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Beyond Gallipoli: New Perspectives on Anzac


Chapter 13



The Anzac Area at Arıburnu

Jessie Birkett-Rees1

Battlefield archaeology

Historical photos of the Gallipoli peninsula taken during the First World War show a landscape bustling with activity, a city of tents beside the shore, terraced dugouts excavated into the hillsides, herds of animals and groups of soldiers making their way through the wartime settlements that developed on either side of the front line. The activity and the stagnation experienced in the entrenched front lines is also captured in these images; it must be emphasised that during the Gallipoli campaign, and indeed in many theatres of the First World War, soldiers spent more of their time digging than fighting. Above the battlefield, aerial photos lay bare the complex terrain of Gallipoli and reveal the networks of trenches and tunnels, military encampments and stores, cemeteries and hospitals that spread across the countryside during the conflict. Maps too, some traced from those early aerial photographs, record the complexity of the wartime landscape. But what of this landscape today? Gallipoli today is a site for the cultivation of national narratives and collective commemoration, centred on memorials and cemeteries constructed after the war. With the commemorative landscape as the focus of attention, the remains of the battlefields themselves are largely unobserved and, until now, unrecorded. The first investigation of the archaeological landscapes of the Gallipoli battlefields has allowed us to examine what remains of the wartime landscape and consider it within the context of the broader human history of the Gallipoli peninsula.

Given that we have such a wealth of archival material from the Gallipoli campaign one might wonder what an archaeological approach could possibly add to a site so comprehensively recorded. The answer is context and perspective, as well as insight into the preservation of the century-old earthworks and artefacts from this major industrialised conflict. Archaeologists approach and interpret landscapes in different ways than do military historians, whose accounts have dominated our understanding of the First World War. Rather than examining the battlefield as a scene of victory or defeat, tactics or strategy, heroism or tragedy, archaeologists seek to understand the development of these landscapes over time. This encompasses the formation and preservation of war-era features and the articulation of relationships between the battlefield features, the pre-war record and the post-war commemorative landscape. Here I present some of the results of the Joint Historical and Archaeological Survey2 and consider the roles of archaeology on the battlefields of Gallipoli and the significance of encounters with the physical record of the past.

This chapter addresses the archaeology of a battlefield and participates in a broader sub-discipline addressing sites and landscapes of conflict. The investigation of landscapes has become increasingly important in anthropological archaeology,3 and the investigation of the new physical and symbolic landscapes constructed during and after the First World War presents very interesting terrain.4 Battlefields and landscapes of conflict have unique aspects related to their function and offer a unique perspective on the behavioural aspects of a culture, or cultures, in conflict.5 The study of war has occupied historians for centuries, but archaeologists have begun the study of the physical evidence and anthropological theory of conflict comparatively recently.6 The necessary methodologies and theoretical approaches continue to develop and have, in the last decade, been united with rapidly developing remote sensing and spatial technologies. These noninvasive techniques broaden the capabilities of archaeology and are resulting in new contributions to the contextual study of past human conflict.7 ‘Conflict archaeology’ began as an area concentrating on military strategy and frontline tactics but has developed into an area concerned with the broader anthropology of conflict. Excavations have taken place at many sites of conflict relating to standing structures, such as forts and castles, but this is not typically the case for battlefields for reasons that I will outline below. It is only with enhanced non-invasive methods that these sites and this aspect of military history have begun to be explored using archaeological techniques.

Concurrent with the development of archaeological approaches to battlefields is the rising public interest in the history and commemoration of conflict. This interest is clear from the increasing numbers of visitors to historical battlefields and memorials, and in the public appetite for news, exhibitions and publications on the topic. Academic interest in recent conflicts has always been relatively high too, with the substantial historical scholarship on Gallipoli as a key example. Yet engagement with the material remains of recent battlefields was largely an arena for amateur archaeologists and enthusiasts. ‘Battlefield archaeology’ of the type conducted by relic hunters with an eye for military memorabilia8 proliferated alongside rising public interest in the First World War and received surprisingly little critique from professional archaeologists.9 This attitude has since changed, with increasing numbers of professional archaeologists engaged in this area of research, raising awareness of appropriate investigative techniques and ethical practices. Their contributions have seen the archaeological investigation of World War battlefields develop into a legitimate field of research.10

The archaeology of the First World War that has since developed is historical archaeology, informed by a wealth of documents, but it is also landscape archaeology with a significant spatial component, industrial archaeology, anthropological archaeology and ultimately public archaeology. The basis of conflict archaeology, at its most fundamental, is the fact that people fight in ways which reflect their training and they live in ways which reflect their cultural and social context, and such behaviour leaves behind physical remains that can be interpreted.11 As a partner to history, the independent line of evidence offered by archaeological research has the ability to enhance the documentary record and build a more complete understanding of past events. The First World War recently passed out of living memory and has been examined by historians for many years; it is archaeology which is now positioned to produce new information on the material culture of the first global, industrialised conflict.

The joint historical and archaeological survey

The Joint Historical and Archaeological Survey (JHAS) was an interdisciplinary project involving Turkish, Australian and New Zealand historians and archaeologists. The project resulted from a Senate Committee Report on Matters Relating to the Gallipoli Peninsula (2005), recommending a survey of the heritage features in the northern battlefields of Gallipoli, the area known as Anzac or Arıburnu, in which the major battles between the ANZAC and Ottoman Turkish troops took place during 1915. The postwar investigation of the battlefield by the Australian Historical Mission in 1919 recommended that this ‘Anzac Area’ area be reserved as a memorial landscape. In preparation for the peace talks that year, the Imperial War Graves Commission (IWGC) produced a map that defined the ‘Old Anzac’ position, the area held from April 25 until the August offensive. This map was included as Map 3 in the Treaty of Sevres and the Treaty of Lausanne, which formalised the Anzac Area (Plate 13.1). This treaty also provided for IWGC control of cemeteries built outside the area, fifteen in all, at Cape Helles, Suvla and north of the Anzac Area.

The Gallipoli battlefields remain restricted to archaeological excavation, due to their status as an open cemetery and a national park, and the JHAS is the first project to receive permission to conduct fieldwork this area. The last collaborative survey of these battlefields was the Australian Historical Mission in 1919, led by Charles Bean who had served as a war correspondent at Gallipoli and would later become Australia’s official war historian.12 Bean spent eleven days in the northern battlefields of Gallipoli, assisted in his research by several Gallipoli veterans.13 These included cartographer Herbert Buchanan, photographer Hubert Wilkins, artist George Lambert and Turkish officer Major Zeki Bey. It was Bean’s conviction that the landscape of Gallipoli played a significant role in the conflict and he sought to record and understand certain events in relation to the battlefield terrain. Bean collected ‘relics’ from Gallipoli and, together with the wartime earthworks, drew these artefacts into a historical narrative of the campaign. Bean’s method, in which he sought to identify specific trenches and sectors of the battlefield in the post-war landscape, is quite different to the JHAS team’s efforts to record what remains of the battlefield without preference for specific positions or historical events. Yet in seeking to add context and meaning to historical events by linking them with the landscape the Australian Historical Mission and the JHAS share some common goals.

The geography of Gallipoli is a dramatic combination of rugged ridges and plateaus, deeply incised by seasonal waterways, giving onto the coasts of the Aegean and Dardanelles. Broad plains exist only near Cape Helles, Eceabat and Suvla Bay. The popular understanding of Gallipoli focusses on the beaches, but it is the northeast-southwest trending ridgelines which define the Anzac Area. These ridges were named by the Allies as the First, Second and Third Ridge inland from the coastal landing places. The Third Ridge was set as the objective for many of the Anzac troops landing at Gallipoli on April 25, but this was never achieved. By the first week of May the front lines had become established along the Second Ridge.14

Within the Anzac Area, the JHAS has concentrated on the Second Ridge as a microcosm of the conflict. Some of the more legendary struggles on both sides of the campaign took place here, providing the opportunity to investigate Ottoman and Allied front line positions. The Second Ridge exemplifies the development of trench warfare at Gallipoli, including extensive tunnelling which took place beneath the front lines. In the first few days of the 1915 conflict, the soldiers had to excavate and attempt to consolidate their positions, a process which evolved into offensive and defensive tunnelling and the formation of subterranean positions. The areas behind the front lines are equally significant for our archaeological investigation, as it is here that tens of thousands of people lived for months. The JHAS goal was to record the physical remains of the 1915 battle, along the front lines and behind them, in addition to recording the features of the modern commemorative landscape and the more fugitive pre-war record.

Landscapes of Gallipoli

Today much of the landscape is covered in dense garrigue vegetation, native to the Mediterranean. In the years immediately before the conflict the Gallipoli peninsula was agricultural but the Anzac area grew with ‘wild scrub’,15 cultivated only in the more easterly valleys that give onto the open plain. During the campaign General Sir John Monash commented on the ‘prickly scrub, with which these hills are covered, and which has inflicted many an unkind scratch on hands, arms and bare knees’.16 This wild and unforgiving scrub was much denuded as the conflict progressed and the landscape of war, familiar from historical photos, developed. Sergeant Cyril Lawrence of the 2nd Field Company Engineers vividly described this change after the battle for Lone Pine: ‘The undergrowth has been cut down, like mown hay, simply stalks left standing, by the rifle fire, whilst the earth itself appears just as though one had taken a huge rake and scratched it all over’.17

After the evacuation and reservation of the Anzac Area, scrub rapidly returned to the gullies and ridges. In 1973 the 33,000 hectare Gallipoli Peninsula Historical National Park was established. With clearance of vegetation forbidden and reduced intervention in the area, the scrub has grown thickly over the former battlefields. Bushfires swept across the Anzac Area in the 1970s and again in the 1990s, for a time laying bare the topography of the battlefield, but the natural vegetation returned even more thickly.18 This has been added to by stands of pine trees planted by the park authorities in several locations, including along the Second Ridge road. Although this vegetation obscures the remnant earthworks from 1915, the JHAS noted that the scrub has helped to preserve the features in the silt and sandy soils, with the Arbutus andrachne (called ‘rhododendron’ by the Anzacs) having a particular preference for the former trench lines.19

The landscape and vegetation of the Gallipoli battlefields have played an important role in the memorialisation of the conflict. This is expertly expressed in art produced after the war, such as George Lambert’s The Landing at Gallipoli, in which the men blend into the scrub beneath the rugged ridgelines; the small, faceless figures are dwarfed by the detailed character of the landscape which rises against them (Plate 8.1). The relationships established between the Anzacs and the terrain in which they found themselves are as complex as Lambert’s painting, and emphasise the processes of memory making and the production of cultural landscapes at Gallipoli during the conflict. This can be traced in several media, the first being the spread of place names across the battlefields during the war. The provision of place names to the topography of the peninsula was a military necessity, with tactical concerns highlighted by toponyms such as the 400 Plateau, Baby 700, Shell Green and Shrapnel Valley, but also reveals the sentiments and individuals associated with the newly formed battlefield landscape. Surprise Gully and Korku Dere (Valley of Horror) highlight the emotional responses to experience on the battlefield whilst locations such as Monash Valley and the Kemalyeri memorialise the leaders of the day. There were of course two sides to the conflict and therefore two overlays of wartime place names were produced by the Allied and Ottoman forces (Plate 13.2., see also AWM collections RCDIG1011575). These new names reconfigured the geography of Gallipoli, memorialising the events and personalities of the 1915 war. For pragmatic and sentimental reasons many of the place names created during the war were retained in the post-war landscape; the two geographies coexist today.

A second medium of landscape memorialisation was the collection of battlefield souvenirs, common amongst the Anzac troops. Beyond the collection of personal items or military memorabilia, several chose to keep or send home pieces of the foreign landscape itself.20 The beauty and terror of Gallipoli evidently appealed to many of the men; the landscape both threatened and protected them and they developed complex feelings for the place. As Sergeant Lawrence explains, ‘It has grown upon one: we took it, and tamed it and somehow its very wildness and ruggedness grips you’.21 Monash sent several holly-oak acorns home and others did likewise, including Captain William Lempriere Winter-Cooke MC who provided the seeds planted at Geelong Grammar. Quercus calliprinos, the Gallipoli holly-oak, was also planted in the public contexts of the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Shrine of Remembrance reserve, Melbourne. In addition to the distinctive holly-oak, soldiers Benjamin Smith and Keith McDowell sent home pine cones from the tree which grew on 400 Plateau (‘Lone Pine’). Seedlings were propagated and planted in Australia in the decades following the war.22

During the war, the Anzacs attempted to familiarise the landscape of the Anzac Area, with some going so far as to obtain wattle seeds from home to scatter on the graves of fallen friends.23 A desire to plant the Anzac Area with suitable trees from the Dominions whose armies fought there was entertained after the war, but the seedlings failed to thrive in the different climatic conditions and the plan was abandoned.24 Interestingly, this process of identification with the rugged landscape and the exchange of flora continues today, with the presence of small eucalyptus trees near Johnston’s Jolly evidence of continuing attempts to integrate the distant landscapes of Australia and Gallipoli.

The numerous reasons for identification with the landscape are beyond the scope of this paper, but it is worth noting the enduring and widespread appeal of the peninsula. At one point or another almost all the diarists from Gallipoli reflect on the striking beauty of the landscape.25 Lawrence likened the Gallipoli coast to a future Nice or Cannes, ‘the sunset was simply glorious; jingo it was fine’,26 and the evenings just as flawless, ‘at night as the moon rises to the full, the picture is perfect’.27 The serenity of the landscape of Gallipoli even during the bitter conflict was something of a paradox to the soldiers and remains so to visitors today. Physical beauty is bound with the name of the place, ‘kallipolis’ meaning the beautiful city in ancient Greek,28 and has been commented on for centuries, just as the geography of the peninsula and Dardanelles has ensured that Gallipoli has been a desirable and strategic landscape for much of human history. Reading popular histories of Gallipoli one might think that this pivotal geography and conflict over the peninsula began and ended in 1915, but Gallipoli has been a cultural threshold and a contested landscape for millennia.29 The broader human history of the peninsula provides thought-provoking context for the conflict which occurred in 1915 and the material remains of previous peoples presented the soldiers of the 1915 war with interesting encounters with antiquity.

Encounters with antiquity

The Gallipoli peninsula has been a corridor for human movement between Asia and Europe for millennia and has been contested by successive empires.30 It is war which defined Gallipoli and the Dardanelles in antiquity, from the siege of Troy to the Greco-Persian wars, which saw Xerxes and his Persians cross the Hellespont (Dardanelles) and Alexander the Great’s reciprocal crossing from Cape Helles into Asia.31 The Peloponnesian war between Athenians and Spartans also saw early naval battles in the Dardanelles (Xenophon Hellenica 2.2.1). The association with conflict is evident in the earliest written histories of the area, whether you take these to be the regional treaties of the Hittites or the later literary histories of Homer, Herodotus and Thucydides. The meeting of eastern and western empires at the Dardanelles in 1915 was the most recent in a series of struggles for control of this strategic region.

Archaeology and war have an enduring relationship and the two are surprisingly entwined during the First World War.32 The spatial technologies which I, and many archaeologists, now routinely use were for the most part developed for the military, and several came directly from the First World War. The archaeology of the Gallipoli peninsula is also significant to the experience of the soldiers in 1915, whose encounters with antiquity gave them a brief glimpse of the broader human history of the area they were living and fighting in.33 Various chance meetings between soldiers and the material remains of former inhabitants of the peninsula provide us with rare information on the pre-war archaeology of the battlefields and information on the role of archaeology during the battle.34

Interest in the ancient record of Gallipoli was not limited to the few classicists and archaeologists in the ranks. The diary entries of Sergeant Cyril Lawrence and others reveal the soldiers’ awareness of antiquity within the Anzac Area. Lawrence was tunnelling near Lone Pine on the 400 Plateau and noted that ‘in places we run through great deposits of pottery buried as low as twenty feet. This is very fine stuff and in an excellent state of preservation’.35 The ceramics that Lawrence describes, ‘red and of a very fine texture’, suggest Roman material. It seems quite likely that a Roman outpost or small settlement once existed on the strategic site of the 400 Plateau; the JHAS fieldwork also located Roman ceramics and tiles in this area.

The remains of the pre-war history of the Gallipoli battlefields were experienced first-hand by the soldiers of 1915, contributing to our understanding of the human record on the peninsula and also contributing to the soldiers’ experience of Gallipoli. For some, the location already carried with it the resonance of Classical history and mythology, but the instances in which the creation of the wartime landscape revealed the physical record of past people gave soldiers such as Sergeant Lawrence pause for thought. The strategic geography of Gallipoli and soldiers’ responses to its striking landscape and deep history provide a valuable substrate to the material record of World War I.

Surveying Gallipoli

Archaeology is most closely associated with excavation, which is by nature a destructive process. But excavation is not the only method available to the archaeologist. This is fortunate because excavation is not permitted in the Anzac Area, which is reserved as a memorial landscape for the many missing. For this reason, the JHAS research was completely non-invasive, using established archaeological survey and remote sensing techniques.36 The dense scrub which now covers the Anzac Area, together with the unusually rough terrain, meant that conventional grid-based archaeological survey was not effective. The JHAS instead operated a feature-based survey, following trench lines to delineate their full extent and recording all associated artefacts and features within the transect.37 The only subsurface investigation consisted of remote sensing, using ground penetrating radar (GPR) to identify potential tunnel locations along the Second Ridge Road between Quinn’s Post and Lone Pine.

The position of earthworks and artefacts were recorded with precision using differential GPS (DGPS). The spatial data recorded during the survey allows us to integrate the record of material remains on the battlefield with historical documents from the war era, including military maps and aerial photographs. The goals of the survey were to record what visibly remains within the former battlefield and for this reason the spatial data from the project were recorded against a blank background and associated with historical maps, plans and photographs after fieldwork. This prevented the survey team from following historical maps in the field and mitigated any tendency to infer features where there were not distinctly visible remains. Using a Geographic Information System (GIS), the assembled archaeological record has been linked with features recorded in Ottoman and Allied historical documents. The layered structure of GIS, which incorporates qualitative and quantitative information and relates different layers through the use of a shared coordinate system, lends itself to the integrated analysis of this range of spatial data. Within the project GIS we are able to move between the different scales of artefact, site and landscape, to study different temporal layers of information in isolation or in unison, examine earthworks and artefact distributions, investigate rates of preservation, and analyse the relationships between the pre-war, wartime and modern commemorative features.

Core concepts in archaeological research are context and integrity; these principles are central to our methodology and interpretation. In archaeological terms, context is the relationship that features and artefacts have to each other and the situation in which they are found. For archaeologists, this context allows for meaningful analyses, reconstruction of site formation processes and interpretation of behaviour. By recording artefacts in context at Gallipoli we are able to understand the formation and preservation of the battlefield site. The archaeological integrity of the site is also important here. The integrity of a feature or site relates to disturbance and post-depositional processes. For a site to have integrity means that the site must be relatively undisturbed, with its patterns and layers of artefacts and other archaeological evidence relatively intact. The multidisciplinary approach of the JHAS, which links geospatial science with historical and archaeological analyses, allows us to examine the system of features and artefacts that evolved as a unit over nine months in 1915 and make some useful and unique observations about the Anzac area.

Several key categories of features recorded during the five seasons of the JHAS fieldwork include trenches, tunnels and dugouts. The earthworks situated beyond the principal memorial sites are weathered but remain relatively untouched and retain their integrity. The JHAS recorded 16.5 kilometres of trench lines, a substantial sample of the battlefield, extending along the Second Ridge from Chatham’s Post in the south to Baby 700 in the north and from No.3 Outpost on North Beach along the coast to Hell Spit (Plate 13.3). The trenches, which were once around 2 metres deep, are now preserved to a height of 80–90 centimetres on average, including the accumulation of leaf litter. In exposed areas such as Courtney’s Post depths can be as shallow as 30 centimetres and, depending on the degree of slope and erosion, widths vary from 60 centimetres to close to 3 metres. Tunnels once connected to the trench system and formed an important subterranean feature of the battlefield. The underground landscape of Gallipoli is fascinating and well documented in the field notebooks and diaries of the sappers and engineers, though little of this landscape is visible on the surface today. Tunnelling took place in front line areas and the JHAS recorded slumped tunnels and tunnel openings still visible at No.2 Post in the north of the Anzac area, and along the Second Ridge at Quinn’s Post, Johnston’s Jolly, Lone Pine, Silt Spur and Holly Ridge. Dugouts were also an important part of the battlefield earthworks, and are often located near the remnant trench lines, as roughly circular depressions of 50 centimetres depth on average. Single dugouts were common but often groups of two or three were located and, in areas behind the front lines, semi-subterranean spaces of several meters were found. Dugouts served multiple purposes in the battlefield and the remains of ordnance and cooking and eating equipment were frequently found within.

The categories of artefact on the battlefield are numerous and include ordnance, ceramics and bricks, metal containers, wire, and personal items such as buttons, buckles and boot heels. Given the industrial scale of the conflict it is unsurprising that ordnance pieces were collectively the most common artefact recorded in our survey. Fragments of shrapnel, shells, bullets, cartridge casings and magazine clips are scattered throughout the survey area. Unexploded bullets with Mauser cases and Ottoman head stamps denoting their type, date and place of manufacture provide valuable contextual information, as do bullets and cases stamped with Latin letters and Roman numerals. Shrapnel fragments are also common finds on the battlefield, found as irregular fragments and curved pieces of heavy metal from medium or large calibre shells. Small, spherical bullets or shrapnel balls from inside shells were also scattered over the battlefield.38

In addition to the ordnance that is found in all areas of the battlefield, certain types and distributions of artefacts provide important information on the integrity of the site. Barbed wire, of British and German manufacture, was found almost exclusively along the former front lines of the Second Ridge where entanglements of wire would have been arranged in no-man’s land. When the survey results are plotted against an Ottoman map of the battlefield produced in 1916 (AWM RC03163, Plate 13.2) from a survey conducted under Brigadier General Mehmet Şevki Pasha directly after the Allied evacuation, the distribution of barbed wire aligns almost perfectly with the instance of barbed wire recorded in 1916 (Plate 13.4). This suggests that there has been little disturbance to parts of the front lines.

Bricks also provide interesting material evidence, often stamped with Greek or Ottoman letters indicating their production house in Madytos (Eceabat) or Çanakkale. The complex networks of trenches which developed at Gallipoli are substantial feats of engineering which integrated wood and metal supports. In addition to these materials, the Turkish army used bricks to reinforce their earthworks. When the survey results are plotted against war-era maps of the trench lines, it is clear that the bricks are located solely along Turkish defensive lines. This strategy and material is absent from the Anzac trench systems and therefore highlights both a different battlefield practice of the Turks and the different accessibility of resources between the coastal positions of the Allies and the Ottoman Army positions, with an expanse of productive country behind them. The pre-1915 bricks found on the battlefield vary in form and origin, suggesting that they were repurposed from local supplies or produced in numerous batches, rather than produced specifically for the reinforcement of trench lines.

In areas of unstable ground in the southern section of the Anzac Area, particularly along Holly Ridge and Knife Edge, we found evidence of substantial walls and buttresses. A photograph published in Charles Bean’s The Story of Anzac shows a brick wall up to 12 courses high along parts of Knife Edge (see AWM collections G02095), and it is likely the bricks we located were part of this structure. The location of the bricks in roughly the position they were recorded in 1919 suggests that the structures of the battlefield are well preserved in this area. On Holly Ridge there has been considerable erosion of the Turkish front line trenches by water flowing down a modern fire trail, but the bricks used to support the trench remain and reveal the trench line despite the substantial erosion of the earthworks. This is encouraging as it indicates that the pattern of particular types of surface artefacts on the battlefield can be used to detect features in areas where the earthworks have eroded.

The instance of food and drink containers from the war era, mainly found in trenches, dugouts and in areas which correlate with no-man’s land on historical maps, remind us of the daily experiences of living in this landscape. The artefacts relating to food and drink on either side of the lines provide information about the types of food eaten, where this took place and where rubbish was disposed of. The coastal (Anzac) side of the battlefield and noman’s land revealed higher numbers of food tins and ceramic SRD jars, whereas the Turkish trenches revealed two cooking stones, a brick oven and numerous glass bottle shards. On the Anzac side, the decreasing appetite for the pre-packaged food eaten by the troops is recorded by Bean and expressed in colourful terms in several soldiers’ war diaries. After months of canned corned beef, hard biscuits and tea, we read of soldiers making porridge from the biscuits or a stew of bully beef and biscuit in attempts to make the food palatable. By December, Lieutenant Ronald McInnis wrote, ‘It will be a treat to get my Christmas parcel from home – it would be hard for anyone away from here to imagine the intensity of our feelings regarding anything to eat’.39

The remains of the detested bully beef tins, distinctive rectangular tins with rounded edges, are the most common metal container found by the survey, followed by circular tins. It must be remembered that materials were in short supply on the Anzac lines and containers such as jam tins and jars were often repurposed as makeshift grenades (‘jam tin bombs’, see also AWM G00267),40 which might make their presence in the trenches and dugouts less likely. In contrast to the Anzac rations, historical sources indicate that Turkish soldiers were served cooked meals of vegetables, beans, chickpeas and lentils, and each soldier had an allowance of fresh meat.41 The archaeological record of cooking facilities and the lack of tins from pre-packaged foods generally supports this description of a higher instance of fresh produce. It does not follow that the Turkish soldiers were without hardships but the distribution of food and drink containers provides an interesting point of difference between the archaeological record within Ottoman and Allied areas.

Water was also scarce on the Allied lines. Each soldier was issued with a standard Pattern 1903 Mark VI royal blue canteen, of which the JHAS found four. But many different containers were used for the transport and storage of water, from the large water tanks still visible at The Nek to empty kerosene tins and ceramic SRD jars (see AWM A01818). Thus the finds of ceramic SRD jars, which originally held rum rations, or bottle glass from various breweries and juice producers, such as Bomonti and Nectar in Constantinople,42 may also be indicative of water storage and reuse of vessels. SRD fragments are found almost exclusively in Allied activity areas whereas bottle glass is common in Ottoman lines. These artefacts still present on the surface, though weathered or fragmentary, provide different and arguably more valuable information than the many hundreds of war-era ‘relics’ removed from the battlefield for museum display. When interpretation of the artefacts is able to be made with the benefit of their archaeological context these finds inform us on the integrity of the battlefield and enhance interpretations of daily life during the 1915 conflict.

The JHAS has pieced together the remaining record of some important sectors of the battlefield earthworks, including sections of the front lines, communication trenches, dugouts and support areas, including Malone’s Terraces and the Maori Pah. The visible earthworks are recorded in three dimensions, meaning that we can quantify their length, width and depth. We can add a fourth dimension to the landscape by examining the record that was mapped in this same area in 1916. We can also go back further and consider the record as it was being created by referring to aerial photographs produced in October 1915. Comparing the length of trenches and tunnels recorded in 1915 and 1916 with the record of the survey made in 2010-14 allows us to quantify the preservation of the battlefield earthworks. For example, in a 100 metre square immediately south of the Lone Pine memorial 36% of the original trench lines recorded in 1916 remained in 2014. The results vary according to the slope and soils of the battlefield, but we can confidently say that the Anzac Area presents one of the best preserved WWI battlefield landscapes in the world.

On the Western Front, the record of the First World War was variously destroyed, modified or symbolically buried beneath newer layers from the Second World War.43 This was not the experience at Gallipoli; several concrete bunkers were installed along the coastline during the 1940s but no entrenched warfare took place on the peninsula again. For this reason, the First World War features at Gallipoli are in a unique state of preservation, disturbed only by commemorative structures, memorials, cemeteries and the infrastructure of the Park. The relationship between these commemorative features and the battlefield beneath is complex. Several parts of the Anzac Area were substantially modified in the 1920s in order to create monuments such as Lone Pine, and modification of the landscape has continued with sites such as the 57th Infantry Regiment Memorial (est. 1992) and the Anzac Commemorative Site (est. 2000). Landscapes of conflict exist in the present and change in appearance and interpretation is part of the human legacy of sites of conflict. Just as the war-era earthworks intersect with Roman remains at Lone Pine, the commemorative structures overlay and intersect with the battlefield features excavated by those who they memorialise.

The battlefields of Gallipoli are cultural artefacts, subject to changing social attitudes and actions toward war and memory. Through the destructive process of industrialised warfare, new landscapes steeped in new meanings were created at Gallipoli. The incision of trenches and tunnels revealed evidence of earlier layers of human history, engaging the soldiers during the war and informing us in the aftermath. The landscapes of Gallipoli – beautiful, dramatic, multi-vocal and always contested – present us with a palimpsest of human history, conflict and material remains.

Academic and public interest in the legacy of the Great War conflict is reaching new heights in the centenary years of the conflict. Whilst the Western Front saw much higher casualties than the Gallipoli campaign, the conflict over the Peninsula holds a unique position in the national histories of Turkey, Australia and New Zealand. The military history of the Gallipoli campaign has generated abundant literature, but until recently we knew very little about the archaeological record of the Gallipoli battlefields. There is a considerable archaeological record in this strategic and contested landscape. In several cases the more ancient remains have literally been buried by commemorative features for more recent conflict, including the Lone Pine memorial which sits on ground once occupied by a Roman camp and the Abide monument which overlays the ancient Greek city of Elaious. Over these more ancient and elusive remains, the expansive network of trenches, tunnels and terraces conspicuously changed the landscape of the peninsula and, to a large extent, remains to be seen today. Together with the record of smaller artefacts across the battlefield this archaeological assemblage provides context for our understanding of behaviour and daily life in the Anzac area. Where other First World War sites were reclaimed for settlement and agriculture after the war, Gallipoli, and specifically the Anzac Area, was reserved, resulting in a uniquely well-preserved landscape from the first global, industrialised conflict.


1 Centre for Ancient Cultures, Monash University. Many people and institutions contributed to the broader project to which this paper relates. My thanks firstly go to my colleagues from Turkey, Australia and New Zealand on the Joint Historical and Archaeological Survey of the Gallipoli battlefields (JHAS), especially the project director Mithat Atabay and field director Antonio Sagona. I am indebted to the Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs who funded the JHAS fieldwork and to the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, New Zealand, for their support for the project. Thanks are owed to the Turkish authorities in Ankara, including the T. C. Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı and the T. C. Çevre ve Orman Bakanlığı, for granting permission to work on the Gallipoli battlefields. I am grateful to representatives from the Australian Embassy in Ankara and the Australian Consulate in Çanakkale for their interest and assistance throughout the project, and thank Monash University, La Trobe University and The University of Melbourne for their support of this research project.

2 Antonio Sagona, Mithat Atabay, Chris Mackie, Ian McGibbon and Richard Reid (eds.), Anzac Battlefield: Gallipoli landscape of war and memory (Australia: Cambridge University Press, 2016); Antonio Sagona, Mithat Atabay, Richard Reid, Ian McGibbon, Chris Mackie, Muhammet Erat and Jessie Birkett-Rees, ‘The ANZAC (Arıburnu) Battlefield: new perspectives and methodologies in history and archaeology’, Australian Historical Studies 42 (2011): 313–337.

3 Wendy Ashmore and A. Bernard Knapp (eds.), Archaeologies of Landscape: Contemporary Perspectives (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999); Barbara Bender, Landscape: Politics and Perspectives (Providence: Berg, 1993); James McGlade, ‘Archaeology and the evolution of cultural landscapes: towards an interdisciplinary research agenda’, in The Archaeology and Anthropology of Landscape: shaping your landscape, ed. Peter J. Ucko and R. Layton (London and New York: Routledge, 1999), 458–82; Nicholas Saunders, ‘Anthropology and archaeology of the First World War’, Revista Cadernos do Ceom 26, no. 38 (2013): 17–31; Peter J. Ucko (ed.), The Archaeology and Anthropology of Landscape: Shaping Your Landscape (London and New York: Routledge, 1999).

4 Nicholas Saunders, ‘Excavating memories: archaeology and the Great War, 1914 – 2001’, Antiquity 76 (2002): 101–108.

5 Martin Van Creveld, Technology and War: from 2000 BC to the Present (New York: The Free Press, 1989).

6 Douglas D. Scott and Andrew P. McFeaters, ‘The archaeology of historic battlefields: a history and theoretical development in conflict archaeology’, Journal of Archaeological Research 19 (2011): 103–32.

7 Jessie Birkett-Rees, ‘Geospatial Science and the archaeology of the First World War: context for conflict’, Proceedings of the Geospatial Science Research Symposium GSR2, (Melbourne: RMIT University, 2012); Jessie Birkett-Rees, ‘Capturing the Battlefield: the story of mapping and air photography at Gallipoli, in Anzac Battlefield: a Gallipoli landscape of war and memory, ed. A. Sagona et al (Australia: Cambridge University Press, 2016), 59–82; Mark D. McCoy and Thegn N. Ladefoged, ‘New developments in the use of spatial technology in archaeology’, Journal of Archaeological Research 17 (2009): 263–95; Birger Stichelbaut, Jean Bourgeois, Nicholas Saunders and Piet Chielens (eds.), Images of Conflict: Military Aerial Photography and Archaeology ( Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).

8 John Laffin, Battlefield Archaeology (London: Allan, 1987).

9 Nicholas Saunders, 2002.

10 Yves Desfossés, Alain Jacques and Gilles Prilaux, L’archeologie de la Grande Guerre (Rennes: Editions Ouest-France, 2008); Nicholas Saunders, 2002; Nicholas Saunders, Killing Time: Archaeology and the First World War ( Stroud, UK: The History Press, 2011); John Schofield, Combat Archaeology: Material Culture and Modern Conflict (London: Duckworth, 2005); John Schofield, Axel Klausneier and Louise Purbrick (eds.), Re-mapping the Field: new approaches in conflict archaeology ( Berlin: Werlag, 2006).

11 Douglas D. Scott and Andrew P. McFeaters, 2011.

12 Charles Bean, Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918, volume 2, ‘The Story of ANZAC from 4 May, 1915, to the evacuation of the Gallipoli Peninsula’, 11th edition (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1941).

13 Charles Bean, Gallipoli Mission ( Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1948).

14 Bean 1948, 47.

15 Bean 1948, 325.

16 General Sir J. Monash, Typed War letters of General Monash, vol. 1, 24 December 1914 – 4 March 1917 (Australian War Memorial collections AWM 3DRL/2316, 1915), 133.

17 Cyril Lawrence, The Gallipoli Diary of Sergeant Lawrence of the Australian Engineers, ed. R. East (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1981), 68.

18 Oliver Millman, ‘Gallipoli bushfire threat: historian says peninsula is at risk of damaging blaze’, The Guardian (Monday 6 October 2014, viewed 21 March 2016).

19 Antonio Sagona and Jessie Birkett-Rees, ‘Battlefield archaeology: Gallipoli’, pp. 83–97 in Anzac Battlefield: a Gallipoli landscape of war and memory, ed. A. Sagona et al (Australia: Cambridge University Press, 2016), 92.

20 General Sir J. Monash 1915.

21 Richard Reid, Gallipoli 1915 (Sydney: ABC Books for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2002), 117.

22 The Shrine of Remembrance, Shrine of Remembrance Education Program: Background Information, viewed 21 March 2016.

23 Ken Inglis, Sacred Places: War Memorials in the Australian Landscape (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2008), 86; Chaplain William Dexter, ‘Diary’, 16 December 1915, Australian War Memorial collections, PR00248.

24 Heaton Rhodes to James Allen, 29 May 1916, and reply dated 14 Jun 1916, Army Department records (AD)1, 65/65, ANZ.

25 Christopher Mackie, ‘Long Read: Gallipoli, the beautiful city’, The Conversation 1 August 2014, viewed 21 March 2016,

26 Cyril Lawrence, 1981.

27 John G. Gillam, Gallipoli Diary, (London: Allen and Unwin, 1918, 1989).

28 Chris Mackie, 2014.

29 Mehmet Özdoğan, ‘Prehistoric Sites in the Gelibolu Peninsula’, Anadolu Araştırmaları 10 (1986): 54–58.

30 Onur Özbek, ‘Sea level changes and prehistoric sites on the coasts of Southern Turkish Thrace, 12,000–6000 BP’, Quaternary International 261 (2012): 162-175; Mehmet Özdoğan, 1986.

31 Chris Mackie, ‘Archaeology at Gallipoli in 1915’, in Philathenaios. Studies in Honour of Michael J. Osborne, ed. Anastasios Tamis, Chris Mackie, and Sean G. Byrne (2010), 213–25.

32 Nicholas Saunders, 2002.

33 Peter Londey, ‘A Possession for Ever: Charles Bean, the Ancient Greeks, and Military Commemoration in Australia’, Australian Journal of Politics and History 53, no. 3 (2007): 344–59; Chris Mackie, 2010; Sarah Midford, ‘Constructing the ‘Australian Iliad’: ancient heroes and Anzac diggers in the Dardanelles’, Melbourne Historical Journal 2 (2011): 59–79.

34 Fernand Courby, Joseph Chamonard and Edouard Dhorme, ‘Corps expéditionnaire d’Orient. Fouilles archéologiques sur l’emplacement de la nécropole d’Éléonte de Thrace’, Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 39, no. 1 (1915): 135–240; David Gill, ‘Excavating Under Gunfire: Archaeologists in the Aegean during the First World War’, Public Archaeology 10, no. 4 (2011): 187–199; C. A. Hutton, ‘Two Sepulchral Inscriptions from Suvla Bay’, The Annual of the British School at Athens 21 (1914/1916,): 166–168; Edmond Pottier, ‘Fouilles archéologiques sur l’emplacement de la nécropole d’Éléonte, en Thrace. Note sur le rapport présenté au nom de l’État-major du corps expéditionnaire d’Orient à l’Académie des Inscriptions’, Comptes rendus de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres 60 (1916): 40–47.

35 Cyril Lawrence 1989, 33.

36 Chris Gaffney, ‘Detecting trends in the prediction of the buried past: A review of geophysical techniques in archaeology’, Archaeometry, 50, no. 2 (2008): 313–336; McCoy and Ladefoged, 2009.

37 Antonio Sagona et al, 2011; Antonio Sagona and Jessie Birkett-Rees, 2016.

38 Antonio Sagona, Jessie Birkett-Rees, Michelle Negus Cleary, Simon Harrington, Mithat Atabay, Reyhan Körpe and Muhammet Erat, ‘Artefacts from the Battlefield’, in Anzac Battlefield: a Gallipoli landscape of war and memory, ed. A. Sagona et al (Australia: Cambridge University Press, 2016), 159–191.

39 Ronald A. McInnis, War diary of Ronald McInnis (Australian War Memorial collections, AWM PRO097, 1915), entry 4 December 1915.

40 Ronald J. Austin,Gallipoli: Encyclopedia of the Dardanelles Campaign, (Victoria: Slouch Hat Publications, 2005).

41 Antonio Sagona et al, ‘Artefacts from the Battlefield’, 2016.

42 E. Eren, ‘Bira İmalathanelerinden Bira Fabrikalarına – Bomonti ve Olimpos,’ Toplumsal Tarih 144 (2005): 84–93.

43 Nicholas Saunders, 2002.

Beyond Gallipoli: New Perspectives on Anzac

   by Raelene Frances and Bruce Scates