Introduction and aims
of the project

Great Arab Revolt Project


The Great Arab Revolt Project (GARP) is planned as a ten-year project to investigate First World War archaeology in Jordan and develop new heritage sites for visitors. In contrast to the Western Front, where considerable fieldwork has taken place, First World War remains in Jordan have never been systematically investigated. These remains have particular interest for four reasons:

  • they are associated with the exploits and legend of Lawrence of Arabia, an iconic historical and cultural figure in the English-speaking world
  • they represent a struggle that was central to the creation of the states and conflicts of the modern Middle East
  • they represent the archaeological imprint of a distinctive type of irregular or guerrilla warfare which has been of huge historical importance over the last 90 years
  • they offer a range of military landscapes, sites and artefact assemblages, and a range of memories, associations and modern significances, which contrast with the more familiar archaeology, commemoration and tourism of the Western Front

Our aim, working closely with Jordanian colleagues and local communities, is to catalogue the visible remains (buildings and earthworks), to carry out surveys and trial excavations at a representative sample of sites, to record oral histories and folk memories, and to develop one or more sites for effective public presentation.

Work in the first season (November 2006) focused on two main sites. Ma'an was the principal Ottoman military base in what is now southern Jordan, and we have established that the high ground for miles around the Hijaz railway station was entrenched in 1916-1918, transforming the area into a First World War trench fortress. Wadi Rutm, about 60 km south of Ma'an, is the site of a fortified railway station, an Ottoman army camp, a fortified hilltop redoubt, and various other military features on and close to the former railway line extending in both directions. While Ma'an represents a major, heavily defended base, Wadi Rutm represents the militarisation of communication lines and the landscape more generally. (For a full summary report on the 2006 fieldwork, see Current World Archaeology 23.) These two sites together constitute an effective initial sample of the archaeology of the Arab Revolt, and will therefore continue to be the principal foci of our fieldwork.

The Great Arab Revolt Project is based at the University of Bristol, and is supported by the Jordanian Department of Antiquities, the al-Hussein bin Talal University, the Council for British Research in the Levant, HRH Prince Hassan, and Current World Archaeology magazine.

For more information please see our current prospectus which describes the project work in more detail:

Read entire prospectus online       Download prospectus as Word file        Download prospectus as pdf file