[probably by Agnes Conway]
A.E.C. spent the morning on Al-Ma’aisera looking at all the tombs leading to the watch-room overlooking the barred Wady Marras Hamdan outside the town. The tombs are particularly small, and there are many niches with facades too small for tombs. When above the Turkomanya Wady, I saw a line of camels which turned out to the be the last of 300 or so, which had come from Hayil, a 20 days’ journey, with 50 Wahabis to look after them. From Ma’an they went by Ain Hai and ain Khraje to El Barid, where they slept last night. They went out by El Thughra on the way to Akaba and a 5 days’ journey to Egypt to sell the camels. They said the Star Pass was too hard on the camels legs and so was the Siq. This seems to imply that El Barid may have been the last station on the way to Petra on the Southern and Eastern Trade Routes, as well as the first station from Petra on the way to Gaza. It was a first hand demonstration of the Trade Routes that we never could have hoped for, and a very fine spectacle. The afternoon went on shopping chores and consultations with Mr Read [Head] about my camera. The “Sybil” focus is all wrong and impossible to use.
Reference: [unsigned, but probably Conway, A.] 1929 (transcribed by A. Thornton). Petra Exploration Fund Diary. "Business Papers to be Kept", Horsfield Collection Box 8, UCL Institute of Archaeology, 12 April: 33.
[By George Horsfield and possibly Agnes Conway]
Began to dig on S. face of the city between the outer and the Byzantine wall, on a face of 10 metres. The ground was covered with the fragments of stone slabs that seem to have formed the sides and covers to Xian graves – one of which had been destroyed. They were on the surface.
The surface is sandy earth with small fragments of pottery[.] One lamp with a cross and several Byzantine coins were turned up. Visited with Miss C. the Tombs at foot of Biyara on the other side of W. Tughra. Afternoon was on the dig all the time; the surface is clear up the wall and the S. end down [? in pencil] about ¾ in. Very little pottery is turning up. Remains of wood ash are appearing – but the pottery is limited and uninteresting and very fragmentary.
Wall stones are turning up just below the surface and fragments of stone are mingled with the earth, particularly at foot of Byzantine wall.
A.E.C. spent the afternoon on the nearer Ma’aisera ridge and in the wadi-al Gharbiyah, where, in a small area are six silted up caves almost at Wady level on each side. Four are hidden by falls of detritus and two filled to the very top with sand, - thinks these may all be tombs, and that one is of the large Serai type and worth digging.
Reference: Horsfield, G. [and possibly Conway, A.] 1929 (transcribed by A. Thornton). Petra Exploration Fund Diary. "Business Papers to be Kept", Horsfield Collection Box 8, UCL Institute of Archaeology, 13 April: 33-34.
[probably by Agnes Conway]
A.E.C. and Dr Nielsen spent the day at El Medras, the “Klamm-Heiligurn["] [sic] and Al Kantara, searching for Dalman’s sanctuaries and finding nothing relating to cult. El Medras seems to have been an open country suburb, high and cool, with an unimpeded view to Mount Hor; on this hot day it was breezy and fresh compared with Petra, with air like El Barid, and country of the same sort.
The two great rooms of Nabataean inscriptions (dated by Brunnow 70 B.C. and by Dussaud 17 A.D.) were probably houses; and above the upper complex of so-called cult objects, given in Dalman I (p. 130) is a staircase leading to the S. court with houses, while over another broken down staircase leading out of this courtyard, is another terrace with houses. There are no signs of graves, and the whole of the water complex must have served the houses, as far as I can see, as the rest of the country about is empty. The rock 71 (Dalman I, p. 120) is covered with Dusores niches, but all the other pits seem to be part of the system for collecting water into cisterns and ornamental basins. It looks to me like a charming arrangement of water basins in the shadow of the rock, with a triclinium in the shade where we had lunch, which might have been a place for rich Petraeans to move out to in the summer. There could be no defence. The house fronts, where they still exist, have a door or two side windows. The whole suburb was, I imagine, one of period and design, perhaps 70 B.C. or 17 A.D., like the inscriptions.
From the plateau of El-Hremije we went down the Huraimiya gorge to Dalman’s “Klamheiligturn” [sic]; which is a house of one triclinium, with the complete front preserved in unweathered red sandstone – a door between two windows, like any modern street house. It was plastered and has remains of Nabataean inscriptions, and was dark and cool, with a cistern opposite.
Above it, up the gorge, is an enormous room with a Roman niche. Probably all belonged together and may have been the summer house of a rich Petraean. When the staircase to the Khaznah was unblocked it would not have been far to go, but as a winter house it would have been quite dark and cold.
Dr Nielsen found two sanctuaries in El Kantara (Dalman’s) in which he did not believe.
A curious thing is that all the rooms seen to-day were covered with Arab graffiti as well as Nabataean inscriptions.
Reference: [unsigned, probably Conway, A.] 1929 (transcribed by A. Thornton). Petra Exploration Fund Diary. "Business Papers to be Kept", Horsfield Collection Box 8, UCL Institute of Archaeology, 14 April: 34-36.
[By George Horsfield and probably Agnes Conway]
Visited dig which has progressed fairly and was within 6 m. of Byzantine wall; then went to Upper Farasa Wadi to see Tomb excavations; three were done; all had been cleared out. They are simple shaft tombs with stone slabs resting on ledges immediately over corpse – shaft about one metre deep. This was filled with earth, which had the appearance of never having been disturbed. The stone slaps in one case remained in part in position. Returned to dig which had arrived at wall about 5 ½ m in front of Byzantine wall. On the left was a cistern; broken down on the right, a shapeless mass of stones and earth – which had the appearance of being a foundation; dissected it but was unable to form an opinion as to what it was used for. Immediately in front of wall struck rock, on which foundation of wall rests – which may be a bastion projecting from main wall; it is built of small stones in courses – which seem to be reused material. There are seams of ashes, but very little pottery, which is very mixed; an inscribed jar handle – a sherd of glazed black pottery; a Christian Byzantine lamp, a fragment of a round figured lamp and a piece of glass. Arriving at the rock so soon was surprising as I thought that I was getting in to the “tell” and was expecting to arrive on the foundations of the part of the city lying between the two walls. These have apparently been cleared away or never existed. It is necessary in order to make sure and satisfy scientific curiosity to probe further; but the expectation of finding the town stratifications is gone – at this point.
Visited with Miss C. el Maisera el Garbiyah and saw a quantity of Tombs, one of which, “Hadrianic”1, retained remains of external plaster on its cornice and suggestions of blue and red colour. This is the only Tomb so far found that retains any part of its external plastering, though it has been suspected in many other cases. Miss C. has pointed out three Tombs which she wants to dig out. They are filled with sand and are without any external distinction [? In pencil] – so may fulfil our expectation of being ancient and undisturbed – or at any rate may illustrate something of the Nabataean civilization – of which so far not a trace has been found except on coins. The Mediterranean seems the source of inspiration – Syria supplied the tools, Dabourha [? In pencil] and Dik – which seem to have been used by the stone cutters who carved out some of the Tombs. The Hadrianic Tombs are cut with a pick, which is used with a swinging circular stroke and produces a fine even cutting – the other is more careless and rough. The dating of all these is very difficult, but none seem to have a remote antiquity, as even some of the least classical and flattest in execution have pedimented doors; others have architraves, or small cornice; some of the architraves even develop ears at the top. So it would appear that the flat type with strings and very small stepped gables – sometimes with ornamented portals, were just as liable to be produced as well as the developed classical type. In the same way archaeologists will be mystified to find in English churches “15thcentury monuments” and early Victorian all stuck on the same wall, possibly executed by the same hand. The pick strokes do indicate that there was a difference[, in pencil] in time in some cases – but all cases may be found in contradiction [? In pencil] – so that a conclusion from this method of analysis is liable to error. The only means of correct dating is by digging.
A. E. C. spent the morning examining the monuments on the East, opposite the theatre. The lower two tiers all appear to be houses, and one is large, with 7 rooms and a large hall, and probably a cistern underneath. The area seems originally to have been a tomb area, and several shaft graves remain at that level. When the theatre was made the houses may have been built too, as they all seem late and of excellent workmanship. The upper tiers are graves, with the doubtful exception of Br 812, which is a triclinium with a house façade, into which three large grave niches may have been inserted at the time the large neighbouring tomb was built. Brunnow has paid no attention whatever to the house levels.
Behind these houses on the top terrace is a row of silted up graves; but these are more likely to have been rifled than those in the Wady Ma’aisera el Gharbiyah. Dr Nielsen and Dr Canaan spent the day at Elji, where they found a new (?) Nabataean inscription and saw several classical fragments built into the village houses.
[Footnote] 1. Like Madain Salih Tomb, 8 A.D.
Reference: Horsfield, G. [and probably Conway, A.] 1929 (transcribed by A. Thornton). Petra Exploration Fund Diary. "Business Papers to be Kept", Horsfield Collection Box 8, UCL Institute of Archaeology, 16 April, Part 2: 37-40.
[By George Horsfield and Agnes Conway]
Visited dig first thing. Have decided to abandon it, as it is impossible to find anything further. Several wine jar handles inscribed turned up; also part of a small polished black lamp which seems to be the prototype of the inexplicable ugly one produced locally. Found another tomb exactly the same as before, but opened it without allowing much earth to enter. The corpse lay straight on its back with hands crossed on stomach; very crumbly; bones and all fell in bits when disturbed. No objects.
Moved the workmen to “Caliph” to dig further into this mound from which some fairly good fragments turned up. Found nothing on going deeper in – a mass of building rubbish lime and red sand with certain streaks of wood ash. This was followed up and finally abandoned. Paid off 30 workmen. The Circassians have got up a separate mess with Ali as cook, which it is hoped will prove more satisfactory.
Dr. Tewfik Canaan left us to-day, to our regret. He came as a stranger to all of us – but our nearer acquaintance with him proved his worth. He set an excellent example by his energy, cheeriness and resource. As a friend he left us. He doctored all and sundry, making friends with all with whom he came in contact.
A.E.C. went to see High Places with Dr Nielsen in the Siyagh, and then to measure the large house found two days ago opposite the Theatre. There, in some mysterious manner, she lost Dr Canaan’s watch! She went straight up the Wady bed of the Ma’aisera el Gharbiyah, from the Turkamaniya to the wall at the top, in the afternoon noting all the silted up caves in the Wady bed, and higher up the banks, of which there are a great many. Facaded tombs do not begin till very high up, and end with a large clump of them right at the top. Then there is a building with sides like a tomb and the proportions of its neighbours, but open, front and back, with a platform on the Wady side. A large tomb at the back, of the “Serai” type, still has a grave niche, filled with large stones to the very top, though the bottom row has been removed. She came back over the highest top of the ridge between the Gharbiyah and the Wady Marris Hamdan and found quarrying on the sky-line. The water channel from the top flows into the cistern behind Kennedy’s Stibadium to Brunnow 559.
Reference:Horsfield, G. [and Conway, A.] 1929 (transcribed by A. Thornton). Petra Exploration Fund Diary. "Business Papers to be Kept", Horsfield Collection Box 8, UCL Institute of Archaeology, 18 April: 42-43.
[possibly Agnes Conway]
Mr. Horsfield and A.E.C. went to see the house opposite the theatre, and the Tomb of Onaisu, from which Mr. Horsfield hopes to get the chronology of the Tombs straightened out. He noticed a new type of crenellated tomb in the site, where the crenellations are real battlements. There is an intermediate form of tomb in the Outer Siq in which the crenellations come to the top, but have no cornice. The house has remains of painted plaster in one room, in a recognizable design, and the room is vaulted. They went on to Zibb Atuf, and agreed that the obelisks were connected with the quarry and had nothing to do with the Place of Sacrifice. Mr H. thought the entrance towers Byzantine, and the two on a lower level of a different date, but could not understand them as fortifications.
He thinks the cut stone on the rim of the altar of the Great High Place implies some superstructure and suggests that it was a shrine rather than an altar; made perhaps to hold some sacred stone emblem of Dushara which may have stood on the base of the so-called altar of burnt offerings. Such a stone might easily have been thrown down the hill side. From the stone cutting of the triclinium (?) wall, he thought the work was of the 1st century B.C. Should the altar be a shrine, A.E.C. thought the victims might have been slaughtered beside the round basin, in which the blood might have been collected and poured on the sacred stone. In this case why should a runnel join the round basin to drain liquids into the court?1 On the way up above the theatre they reached the plateau where the snake relief is (better photograph needed). Mr H. thought this must be a shrine; but the surrounding caves are all houses; some of them very fine ones. The whole lot are included by Dalman as the 2nd sanctuary of the Theatre-berg! In the afternoon they visited the silted up caves in the Wady Ma’aisera el Gharbiyah and decided which should be dug tomorrow.
[Footnote] 1. A later dig showed that it did not drain into the court, but ran down the mountain at the back.
Reference:[unsigned, but possibly Conway, A.] 1929 (transcribed by A. Thornton). Petra Exploration Fund Diary. "Business Papers to be Kept", Horsfield Collection Box 8, UCL Institute of Archaeology, 19 April: 44-45.
[by George Horsfield and probably Agnes Conway]
Transferred the digging to Ma’aisera to two caves, which were silted up nearly to the top. No. 1. which was about 30 [? In pencil] m. higher than the other, up the Hill showed a broken doorway and part of the roof. It was full of stones and earth and measured 2 m. x 2.75 m. and 2.50 m. high. Digging in front brought to light the floor of a chamber (?) the side and front walls of which had disappeared[.] The floor was deeply chased and against the outside wall of the inner chamber parallel to it, ran a double chase, with a wall of 15 centimetres between. The chases ran on the floor at right angles, roughly dividing it into squares, but unequally and irregularly. It looked as though it was in process of being quarried. Very little pottery. Top Byzantine and the rest of the same type; say 2nd and 3rdcenturies, with a glazed base of a vase. In the inner chamber inside at the floor level on the right, were found two small vases of plain red ware, one a sort of juglet with a handle and the other a small vase with a swollen out body rising from a ring base. There were no signs of a burial and the primary use of the cave (?) was left undecided. On the right above the roof and 50 cents. away from the inner wall was a cutting that looked like a shaft grave. When cleared, it was 65 cents. deep and contained nothing but earth and stones. No. 2. is larger and consists of an outer and an inner chamber, with a recess, and is situated about 3 m. above the Wadi bed. The inner chamber has a roof which has partly fallen in; the blocks lay on the surface and were half buried. The entrance has worked blocks of stone placed to form jambs; and part of a moulded architrave, very rough and worn, was found nearby. Outside, at 75 cents. below surface, are remains of a kitchen midden, the surface of which only has so far been touched. The pottery is fragmentary and Byzantine on the surface, mixed with sandy earth and stones. The inner room is filled with earth and stones and has produced no pottery so far.
No. 3. lies on left of No. 2. and has only just been attacked. It shows a recess with a roof, part of which has fallen in and blocks the entrance. So far nothing but a little Byzantine pottery has been found on and below (50 cents.) the surface.
The ledge above, which is wide and continuously sloping upwards, has fragments of pottery scattered over its surface, some of which is ribbed, some plain. Whether these caves – or grottoes – are domestic or funerary is at present not apparent.
A.E.C. followed the right bank of the Ma’aisera el Gharbiyah to the end of the town. The upper levels appear to have been covered with houses, some of which were later turned into tombs. The whole area is now considered by Mr. Horsfield to be the earliest part of Petra; possibly the unwalled city of Strabo’s time. She went to the Siyagh with Dr. Nielsen in the afternoon, and was struck by the immense number of houses, up to 4 stories, on each side of what must have been a real town street. Houses are now appearing quite common! She went to a high level on the N. side where cisterns and quarries have made what Dalman considers a sanctuary, but incomprehensible at the moment.
Reference: Horsfield, G. [and probably Conway, A.] 1929 (transcribed by A. Thornton). Petra Exploration Fund Diary. "Business Papers to be Kept", Horsfield Collection Box 8, UCL Institute of Archaeology, 20 April: 45-48.
[by Agnes Conway]
No dig today as it poured with rain and Mr. Horsfield sorted pots, and A.E.C. welcomed the chance of reading. At lunch-time there was a shout of water in the Wadi Musa, and the whole camp rushed to see it pouring into the Siyagh. It was, however, coming from the Metaha and not from the Sik at that time; so Mr H. and A.E.C. went to examine the large buildings under El Hubta. The enormous façade next but one N. of the Tomb of the Urn has only 2 small but perfectly squared or tooled rooms, one of which seemed to ring hollow in the middle of the floor and may be worth clearing out. The next two at right angles to each other, have no facades and may be houses. The Corinthian Tomb has capitals almost Byzantine, combined with triglyphs and dentals of yellow stone painted with stripes of black. It was impossible to tell whether the inserted stone of the low arches on the left was plastered or not. Inside the Palace Tomb the arrangement of 4 bases for sarcophagi 1, on a high shelf in a niche, was odd and unique in Petra.
The colour of this ceiling and the neighbouring one on the left was superb in the greyish light; a fantastic palette of blood red, orange, pink, grey, pale mauve, and silver, set off by great black splotches from the Bedouin fires.
As soon as the sun shone the colour paled. This English day of thunderclouds, and snatches of deep blue sky brought out all the colour of the rocks and intensified the green. A blinding hail storm was difficult to battle against on the way home. We jumped the Wady Musa and got to camp a few minutes before the Deir Wady became a raging torrent, cutting off the 2 sides of the camp from each other, and threatening the tents, around which trenches had to be dug at once. Before supper the stream was dry again.
[Footnote] 1. The same seen later near right [? In pencil] of Tomb of Urn
Reference: Conway, A. 1929 (transcribed by A. Thornton). Petra Exploration Fund Diary. "Business Papers to be Kept", Horsfield Collection Box 8, UCL Institute of Archaeology, 21 April: 48-49.
[By George Horsfield and possibly Agnes Conway]
Cold after rain and snow, a slight fall of snow on the mountains to S.E. Visitors to Cooks Camp can’t move, as all the roads are impassable.
The digging at No. 2. cave has cleared the front “court” and part of the inside. A Byzantine rubbish tip was found 50 cents. below surface. Below that more pottery and the head of a Figurine with a late 1st century A.D. type of hairdressing. Certain pieces of whitish grey green pottery are new, one piece has a pattern on its handle which looks like two wriggling snakes. The court has steps round it – and the floor is unique – but as it is not yet cleaned up it is difficult to make out – it seems to have channels cut in it, and may be the result of quarrying!
No. 3. cave is uninteresting – pottery Byzantine and gives no promise.
Dug out 2 Xtian ? tombs opposite Turkomaniya – both empty except one which had 3 small fragments of bone. The underpart of the grave box in both cases was straight on the earth.
In afternoon went down Siyagh with Dr. N. and Miss C to visit the houses of which it is full. Up on the W side of Deir found 3 early and interesting rooms, - the one with Nab. inscriptions being particularly interesting – it was a [? In pencil] with rounded end. Pottery in vicinity Byz. The plateau leading to these rooms has about 50 cents. of sandy earth on it. The so-called Sanctuary is not a Sanct.
Finished afternoon at dig – nothing new. The door to chamber is built of masonry inserted into the red sandstone; also the cill of door. The masonry is rough chiselled, with margins about 3 cents. wide.
The Siyagh and el Ma’aisera I think are certainly, with Habis, the oldest part of the city – but our exploration is hardly sufficiently advanced to make deductions from the evidence available.
Continued sorting of pots.
A.E.C. went with 3 men to dig the 2 chambers seen yesterday in the engaged pillar tomb N. of the Tomb of the Urn. Though the S. one rang hollow, there was nothing but 1 ½ ft of manure on a stone floor. The pottery was Bedouin with one small fragment of Greco-Roman. In the N room there was nothing at all; but the tomb chamber, of the size of a shaft grave, seems to have been on the upper floor, and the purpose of the 2 small, beautifully squared chambers on the ground floor, is still unknown.
Mahmud climbed to the top of the 4 sacrophagi bases in the Palace Tomb and picked among the divisions; but there was nothing new to be seen.
A.C. found a view point in the Siyagh from which 9 tiers of houses on El Habis can be distinguished. There are however tombs as well, and the hill-side is still a puzzle. The shaft-grave complex at the S.W. end is at the back of what must once have been a huge row of Nabataean tombs along the edge of the Wady Tuglera. These seem to have been quarried and to have fallen down and their relation to the shaft graves behind them I cannot fathom. (These lead into them from the top).
Reference: Horsfield, G. [and possibly Conway, A.] 1929 (transcribed by A. Thornton). Petra Exploration Fund Diary. "Business Papers to be Kept", Horsfield Collection Box 8, UCL Institute of Archaeology, 22 April: 49-51.
[by George Horsfield and possibly Agnes Conway]
No. 2 cave continues being cleared in the inner room which has gone more rapidly. No. 3. is cleared except for the floor – a bench of stone about 80 cents. wide existed on right side apparently running the whole length. There is a channel in rear wall to fix it in. The niche at back proves to be only 45 cents deep – purpose unknown. No more pottery.
Began to dig two shaft tombs on Ma’aisera plateau – one was entered from a hole on a corner without touching shaft – Byzantine pottery fragments and nothing else so far. This No. 2. The other shaft No. 1. was filled to the brim with earth. This being cleared to 1 metre disclosed side chamber. On entering found about 10 skulls in disorder on the floor, a mass of bones – 2 pots in a corner – another near a corpse on right side and a Byzantine pot. A lot of pots came out of the shaft – including base of Rabbit Thyton with stone metal eyes – the head of a female with a hook nose – an open mouth and a crescent moon bound on her forehead. Small pots, lamps etc.
A.E.C. climbed El Biyara in the morning, passing a terrace with 3 Dushara niches (given by Dalman as a sanctuary) and then going by two great inclined planes in the rock like the entrance to El Hubta. Above these, right out in the open, is a charming country house of two rooms and a terrace, with a superb view. Steps go all the way to the top, which is a long flat plateau with remains of squared stone ruins all over it, flat with the ground. I could not date them at all. The surface pottery is Byzantine, Greco-Roman, and some very rough stuff, possibly bronze age? There are six enormous cisterns; large round openings in the ground, going down deep and with stones, in some cases squared, that have fallen in from the top. Near the Arabah side of the hill and close up against another hill for shelter, is a rounded topped cave with an early plain door; date unknown. The whole hill was evidently a fastness [sic], and commands the whole country; the views are superb. The easy route from Elji to El Barid is clearly visible and the spur from it that would lead to the Edomite High Place – the first ridge of El Ma’aisera is seen absolutely crammed with buildings, the other ridges by contrast, looking quite empty. A big quarried valley seemed to lead N out of the Siyagh; the last course of the Wady Musa, through black spiky rocks, looked magnificent.
Reference: Horsfield, G. [and possibly Conway, A.] 1929 (transcribed by A. Thornton). Petra Exploration Fund Diary. "Business Papers to be Kept", Horsfield Collection Box 8, UCL Institute of Archaeology, 23 April: 52-53.