Technique Profile: Couching Embroidery

[Documentation of the British Museum’s Palestine Textile Collection: A Knowledge Exchange Fellowship] By OmarJoseph Nasser-Khoury For this blogpost I have decided to focus on one type of surface embellishment embroidery Couching (tahrir, shughul talhami) that I came across whilst working on the British Museum textile collections from Palestine. Couching is the second most prevalent decorative surface work found throughout Palestine. The technique was best developed and used in the Bethlehem and Beit Jala area, especially in the late 19th and early 20th century. It is often thought that the technique was probably inspired and developed from Ottoman couching embroidery (see Weir, 1989: 127; Kawar & Nasir, 1992: 15; Kawar, 2011: 139). In the south, in the Jerusalem and Bethlehem area…

Digging for Oil at Khirbet Ghozlan

Dr Jamie Fraser The site of Khirbet Um al-Ghozlan (the “Ruins of the Mother of the Gazelles”) sits on a steep knoll overlooking the stunning Wadi Rayyan in north Jordan. Most archaeologists would classify the site as a hamlet or village, as it is only 0.4 ha in size. In this respect, Khirbet Ghozlan sits comfortably with our traditional understanding of the Early Bronze IV period (2600-2000 BCE), during which people abandoned large, fortified, mounded sites and dispersed into small, undefended villages. However, Khirbet Ghozlan is remarkable for a monumental enclosure wall. Built partly as a double wall of massive, megalithic slabs, this enclosure controlled access to the Ghozlan knoll. Why defend such a tiny site? Olive oil and the…

Extreme Archaeology of the Black Desert, Jordan

Yorke Rowan, on behalf of the Eastern Badia Archaeological Project (EBAP) team Our adventures in extreme archaeology in the Black Desert of Jordan bring known expectations. We know that the long first day includes loading a Toyota Hilux and larger cargo truck; various stop offs to pick up water tanks, ice, and fuel; driving two hours off road through the rough basalt; arriving to unpack, build camp, inhale dust and flies; ending with the inevitable search for the first night’s meal. The sore limbs, chapped lips, more flies, snakes and melted ice are also all known. What was unknown during the 2018 expedition was the two days of torrential rains, wind and lightening. The soggy beginning brought on by this…

A glimpse into the archaeological training of the Islamic Baydha Project

Micaela Sinibaldi Islamic Baydha Project, season 2018 The Islamic Baydha Project offers archaeological training to all its team members, including Jordanians and international trainees and volunteers. Participants are trained personally by the Project Director, Micaela Sinibaldi, on all activities, which include: Techniques of archaeological excavation Techniques of documentation of excavated stratigraphic units: use of forms for description and documentation of the stratigraphy as well as drawing of the units on a top plan and on sections. Techniques of documentation of Buildings Archaeology, including the description of the  stratigraphy and of the building styles of architectural stratigraphic units and their documentation on top plans and elevations. Creation of a Harris Matrix of stratigraphic units and architectural stratigraphic units Artifacts analysis: preliminary…

A Day in Jerusalem

Charlotte Kelsted, 2018 Last month, a generous travel grant from the Palestine Exploration Fund allowed me to carry out an introductory research trip to Palestine. My research explores the attitudes and experiences of British women (colonial wives, missionaries, teachers, nurses and others) who resided in Palestine during the British Mandate (1920-1948), focusing specifically on encounters between these British women and local Palestinian Arab and Jewish communities. I started my PhD seven months ago, and this research trip has undoubtedly been the highlight of my doctoral study thus far. After arriving into Tel Aviv late in the evening, I spent the first night of my trip at the charming Kenyon Institute in East Jerusalem. The Kenyon Institute is situated on the…

Islamic Bayda Project

In October/November 2017 the Islamic Bayda Project has carried on its fourth season of archaeological excavations at Khirbet Bayda in Petra. The project, which I direct since its outset and is affiliated with the Council for British Research in the Levant, in season 2017 had a duration of 4 weeks.  The Islamic Bayda Project, part of a larger project, which I also lead, The Late Petra Project, is a project of excavations, surveys, conservation, training and community engagement. In season 2017, we returned to the two mosques at the site, which are also the only two mosques ever excavated in Petra, therefore important witnesses of the Islamic-period settlement in Petra. After removing the backfill, we completed the study of Mosque…

A Study of Fatimid Metalwork from the Keir Collection of Islamic Art, Dallas Museum of Art, Texas

PEF in the Field Blog A Study of Fatimid Metalwork from the Keir Collection of Islamic Art, Dallas Museum of Art, Texas, (June 2017) 30 June 2018 Gregory Bilotto My PhD research at SOAS University of London covers utilitarian and higher-quality metalwork produced under the Fatimids in Egypt, Ifriqiya (North Africa), and Bilad al-Sham (Levant) from the 4th-6th H/ 10th-12th CE centuries. The utilitarian objects range from buckets, pans, pots, and tools, while higher-quality objects include incense burners, lamps, lampstands, and pomanders. The Palestine Exploration Fund generously provided funding to examine several examples of these objects during June 2017 in the Keir Collection of Islamic Art, Dallas Museum of Art, Texas. This study was a continuation from my earlier research…

2018 Excavations at the Fortified Hilltop Site, Umm Tawabin, Ghor as-Safi, Jordan

PEF Blog Report by Alexandra Ariotti In January 2018, I undertook a second excavation season at Umm Tawabin, an impressive fortified hilltop site (880 x 450 m total area), strategically positioned above the town of Ghor as-Safi and the mouth of Wadi al-‘Hasa, overlooking the northern Wadi ‘Arabah in Jordan, and with panoramic views on all sides. Through survey (2015) and excavations (2017-2018) funded by three PEF grants, my investigation has sought to establish the occupational history of Umm Tawabin as an important link in a chain of fortifications, reinforcing the local Nabataean defence system and later the Roman limes Arabicus, and with evidence of habitation over a much broader time period. The site containsat least four buildings (Forts A-D)…

Back to London

OmarJoseph Nasser-Khoury [Birzeit University – Palestine]  At the risk of using a cliché, I find it a bit hard to believe that a year has already passed since the start of the first phase of the project ‘Documentation of the British Museum’s Palestine Textiles Collection.’ I remember the frantic last minute proposal writing and organising efforts communicated through past–midnight e-mails fired back and forth across the world. Not much has changed; especially not the frenzy or past-midnight e-mails! Indeed, the excitement is reassuringly undiminished and chaos as always, reigns supreme. Now as I prepare for my return to London to resume the second, and possibly final, phase of the project, I reflect on last year’s experience.  In 2018, I spent more than four months at the British Museum and updated…

The Making of a Pasha: Charles Moore Watson

Dr Michael Talbot  Lecturer in the History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Middle East, University of Greenwich  BBC & AHRC New Generation Thinker  ‘My dear Watson,  Long live the Pasha! May Your Excellency enjoy every bliss, and flourish like the palm in which the doves sit and sing their love songs.’   Herbert Kitchener, cited in Stanley Lane-Poole, Watson Pasha (1919)  With this rather teasing note, Herbert Kitchener congratulated Charles Moore Watson on being awarded the rank of mirliva, or major-general, in the Egyptian army in 1885. This high office came with the Ottoman title pasha, with the result that Watson would ever be known as “Watson Pasha“. An engineer by training with an interest in surveying, Watson was keen supporter of the Royal Geographic Society. A visit to Palestine in…