newsletter-389-august-2003

Newsletter

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HADAS DIARY

Thurs 11 - Sun 14 September. Long Weekend in the West Country. Now full, but ring Jackie Brookes in case there is a cancellation.

Tues 14 Oct. 250 Years of the British Museum. Lecture by Dr Marjorie Cayhill.

Tues 11 Nov. Roman Silchester. Lecture by Prof. Mike Fulford.

HADAS TRAINING DIG from our Chairman DON COOPER

Following requests from members who would like to improve their skills in excavation techniques, HADAS are arranging a training dig at Avenue House during the last two weekends in September. A specific area has been allocated by Avenue House and we are hoping to open a 1 metre by five metre trench. We expect to be able to cater for a maximum of 10 trainees per weekend. There will be more details in the September newsletter, but this is early notice to those who might like to participate

SECRETARY'S CORNER from DENIS ROSS

On 11 July the Committee held its first meeting since the AGM in June. Don Cooper was welcomed as the new Chairman and Peter Pickering as the new Vice-Chairman. Among matters discussed were the following: 1. It was agreed to co-opt June Porges ( who has had a very long association with the Society ) to fill the one vacancy on the Committee. 2. Mary Rawitzer was re-appointed as Membership Secretary. 3. The following appointments of Co-ordinators were made: Field Work: responsibility was allotted to the 'Digging Team' of which the principal members are Bill Bass, Christian Allen, Andrew Coulson, Graham Javes, Eric Morgan and Andrew Simpson. Programme and Newsletters: Dorothy Newbury with June Porges who arranges the lectures. Equipment: Andrew Coulson. Publicity: Tim Wilkins. Events: Eric Morgan. Archives/Library: June Porges. 4. Mary Rawitzer reported that there were now 283 paid members ( which represented a drop in numbers ) and a number of members had not so far paid their subscriptions for the current year. It was agreed that steps be taken to survey members' requirements. 5. The Society's resistivity equipment and expertise were in demand and surveys had been or will be conducted in various areas. 6. Eric Morgan reported on successful displays of the Society and its activities at the Cricklewood and Barnet Festivals and also at Avenue House on one of its Open Days.


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ARCHAEOLOGY AND HISTORY IN SAUDI ARABIA by STEWART WILD

Reading in the press recently that Mount Sinai, a revered holy site, is now believed to be an extinct volcano located in Saudi Arabia, and not in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, has reminded me how much archaeology there is in this little-known and much-maligned country. I was fortunate to spend some time here earlier this year (during the Iraq conflict, actually) and although 1 didn't get to all of the major sites, I was invited to write about them. Saudi Arabia is a vast country the size of western Europe; it is a two-hour flight from one side of the country to the other (Jeddah on the Red Sea to Dammam on the Arabian Gulf). In the southeast of the country, the Empty Quarter, beloved by explorers like Wilfred Thesiger and Harry St John Philby, is a huge desert the size of France. Archaeological sites include the remains of Qaryat Al Fau that for around 1,400 years was a wealthy town on the spice and frankincense routes across Arabia. It was abandoned in the first century AD when maritime routes carne to prominence and the trading centre of Najran (close to the border with present-day Yemen) declined. Finds from recent excavations, which are on-going, may be seen in the King Saud University Museum in Riyadh. The Jawan Chamber Tomb, on the Arabian Gulf coast, was excavated by oil company employees in 1952 and was found to contain a number of objects, including gold, bronze, iron and ivory, probably dating from at least 2,000 years ago. In the northern desert, Al-Rajajil is a barren plain with groups of standing stones believed to be well over 5,000 years old. The tall thin stones, up to 10 feet high, have Thamudic inscriptions and are aligned to sunrise and sunset. Like Stonehenge, they are a bit of a mystery and together with pottery shards and nearby rock carvings make the area a magnet for archaeologists. The most spectacular site, however, is undoubtedly Mada'in Saleh, in the northwest of the country. Sister city to Petra in Jordan, the site is famous for its more than 80 rock-cut tombs, evidence of the wealth of the Nabateans who levied taxes on the camel trains on the incense route to Mesopotamia, Greece and Egypt in the first century AD and before. Unlike Petra, however, Mada'in Saleh was never colonized by the Romans. Archaeological digs in the area (including one in 1968 by a team from the University of London) have uncovered buildings made of adobe with stone foundations. They have also uncovered a variety of coarse, plated and polished pottery, with animal, plant and geometric ornamentation. Other finds include glasswork, some thin and some thick with a snow-white colour, stone cisterns, cooking vessels and 96 coins. Some of these artefacts are in the National Museum in Riyadh while others are kept in a local museum. The surrounding area has many other archaeological treasures, including rock-cut tombs, petroglyphs and inscriptions in obscure Dedanite, Lihyanite and Minaean dialects dating from the 7th to the 5th centuries BC. The nearby town of Al-Ula is on the route of the famous Hejaz Railway, which T E Lawrence and his Bedouin supporters famously wrecked in a series of raids during the First World War. The origins of the railway go back to 189'7 when the Turks, who controlled most of the Arabian peninsula as part of the Ottoman Empire, conceived the idea of a railway between Damascus and the holy city of Madinah. The idea was supposedly to make it easier for pilgrims to reach Madinah and Makkah (Mecca) and it would cut the journey time from Syria from six weeks to four days. The Arabs, however, saw the project for what it was: a method of reinforcing Turkish military and political aims in the region, since troops and ammunition could quickly be supplied in the event of an insurrection. Despite opposition, construction of the railway began in 1900.The route ran from Damascus to Amman in Jordan, and on to Al-Ula and Madinah. Along the 1,000- mile route about 50 stations were built, although some were never finished. The planned extension to Makkah was never built. The line opened in 1908 and was a source of friction from the outset. Although pilgrims benefited from the convenience, the Bedouin camel-train operators saw only declining revenues. The trains were frequently stopped and raided, forcing the Turks to provide armed guards all along the route. During the First World War, the Ottoman Empire sided with Germany. Sherif Hussein of Jeddah made an alliance with the British to drive the Turks from the region, and Lawrence led the Arab Revolt. The Turkish garrison in Madinah was cut off which heralded the end of Turkish domination in the Arabian peninsula. In recent years, in the area around Al-Ula, some old railway engines and carriages have been put on display. Elsewhere, in the middle of the desert, you can see the remains of the track-bed, derelict engine sheds and abandoned stations. Some restoration is under way and it is hoped that one day it will again be possible to travel from Al-Ula by train.


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LOCAL SOCIETIES CONFERENCE by VANESSA BUNTON

May 31 2003 On the last Saturday in May a conference was held in the Museum of London on, about and for London's archaeological societies and their members. There was a good turnout and societies from all over the region attended. The morning session focused on the contributions that each society had made to our understanding of London's archaeology with the afternoon focusing on single events, programs, or research. The morning was started by Tim Harper of Enfield Archaeological Society (EAS) who gave an overview of how EAS had identified the roman settlements of the borough and introduced the Past finder's activities to the forum. Dennis Turner followed Tim from Surrey Archaeological Society (SAS) who told us how SAS has supported smaller societies in southwest London. Betty Jones from West Essex Archaeology Group (WEAG) told us of their past research in Waltham forest, increasing our understanding of prehistoric east London and that the group also excavated Little London a roman staging post near modern Abridge. Michael Meekums of Orpington and District Archaeological Society (ODAS) spoke of the gazetteer the group has put together identifying sites from different periods in the Upper Cray Valley. He also highlighted the work at Survey House where ODAS had undertaken an exciting standing building recording of a multi-phased dwelling prior to its remodelling. John Boult of Kingston Upon Thames Archaeological Society (KuTAS) talked of the origins of the group and their ongoing work in conjunction with Surrey Unitech at Tolworth Court Farm in Kingston; a multiphase and multiuse site that includes iron age, through a moated manor and 19111 century fanning remains. He indicated that the current part of the project being undertaken by the group is the ceramic analysis. From Richmond Archaeological Society (RAS) we had Anna Cronin who informed us of the varied activities of the group, including their ongoing work along the Thames Foreshore. These foreshore studies have revealed many exciting finds covering Saxon Richmond and particularly focusing on the remains of the Tudor Palace. In addition Anna outlined the attempts RAS has made to incorporate younger members and attract teenagers; these include targeting schools and participation in local fairs and displays. Moving much closer to today, Daniel Hayton of the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society (GLIAS) gave introduction of the work that GLIAS undertakes in and around London. Daniel featured a recent visit to the Hawker Siddeley Power Transformers factory and testing station in Waltham Forest recording the testing of the last transformer. Before the factory closed down earlier this year. City of London Archaeology Society (COLAS) was represented in the morning by Stacey Callagher who spoke of the public open days that CoLAS runs in conjunction with the Tower of London. This event, which includes opening the Tower Beach, attracts a wide variety of the public from both the local area and tourists visiting the city. Stacy outlined the types of activities that are run, ranging from identifying the clay pipes turned up on the beach through ethnographic archaeology where children are given the opportunity to make a wattle wall, to dressing up as a roman with hand ground makeup and environmental sampling. From just south of the river Richard Buchannan of the Southwark and Lambeth Archaeological Society (SLAS) spoke of the societies beginnings in rescue archaeology and their support of a more structured scheme for archaeological survival, which gave rise to current commercial archaeology. Richard spoke of the variety of lectures that the group now holds and the regular attendance at their monthly meetings and outings. John Clark representing the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society (LAMAS) finished the morning session with a brief overview of the societies almost 150 years of existence. John outlined LAMAS's development from a Victorian gentlemen's society to the active role they have today in supporting other societies through their annual conferences and publication programs.Hedley Swain of Museum of London started the afternoon session by engaging the attendees in a lively debate over the role of Societies in archaeology today and the need to publicize more widely the valuable work being undertaken by these groups that is often ignored by other sectors. Moving into backyard archaeology Tim Harper of EAS spoke of the recent excavation work to uncover roman Enfield in a family's back yard. Some possible remnants of Roman Enfield were discovered, but interestingly a 1940's bicycle buried upright was excavated. It is thought that this bike was buried when a bomb shelter was removed. Karen Thomas from YAC central London gave a brief outline of the activities that the children undertake and how they enjoy being part of the group. Also highlighted that the YAC shows a varied ethnic mix that may be reflected in local societies and the profession in the future. Audrey Monk of SAS spoke of the exciting work that they are undertaking in Village Studies. This program utilizes a variety of tools well known in archaeology to decipher how villages have developed over time. Looking into technological advances to identify archaeological information Christian Allen of Hendon and District Archaeological Society (HADAS) talked of the resistivity surveys undertaken by the group and the answers that they have displayed, along with the practicalities of getting results from the instruments. He touched on the resistivity undertaken at Burnt Oak and the resulting excavation, along with more recent studies undertaken at Friary Park and Bowling Green house. Betty Jones of WEAG updated us of the ongoing work at the Tudor manor Copped hall and the finds that they had made in the previous two weeks. These included the possible base for a turret and a great variety of ceramics from the Tudor period through the 19th century when the area was used as a rose garden. Alan Hart of ODAS talked of the 2002 work at Scadbury Manor. This site consists of a moated manor with surrounding buildings and was occupied from as early as the 13th century. Alan focused on the excavations of the footprint of a new prefab classroom where they revealed an extensive range of 18th/19th century brick lined sunken storage bins found in last seasons excavation. In a step forward in time Susan Hayton of GLIAS talked of the history and recording of the rise and fall of the famous chronometer and anemometer makers Lowne Instruments. GLIAS was informed of the impending closure of Lowne Industries and destruction of the factory; this detailed recording on the processes, history and building of a small factory in South London. Such insightful research in recent archaeology ensures that we have a good understanding in the processes that took place as well as the building that housed it for over 150 years. Graham Dawson of SLAS spoke of the tin glazed ware industry in Southwark, particularly Montague Close. The pottery was produced on site for 140 years from 1612 with a great variety of patterns and vessel styles. Moving back to the north side of the Thames, Bethan Featherby of CoLAS talked about the ongoing research COLAS undertakes along the foreshore. A core group of keen members search the foreshore of the City and Tower Hamlets when the tide allows. Most recently they have been recording and researching the lock that leads from the now built over Gun Dock in Tower Hamlets. Robert Whytehead of the Greater London Archaeological Advisory Service (GLAAS) spoke of the importance of the work being undertaken and that it should be linked to the Sites and Monuments Record. GLAAS advisors are interested and should be kept abreast of development in their areas. He also reminded us all that Local Society members are also the eyes on the ground for archaeology and should let people know if there is anything they feel uneasy about in their areas. The day was highly successful in bringing together groups from throughout London and giving them a forum to speak to each other and discover the exciting possibilities for projects they could apply in their own areas. It also highlighted the great amount of good research and archaeology that is being undertaken by local societies and speaks brightly for the future.


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AVENUE HOUSE OPEN WEEKEND from BILL BASS

As part of the National Archaeology Weekend HADAS held an open weekend at Avenue House on July 12 & 13th. Good weather saw many people sunbathing or admiring the landscaped gardens adjacent to the house. In amongst the footballs, shuttlecocks, picnics and a wedding HADAS members were seen conducting a resistivity survey on the lawns in readiness for a large scale survey in the near future. Some of the local children tried the resistivity machine and a competition evolved on who could produce the highest number! There was also a chance for members to brush up on their levelling skills using the dumpy level and theodolite. The Garden Room was open, our base of operations, where the library was open for inspection currently being reorganised) and some of the finds from previous digs were being displayed together with the HADAS sales stand. Thanks to those members involved with the weekend.

EGYPTIAN DAY OUT by JACK GOLDENFELD

I took my son and his family to an Egyptian Day Out at the Mill Green Museum and Mill at Hatfield on the 20th. July, part of the nationwide series of archaeological events, intended to stimulate the interest of the general public. The weather was brilliant and the activities there were a tribute to the effort and ingenuity shown by the team of volunteers from the Welwyn Hatfield Museum service, splendidly co¬ordinated by Sarah Adamson, the Education and Access Officer, and ably assisted by Eve Lloyd. They created a series of displays and projects, which were experienced and enjoyed by a large public attendance, with many young people and children present, all of whom were able to involve themselves with explanations and guidance. There was flour grinding, using a quern and rubbing-stone, then bread- making, Egyptian food of various types, all of which w ire delicious, a working model of a shaduf, or water-lifting device, excavations in both loam - with real Roman shards - and in sand, with jewellery items which were lost by Queen Nefertiti', ceremonial collar making and colouring, pyramid construction, using paper, hieroglyphic studies, cartouche designing, herb-identification and - best of all - dressing up as ancient Egyptians! The event was clearly very child-oriented, but the grown-ups participated fully too, including this correspondent, and his two granddaughters, the younger of whom is a keen and knowledgeable budding Egyptologist, the elder being more concerned with the neolithic. The whole enterprise proved that a public awareness and enjoyment can be created with few simple resources, supported by unbridled enthusiasm and unstinting effort.

WELCOME TO NEW MEMBERS

The following new members have joined since the start of our 2003-4 year, last April: Martin and Laura Ellis in East Barnet, Monika and Jean-Paul Bannister, North Finchley, Elaine Ackley, East Finchley, David Marcus, Finchley,N3, Robert Hogan, Earls Court, who lived in Whetstone as a boy, Michael Hammerson, who is very active in the Highgate Society and a retired professional archaeologist, and Fran Martell from New Barnet. They are all most warmly welcome and we hope to see them at some of the meetings, outings and at Avenue House. From Mary Rawitzer, Membership Secretary.


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OTHER SOCIETIES' EVENTS Compiled by ERIC MORGAN

Sun 3 August, 2.30pm Heath & Hampstead Society. Burgh House, New End Square, NW3 Lakes and 1342116 of Kenwood, Walk led by Andrew Ginner. £1 donation. Also Hampstead Antiques & Collectors Fair, Community Centre, 78 High St, NW3 10am - 5pm.

Thurs 7 August, 7.30pm - 9.30pm London Canal Museum, 12-13 New Wharf Rd. Kings Cross, N1 Along the Canal Towpath to Camden. Guided Walk. Also on Sat 16 August, 2-4pm.Concessions £1.25

Fri 8 August, 7.30pm Wembley History Society. St Andrew's Church Hall, Church Lane, Kingsbury, NW9. Welsh Harp Guided Walk, led by Leslie Williams (Brent Conservation Officer)

Tues 12 August, 8pm Amateur Geological Society. The Parlour, St Margaret's United Reform Church, Victoria Ave.N3. Santorini and the Story of Atlantis Talk by Susanna Van Rose Fri 15 August, 7pm City of London Archaeological Society St Olave's Parish Hall, Mark Lane, EC3. The Bishop of York's Palace. Wandsworth. Talk by Karl Hulka (pre-construct archaeology)

Sat 16 & Sun 17 August, 12-6pm Friern Barnet Show Friary Park, Friern Barnet Lane, N12. Friern Barnet Local History Society will have a stand here with latest details of HADAS resistivity survey.

Tues 19 August, 7.30pm Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery, Dissenters Chapel, Kensal Green Cemetery, Ladbrooke Grove, W10. Highgate Cemetery - Past. Present and Future. Talk by Jean Paternal], £3; refreshments.

Wed 25 August,! 1am Kenwood House, Hampstead Lane NW3. Gardeners' Walks, walk and talk about landscape surrounding Kenwood House and current work. 1.50 - £3.50.

Sun 24 & Mon 25 August, 12-6pm Barrow Show, Headstone Manor, Pinner View, North Harrow. The Museum& Heritage Centre will be open till 5pm each day.



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