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Ghosts In The Desert: The Archaeological Investigation Of A Sub-Saharan Battlefield

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Chapter Summary

The second decade of the twentieth century CE is dominated in the popular imagination by the First World War, a mechanised and industrialised conflict that was responsible for a greater loss of life than had ever happened before. On 14 November 1918, a battle took place at Kallaya Pit in the Gawerat Almelh of Tripolitania, where the quiet of the desert was shattered by a fire-fight lasting several hours. The battlefield was investigated through two main techniques. The first of these was a metal detector survey of the entire area. The second main element of the project was to undertake a topographic survey of the battlefield. The archaeological investigation of the battle provided an extra dimension to the historical accounts. Taken together, different strands of evidence produce a rounded account of the events of 14 November 1918 and have important lessons for the discipline of conflict archaeology.

Keywords: archaeological investigation; First World War; industrialised conflict; Kallaya Pit



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