male and female. And, as a particular bonus, my days were also spent with Jeremy Wilson, the pre-eminent scholar of Lawrence of Arabia, my co-“expert”. We encompassed GARP sites from Amman to Aqaba, from Wadi Rtm to Fasouah to Lissan, and by 4x4s the length and breadth of Rum. We had Jordanian advisors with us, Bedouin guides and many on site, and in hotel, discussions on the 1916-18 Ottoman/Arab campaigns and how they related to the UK military’s experiences in modern day Afghanistan. (It is worth noting that almost all of the BFC group I accompanied had served in Afghanistan or Iraq or both. Most are due back there soon.)

From GARP’s and GWAG’s viewpoint I learnt an inestimable amount. Not just from Jeremy (I expected that), but also from the serving soldiers. They have a view of the terrain, its difficulties/obstructions, military practicalities, and varying insights that I hope to bring to our weeks in Jordan in November. I can honestly say it was a pleasure to learn from a Lance Corporal and a cavalry officer, to mention only two.

On a personal note: I came back to the UK with an entirely different point of view of British service personnel. This is going to sound trite, but….they were insightful, highly disciplined, respectful of our Jordanian hosts, willing to learn, and extremely tolerant of this rather radical arch. And, yes, bloody intelligent. How na├»ve I must have been—thank you tabloid press. Damn good laugh, too! So thank you to Majors M., J., R., C., RAF K., the Colonel and the entire BFC group for one of the most enlightening and enjoyable week’s of my life.

[And I got to do the ubiquitous tour of Petra as well!]

I sincerely hope GARP will be in touch with BFC and Jeremy again in the near future.

David Thorpe
June 2008

PS. So you all don’t think I’ve “sold out”, the BFC plaque I was presented with now resides alongside a Che Guevara candle. The Colonel and Majors had joked about this possibility—it is reality!


Dave is also writing articles on his visit for future publication in Current World Archaeology and the British Army Review.

Bulletin 17 (June 2008)

Great War Events

Upcoming Great War related Events

'The Great War 1914-1918 - A Corner Of A Foreign Field'
An exhibition at the Museum of Lincolnshire Life, Burton Road, Lincoln from 3 May to 19 July 2008.

This is the brain child of, and is presented by, Mike Credland of the Friends of the Lincoln Tank, and includes displays of objects, costumes and memorabilia from the Great War.

'Tommies, Trenches and Tanks'
Also being held at the Museum of Lincolnshire Life on Saturday 21 June 2008 10am to 5pm

This event focuses on WWI and links to the above exhibition. There will be lots happening, including displays by members of the Friends of the Lincoln Tank, a presentation of WWI images of Lincolnshire, rationing, the homefront, etc. The Museum as also launching their Please Make Poppies appeal - visitors can make poppies to be displayed in November for the 90th anniversary of the end of WW1

Experience life during the Great War - 1914 to 1918 memorabilia, displays, demonstrations and activities, WWI archaeology, WWI war games workshop, children's craft activities, printing and propaganda, Life on the ‘Home Front’, War letters and poetry, Lincolnshire images of the period. Tickets £3.10 for adults and £2.00 Concessions.

'Talk by Dr John Bourne, The Collection, Lincoln'
The Friends of the Lincoln Tanks are presenting an evening of talks on Wednesday 2 July at 7pm. Dr John Bourne will be speaking on 'Joffre's War - A Sherwood Forrester In The Great War'. Local Lincoln Historian Rod Fanthorpe will also be speaking on 'Christopher Addison - Mother's Midwife'. Tickets are £8 each and available from me.

An finally - an event that is NOT happening in Lincoln! A reminder about -

'Not Just Rust and Dust: New Perspectives in Conflict Archaeology’ - Conference 2008

To be held at The Royal Logistic Corps Museum, The Princess Royal Barracks, Deepcut, Camberley, Surrey, GU16 6RW on Sunday 13th July 2008.

Speakers include
Dr.Neil Faulkner - War Without a Front: The Archaeology of Lawrence of Arabia’s War
Dr. Tal Simmons - The Taphonomy of Execution and Ambush Sites in The Balkan War.
Dr. Andrew Shortland - Ramses II and the Battle of Kadesh
Glenn Foard - Edgehill – The Archaeology of an early- Modern Battle
Andy Brockman - Between the Lines on Stop Line Central – A Militarised Civilian Landscape in South East London
Martin Brown and Richard Osgood - “..We shall certainly change the geography.” – soldiers, civilians and the archaeology of The Battle

For further details - Telephone 01252 833371
Email information – assistant@rlcmuseum.com
Tickets - shop@rlcmuseum.com

Tickets £20.00, including refreshments and buffet lunch. Reductions for students and Museum Friends.