[by Agnes Conway and George Horsfield]
Dr. Nielsen spent the day working at the Sanctuaries on El Habis, and felt that he had discovered enough in one morning to justify his journey. This complex of cult monuments, all orientated to the west, seem to him to be the earliest Arabian sanctuaries, circa the 2nd millennium B.C. He thinks that the bulls heads on the so-called “pulpit” and the cone shaped top, somewhat resembling a coil, of snakes, are of human workmanship, though much weathered. (He turned this down afterwards). A.E.C. spent the morning and afternoon exploring the Wady El Tughra. Below El Habis, S of the sanctuaries, she found what might almost be called a cemetery of shaft graves, some leading into large tomb chambers below. All were of solid construction and considerable depth, but the roofs in all cases had gone and the contents were rifled. One shaft grave had 3 small detached obelisks near it, and the holes for the bases stood at the head of the grave 1. The graves on the opposite side of the Wady under El Bijara are much later. Two sumptuous Nabataean temple graves have later partition walls of large stones, regularly built (prob. Bedouin?). One large tomb with a niche for a single grave has only a small hole knocked out of the slab and might be worth exploring for its contents.
Following the Wady southwards a large irregular lump of sandstone in the middle (the Kegelberg) is also a collection of shaft graves, and further on on the western side are a few shaft graves in front of some of the largest Hellenistic tombs. The green plateau between the Wady and the W. face of El Biijara is a mass of large worked stones, probably Greco-Roman and looked to her like remains of the town.
Where the Wady en Mer runs into the Wady el Tughra are a few rock-hewn caves, almost entirely silted up with sand, which might be worth excavation.
G. H. started digging in mound S.W. Zubb Pharoon [sic], on the part that lies above Dalmans [sic] “Byzantine” Wall. It is covered with Byzantine pottery but the steps cut in the side of the mound produced very little. The mound in this part is composed of sand and a certain amount of burnt debris, probably from wood fires, but contained no charcoal. The sand is loose and the digging had to be done with caution for fear of a land slide.
In the afternoon moved further South, where the debris is deep, and higher up the mound, which is apparently surmounted by a fortified wall which is not shown in Dalman’s plan. It breaks out from the Byzantine wall then turns until it meets the rock, with a shaft tomb. Below this lies another with slabs in place, one being broken so that you can peer in. It is partially filled with debris, and seems to have a chamber on either side.
The pottery finds were poor, but a deep cutting may be interesting. The evidence so far obtained points to the wall being pre-Byzantine, as it is buried in debris of this period.
Today the Camp was finished. It is situated in the Wadi Deir, in caves on both sides. In the West is the cookhouse, Living Room, W.C. and stables, and beyond a Bathroom. Dr Nielsen and Miss Conway are accommodated in tents. On the East is the Guardroom, which is also used as a Store House; adjoining is a small cave for G.H. and next door is the Guest Room. It is fairly compact, and the guard room covers all points of approach.
Many deficiencies have been discovered in the equipment, which was reduced as much as possible. These are being taken in hand, and Thos. Cook and Son’s camp, in the person of the Manager, has been most helpful. It is impossible to buy anything at Elgi, except the poorest things. No vegetables are obtainable. Milk is procurable. Chickens and sheep have to be got from the Arabs some miles away. Arrangements are beginning to work, so that all the attention of the Expedition may be given to the work of exploration.
[Footnote]: 1. These are probably not holes for obelisks, but the ordinary ones for offerings. Mr Horsfield excavated these shaft graves later on.
Reference: [unsigned, but by Agnes Conway and George Horsfield] 1929 (transcribed by A. Thornton). Petra Exploration Fund Diary. "Business Papers to be Kept", Horsfield Collection Box 8, UCL Institute of Archaeology, 26 March: 6-9.
[By George Horsfield and probably Agnes Conway]
Continued the dig on Zibb Pharaoun [sic], but it continues to be very uninteresting and contains very little pottery beyond that lying on and 15 centimetres below the surface. Found two styloes [sic] a model of a camel in part, and two fragments of crude pottery of a type not turned up before. The trench has been driven forward, and works more easily with the increase of room.
Another dump of town rubbish has been found with the aid of one of the workmen, on the bank of the Wadi Matahar, which looks promising and will be taken in its turn. Most of the site looks shallow, but as soon as the workmen are more used to organised work an attempt must be made on parts which offer difficulties greater than the carting away of sandy earth. Explored the Wadi Siyagh to a quarter of a mile below the Spring. At the angle of the shaft turn is the remains of a building. The sides have been quarried at many points on the surrounding cliffs, probably the source of the stone for the city buildings.
Many toe and finger ladders have been cut in the sides.
Visited many parts of the site in search of points to dig trial pits.
The material and food lacking and previously ordered through Thomas Cook’s agent has in a large measure arrived, so that the worry of trying to buy small quantities, which could only be found at a price and bought with persuasion, is ended.
The men and soldiers brought with us are all pulling well together; order is brought into the arrangement of the Camp and the food supply is sufficient.
A.E.C. explored part of the ridge W. of the Wady el Ma’aisera at Sharkiyah in the morning, and found a great number of cult sites and 3 definite houses, one of 2 stories with a first floor staircase, and another with a low enclosure wall in front plastered in the same way as the chamber. This was joined to another house by a tunnel, and a staircase by the side seems to lead to the private altar 1. She climbed to the highest points all along the ridge, and found the most interesting monuments at the very top – the views down on to the parallel western ridge of the Wady Ma’aiserat el Sharkiyah displayed a wide range of tombs of different types, and this area was visited in the afternoon and proved to be nothing but a necropolis – of shaft graves, shallow graves for sarcophagi, and tomb chambers. There were 4 tomb groups of great interest. In one case a shaft grave communicated with the chamber of a large Hellenistic tomb facade. All seem to be empty. How far these monuments are undescribed she does not yet know, but thinks that Brunnow and Dalman may have made all their observations from lower down the hillside, from which point the interesting monuments at the top are invisible.
Dr Nielsen continued his work on the sanctuaries of El Habis.
[Footnote] 1. (The last two are cisterns). The “private altar” is a water catchment area.
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, 27 March: 9-11.
[by Agnes Conway and George Horsfield]
A.E.C. spent the morning with Mr. Horsfield on the N.W. ridge of Wady el Ma’aisera el Sharkiyah revisiting the monuments seen yesterday. He pronounced the house with a 1st floor staircase to be a tomb copying a house. (A.E.C. at end thinks it is a house). Near it is a small shrine with 2 half moon niches not observed yesterday. The room with the low enclosure wall opposite is probably a cistern, possibly Byzantine, made in an entire tomb. The plaster is waterproof, of the kind that would be made to-day and the chamber is plastered to the probable water-level. A channel for the water leads into the next chamber, also a cistern, probably converted from a tomb. The water is gathered above, on the top of the hill, in the face of which the cisterns were made, and the gathering place is what I yesterday mistook for a cult site. We crossed the Wady and went to the north side of the Hellenistic tomb to the ridge on the W. of the Wady Turkamaniya to see the High Place observed from a distance yesterday, which the Bdûl called a “madhbar” and which Mr Horsfield agrees is a cult site and nothing to do with water-works. (Dalman – El Ma’aisera IV)1[Footnote: “1. Identified later as a house”]. From it another cult site of steps leading to a circular “snake” (possibly a phallic object) observed yesterday can be seen. (Dalman – El M. III). Behind the madhbar, a large carefully worked stone hall was called by the Bdûl a “jami” and may have been used in connection with the madhbar. (Both of them formed one house). The upshot of the morning was to emphasize the importance of cisterns and gathering places for rain water on the tops of the ridges and to exhaust that possibility before identifying any of the high squared terraces with water channels as cult sites. The double court with a built hall observed yesterday, is also a cistern, probably Byzantine.
G.Horsfield. The digging proceeded to-day with 15 men – a slight improvement has taken place in their performance, but it will take some time to break them in to organised labour.
The trench has been driven further into the mount and has struck on one side the top of the rock scarp which is seen below – which shows that the lower lying bed is shallow. The type of pottery coming from the lower level is coarse, but is mixed with finer kinds.
[sic] turned up with a Roman mode of dressing the hair. The pottery is small in quantity and found scattered about and not in beds.
The men are dissatisfied with the rate of pay and walked off in a body from the pay table. This was expected, as they have an exaggerated idea of their services, and of the ability of the Pst. [sic] Ex. Fund to pay. They are to be paid in five grades, beginning at 70 mils. One trouble is that Turkish money is still current, and the payment is made in Palestine, which they have hardly seen and do not understand. They are ignorant and very poor and miserable, but if we pay too much to start with, it only means future trouble. Eventually the rate will be the same as in Palestine.
Dr Canaan arrived today and is taking in hand the collection of all the names of the Wadis, Tombs and Mountains – so that they may be compared with the various maps and plans, which cause constant confusion when questioning the local Arabs, by variations.
Reference: [Conway, A. and Horsfield G.] 1929 (transcribed by A. Thornton). Petra Exploration Fund Diary. "Business Papers to be Kept", Horsfield Collection Box 8, UCL Institute of Archaeology, 28 March: 11-13.
[probably by Agnes Conway and] by George Horsfield
A.E.C. took Mr Horsfield to see 3 silted up caves above the Wady Farasa, which may be worth digging at to see if they are early. He also investigated Dr Nielsen’s El Habis sanctuaries and climbed a mountain at the back of Wady Ed Deir and our Camp, to copy a new Nabataean inscription found by his Circassian Inspector, Ali, at the very top.
Dr. Canaan covered a large area identifying place-names. A.E.C. and Dr. Nielsen went up the Ma’aisera again. She worked through Dalman’s Sanctuary No. III, which seems the most complete and interesting of them all, and was delighted with the long terrace on the edge of the Ma’aisera El Garbiyah which looks like the esplanade of a great Italian city.
March 30. G. Horsfield
No digging was done as the workmen failed to turn up. Saw the Sheikh Bashir and it seems to be his doing, as he wants to collect his share of the plunder. I informed him that I was indifferent whether they came or not. Explored the mountain on the W side of Wadi Deir over the Camp with Ali, and copied in part the Nabataean inscription which Ali found the other day. My transcription was poor and the inscription deteriorated, so Dr Nielsen was not able to make it out.
The excavators from Doura (on the Euphrates), Mr and Mrs Hopkins and Mr Johnstone, arrived about 7.30 p.m. in search of a cave for the night with a letter from Alright [sic] of the American School. Gave them a table and a corner of the living area – which is a nuisance for the rest of the party, though they in no way interfere with us except by their presence. We have decided to clear out another cave on the other side, which will do to put up chance visitors who will have the benefit of the guards and complete independence.
Reference: [probably Conway, A. and] Horsfield, G. 1929. Petra Exploration Fund Diary. "Business Papers to be Kept", Horsfield Collection Box 8, UCL Institute of Archaeology, 30 March: 15-16.
[By George Horsfield and probably Agnes Conway]
Thirty men arrived to work – took on 25 and started to dig again and some progress was made. The pottery is more perfect, but the ordinary Graeco Roman type-lamps and various small pots, finer fragments of red pottery and 2 pieces of glass. Picked up various fragments of thin red painted pottery, a base and part of a rim – all on the surface and in different parts of the S. side of the site.
Examined the graves found in Wadi Turkomaniya [sic] and made notes in last part of the morning – doubtful as to their antiquity. In afternoon spent some time on dig – it was uninteresting. The top of the Scarp has appeared on the left hand side – so that now the rock surface is appearing across the whole width of the cut. Pottery is scarce.
Examined the Nabataean wall from El Habis as far as the dig, and noted it all. There is a grave yard at the El Habis end which contains graves on the surface of the same type as those in the Turkamaniya Wadi – presumably Christian – many are orientated E & W.
Money is running short – more is to be obtained – the problem is how? Mahmud is doubtful about riding in, as it takes a long time and an equally long time to return. Took on a scullion (Ali) and seems to have satisfied the cook’s wants for the moment. He has quarrelled with the Circassians and removed to the kitchen to sleep. We now have 3 Arabs as servants, Deifullah the night watchman and general go-between – Huaymil, wood and water fetcher and the scullion. We seem more settled down, but I am constantly worried by idiotic domestic details which require settling, but it is often difficult to make the necessary politic decision, so that the matter is arranged and no one is disgruntled.
Dr. Canaan continued his long walks, picking up place-names, and found two High Places on Al Qantara. Dr. Nielsen went to El Ma’aisera No III sanctuary and was greatly impressed.
A.E.C. visited the circle on the mount with the American party, who thought the masonry either very early or Byzantine, and probably the former. After leaving Colonel Armstrong at Sextus Florentinus, she explored the N.W. wall beyond, finding Dalman’s Sanctuaries under el Hubta, which seemed to her to belong to a Hadrianic suburb. She climbed the S. peak of El Habis in the afternoon to see Dolman’s [sic] Sanctuary I, which seemed to bear no signs of cult but was inexplicable. (Certainly a quarry).
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, 31 March: 17-18.
[By George Horsfield and Agnes Conway]
Went to Ma’an with Arif hassar for money in company with Mahmud Charish. Brought back £200 which I obtained after waiting 3 hours. The digging went on with 25 men without interruption and supervised by Ali Burar.
A.E.C. and Dr. Nielsen went to Al Najr to find Kennedy’s High Place. Approaching it from the back side they could see nothing towards the top that looked worked; but as Difollah shouted down that it was good, AEC was hauled up. The top, which is about 57 yds in length, at first seemed to her a quarry mass only – but gradually it appeared to unfold itself as an altar mass with a gap left in the back wall orientated to the W. At one end is a small niche with a horned altar; at the other a larger niche. It divides itself roughly into 3 terraces, on the middle of which are 4 blocks, beneath what might be a tier of seats on the N edge. On the lower terrace close to the E. precipice, is what might be an altar. A very little pottery of uncertain date is strewn about. Seen from the ground in the E. side is a small projecting platform, upon which there appears to be a similar altar, which must again be investigated from the top. Should it be a High Place a fine view could be had of the sacrifices from the wide open space below which leads up gradually to a tomb area. Dr. Nielsen was unable to climb to the top.
A.E.C. thinks the massif may originally have been a High Place, which was afterwards quarried away to build the city, any staircase approaches being then cut off. Marks of quarry working seem to be clearly visible in the projecting portion on the S., and there are small carvings high up which might be mason’s marks.
In the afternoon A.E.C. walked on the Ma’aisera ridge above the Camp, spotting from above a large built wall inside a cave or tomb, and then going to Kennedy’s fig. 149 to look up the suggestions in his Memorandum.
Dr. Canaan did two big rounds finding place names and collected stories as usual from the Bedu.
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, 1 April: 18-20.
[By Agnes Conway and George Horsfield]
A.E.C. took Mr. Horsfield to see Al Najr, and he pronounced the whole place to be a quarry, probably temp [sic] Hadrian to build the Hadrianic city. The horned altar and niche would just have been put up by the quarrymen to amuse themselves. All the surrounding cult places, recommended by Kennedy for examination, are quarries as well, and to have fixed this definitely will save us all a great deal of time. We walked through Al Nasara, also full of old quarries which looked like cult objects, to the suburb on the N.W. face. Here Mr. Horsfield agreed that the tricliniums, niches, rooms etc all included by Dalman in his account of the 6 sanctuaries under El Hubta, are houses. One room is particularly fine and considered by him to be the earliest specimen of a typical Arab house.
G. Horsfield Spent the morning with Miss Conway visiting Northern area, in which I dashed all her hopes, as the alleged Higher Places are all quarries and the crude symbols the products of the leisure of quarrymen, visited some of the rock cut chambers on the S side, many of which seem to have been houses. The facade without a door, in front of which is a wall, seems to have been a Nymphaeum.
Spent the afternoon on the dig – a wall has appeared on the W. side which seems early. Pottery same as before and scarce but the house debris, bones, pottery and ashes are in evidence. The work is going better and with more of a swing, as the men are broken to organized labour – 26 men employed – taking on 10 more tomorrow.
In the afternoon A.E.C. investigated the caves around El Habis which all seem to be houses of different dates. One has remains of a very fine black plastering on the walls and ceiling.
Reference: [By Conway, A.] and Horsfield, G. 1929 (transcribed by A. Thornton). Petra Exploration Fund Diary. "Business Papers to be Kept", Horsfield Collection Box 8, UCL Institute of Archaeology, 2 April: 20-21.
[By George Horsfield, Agnes Conway and Tawfiq Canaan]
Spent two hrs. with Dr. Nielsen and Miss Conway in N.W. side of El Habis examining the High Place approaches, also the underlying quarry with its tombs. Spent the rest of the morning at the dig and completed my survey of the South Wall which runs from El Habis to the Castellum in the middle, and is the highest point of the South side of the city, then to the side of Zubb Atuf on the E. In the afternoon cleaned up the high place on El Habis in part; found nothing but sane [sic] and sheep droppings covered with thin grass to a depth of 30 centimetres. Visited the dig and saw the exposed side of the wall which has appeared in it and its junction with the S wall; its outer face, in the fragment exposed, is the same as the wall which limits the Town on the Wadi Farasa. The wall in the dig projects beyond its face and is broken away, which seems to suggest that there was a Tower or at any rate a change in plane of the wall. The pottery is the same and scarce. At the side of the wall inside are the remains of another, crudely built of small shapeless stones, without a foundation, about a meter high. Three Nabataean coins turned up of the common sort with crossed cornucopias which I have often seen and sometimes bought.
I have decided to go to a deeper level and shall proceed to cut off another meter from the front.
A.E.C. spent most of the day making a prismatic compass plan of the circle of old unhewn stones surrounding the rock which she found on March 28th.
J. [sic] B. Canaan: Before noon went through the siq to Wadi-el-Muslin, followed its course and the course of its tributaries up to Wadi-el-Mataha. Made a plan of the Siq, el-Mataha and the surroundings.
Reference: Horsfield, G., [Conway, A.] and Canaan, T. 1929 (transcribed by A Thornton). Petra Exploration Fund Diary. "Business Papers to be Kept", Horsfield Collection Box 8, UCL Institute of Archaeology, 3 April: 21-22.
[by George Horsfield and possibly Agnes Conway)
G.H. Worked on 3rd level and finished clearing of second.
From this came three fragments of figurines etc., camel’s head and horse’s body with trappings and the upper part of a female figure. Cleared up the washing water supply in the morning and finished clearing of high place, el Habis, and cleaned out the tomb chamber on lower level – found nothing. The whole area has been quarried at the high place and part of the basin fronting “altar” cut away.
The proper name of rubbish heap “el Aziz” is “katoote” meaning “that which slides down” from “Kalta” to slide.
Some of the other things bought at Amman arrived. Examined the West side of El Habis for fortifications.
A.E.C. took notes of the caves and foundations of the buildings, some of them built with large unhewn stones, leading up to the Megalithic circle from the South, on the chance that they may prove to be in some way connected. She finished planning the rock inside the circle. Explored the caves and houses at the opening of the Siyagh on the N side, finding that to be a house area with remains of good plaster work and stucco and two pieces of worked white limestone. One of the houses seems to be built in three stories; but the red sandstone has lost its surface to such an extent that it is no good studying houses in that area.
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, 4 April: 22-23.
[By George Horsfield and probably Agnes Conway]
G. H. No work to-day, spent the morning on Ez Zantour making notes, the afternoon on S. end of El Habis visiting the By-Zantine [sic] fort and examining the site lying below – which I discover has at some time been tilled, the evidence being the piles of stones forming rough walls enclosing fields – very much as is found on other sites in T.J. This has happened after the desertion of the site.
A.E.C. went to Dalman’s El Habis Sanctuary No. 1 with Dr. Nielsen, and both agreed that it was nothing but a quarry. It is certainly far earlier than Al Najar, as the markings have worn away; It was perhaps Nabataean and furnished the stone for the old houses on El Habis and possibly the Castle, which Mr. Horsfield thinks at every period must have been the main citadel of Petra – the present ruins he thinks Byzantine or pre-Byzantine. A.E.C. went on to the theatre district to examine the house and tombs, and found tombs of every internal arrangement mixed up together and what seemed like a magnificent house and cistern underground in the middle of them. The sandstone is so weathered that the late types of facades look extremely primitive. In the afternoon she went to the tomb area above the Circassian camp again, and feels it to be far earlier than the Theatre district, even in the sections that face E. and are not weathered. She went to the head of the Wady where the 2 Ma’aiseras meet and thinks that very early caves and tombs may be silted up there.
Reference: Horsfield, G. 1929 [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, 5 April: 23-24.