The Palestine Exploration Fund

Search the PEF

Trains, trenches, and tents: the archaeology of Lawrence of Arabia's war

Great Arab Revolt project logo6pm, Thursday 15th October 2009

Stevenson Lecture Theatre, Clore Education Centre, The British Museum,  London WC1

A lecture by Neil Faulkner, University of Bristol/Arab Revolt Project

Followed by wine

Lecture abstract

In contrast to the attritional trench warfare on the major fronts of the First World War, the Arab Revolt in Arabia and Syria between 1916 and 1918 was an extreme form of asymmetrical warfare, in which small numbers of highly mobile and lightly equipped guerrillas waged war against the regular forces of the Ottoman Empire. The effectiveness of the Arab insurgents in this conflict has been debated ever since. Pioneering archaeology in the deserts of Southern Jordan is now revealing an extensively militarised landscape that implies something more than ‘a sideshow of a sideshow’. The implication is that thousands of Ottoman troops were dispersed across the landscape and tied down in static defensive bases in a wide-ranging war without fronts against an invisible but all-pervasive enemy. The Arab Revolt turns out to have been a prototype for ‘people’s war’ – with T. E. Lawrence its seminal theorist – that is, war of a kind that has since shaped much of the history of the 20th century, and which continues to shape that of the early 21st. 

An Ottoman ary tent-ring overlooking the Wadi Rum 

The Palestine Exploration Fund, 2 Hinde Mews, Marylebone Lane, London, W1U 2AA
Tel: +44 (0)20 7935 5379 | Fax: +44 (0)20 7486 7438 | Email: ExecSec@PEF.org.uk
Registered company: 13606 | Registered charity: 212538