Monday, 22 October 2012

Beyond the Dead Horizon

I am very pleased to have been able to contribute to a new book, Beyond the Dead Horizon, edited by Nicholas J Saunders.

Hadrian and the Hejaz Railway, Studies in Modern Conflict Archaeology

Hadrian and the Hejaz Railway: Linear features in conflict landscapes. Chapter 13.
The Hedjaz Railway was built by the Ottomans to take Hajj pilgrims from Damascus to Medina in the early twentieth century, though it probably also had covert military and geo-political functions. Completed in 1908, it was served by station buildings regularly spaced along its length, many of which were protected by blockhouses and nearby hilltop forts by the time of the Great Arab Revolt of 1916-18, during the First World War. In AD 122, during his visit to Britain, the Roman Emperor Hadrian commissioned his eponymous wall to run from the River Tyne near modern Newcastle to the Solway estuary near Carlisle. It formed the northern limit of the Roman Empire, and was defended at regular intervals by ‘mile castles’ and forts. The Hedjaz Railway and Hadrian’s Wall are iconic linear features in their respective landscapes. They are both liminal entities, designed not as impenetrable barriers but rather as stabilising and boundary-defining constructions for the military, for traders, and as ideological borders for state imperialism. This paper takes changing views of the environs of Hadrian’s Wall as landscapes of danger, military activity, romance, and tourism, and applies them to the Hedjaz Railway in order to generate a new narrative understanding of modern conflict along a linear conflict zone. 
See full details on the Oxbow web pages

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Helles memorial , Gallipoli

A lone gun relic points to the Helles memoral
The Helles Memorial stands on the southern tip of the Gallipoli peninsula.  It is an obelisk over 30m high and dominates the landscape and can be seen by every ship entering the Dardanelles.

The British Commonwealth memorial has the dual function as a memorial to the entire Gallipoli campaign and as a commemoration for the servicemen who died and have no known grave.
The memorial bears more than 21,000 names of those who died there or were buried at sea. The United Kingdom and Indian forces named on the memorial died in operations throughout the peninsula, the Australians at Helles. There are also panels for those who died or were buried at sea in Gallipoli waters. The memorial bears more than 21,000 names.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Imperial Camel Corps Memorial, London. 

Modern Conflict Archaeology
Imperial Camel Corps memorial, London

The Imperial Camel Corps ( ICC) monuments stands in the Victoria Embankment gardens in London. I believe it was erected in 1927 to commemorate the dead of the ICC and their actions during the First World War.

My research into the landscapes of Jordan during the war has taken me to Mudawwara , a small railway station and fortified landscape in the south of the country and close to the border with Saudi Arabia.  The ICC carried out a spectacular raid here in August 1918 and this is commemorated on this monument.

Friday, 9 March 2012

A Line in the Sand

I have recently read a great book by James Barr about the Middle East in the  early 20th century.

Modern Conflict Archaeology

 ‘A Line in the Sand’,is a sequel to  Barr's  ‘Setting the Desert on Fire’ and uses recently released archives to relate the involvement of Britain and France  in the arbitrary ‘carve-up’ of the Middle East during the first half of the twentieth century.

     He presents his interpretation of the intriguing story of the period when Britain and France controlled the Middle East in the aftermath of the First World War. The book resembles a gripping spy thriller populated with well known political and military figures and improbable characters engaged in ‘venomous rivalry’, political posturing and state sponsored terrorism. However, this was not fiction but violent reality. 

In December 1915 the Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, summoned politician Sir Mark Sykes to Downing Street to advise him and the war cabinet on the future of the Ottoman Empire; an issue that threatened Britain’s alliance with France. Sykes wanted a dividing line from the Mediterranean coast to the Persian frontier- ‘from the ‘e’ in Acre to the last ‘k’ in Kirkuk’. Later, Sykes met with the French civil servant François George-Picot and they fashioned the secret Sykes-Picot agreement; territory to the north of the arbitrary line would go to France and that to the south to Britain. This agreement lead to the post war creation of mandates granting Iraq, Palestine and Transjordan to Britain and Syria and Lebanon to France. It was intended to shore-up the Entente Cordial, however the agreement ignited Arab Zionist conflict, provoked thirty years of rivalry and animosity and a short war as Britain and France settled old scores. 

This is an expertly researched and authoritative book that is easy to read. It reveals new narratives about the formation of the Middle East and how Britain curtailed French ambitions in the Levant by supporting Zionists’ claims to Palestine. 

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Modern Conflict Archaeology New book

Beyond the Dead Horizon: Studies in Modern Conflict Archaeology

Modern Conflict Archaeology

 An extract from  the Oxbow web site:-

The new interdisciplinary study of 20th-century conflict archaeology has developed rapidly over the last decade. Its anthropological approach to modern conflicts, their material culture and their legacies has freed such investigations from the straitjacket of traditional 'battlefield archaeology'. It offers powerful new methodologies and theoretical insights into the nature and experience of industrialised war, whether between nation states or as civil conflict, by individuals as well as groups and by women and children, as well as men of fighting age. The complexities of studying wars within living memory demand a new response - a sensitised, cross-disciplinary approach which draws on many other kinds of academic study but which does not privilege any particular discipline. It is the most democratic kind of archaeology - one which takes a bottom-up approach - in order to understand the web of emotional, military, political, economic and cultural experiences and legacies of conflict. These 18 papers offer a coherent demonstration of what modern conflict archaeology is and what it is capable of and offer an intellectual home for those not interested in traditional 'war studies' or military history, but who respond to the idea of a multidisciplinary approach to all modern conflict. 240p, 90 col & b/w illus (Oxbow Books, 2012)

Full details HERE

Kinmel Camp Riots

Servicemen buried at Bodelwyddan and the Kinmel Camp Riot.

More information about the Kinmel Camp Riots is available on the BBC Northeast Wales web site. Click Here to view

Monday, 5 March 2012

The Kinmel Camp riots of 1919

An interesting story about the Kinmel Camp Riots of 1919 has appeared on the BBC Wales History  website. Click HERE  read.
This is a Modern Conflict Archaeology  story about how unrest lead to a riot within  a transit  camp due to the concerns of Canadian soldiers largely being ignored by the officers.
The article was written by Phil Carradice who "is a broadcaster, writer and poet. His blog posts provide a distinctly Welsh perspective on major events in world history, as well as revealing some little-known events from the Welsh past." Someone who's posts  I shall be following in the future.

John B Winterburn
Modern Conflict Archaeology