Garstang Beit Khallaf
 John Garstang  1876-1956

The English archaeologist John Garstang (1876-1956) was a young man of 25 when he was appointed leader of the excavations in the Beit Khallaf area in 1900. With a crew of local workers he dug in se-veral places for two seasons and published the results in 1903.
The vicinity around an interesting old structure upon a low desert plateau in the flood plain had been forbidden area for local inha-bitants for religious (superstitious) reasons, probably since the end of Roman times. It was thus more or less undisturbed since 1 600 years back and nobody, including scholars of the new science of Egyptology, knew what this box-shaped partly ruined formation could be. Different suggestions told about a Roman fortress, a royal castle or possibly an Egyptian temple of unknown age.
From the looks it did not resemble any known type of architectural design but shortly after the start of the investigation it became clear to the scolars - this was a mastaba tomb of gigantic proportions and its age was soon to be revealed.
In Garstang's book describing the result of his work, the text is very short by modern standards and not more than an article in length, but in another aspect he was well ahead of most of his colleagues at the time - the use of a camera for documentation.
Thus we have dozens of photographs of various kinds of offering vessels, bowls, implements etc. as well as outdoor shots from the work within the structure, and distant views from different directions and angles. Unfortunately there are no pictures published (and probably none taken) from inside the superstructure with its rooms with offerings including the grave chamber where some broken bones from a man was found on the floor. Nor do we today have any pictures from within the stairway where hundreds of well preserved stone- and ceramic jars were found when going down through the hard stone gravel upon which the whole structure is founded.
To make access through this passage the workers had to use crowbars and chisels because it was sealed with a hard masonry of stones with nile-mud as mortar. In Garstang's sketch from the tomb's plan, the outer walls are two meter thick brickwork holding the inner filling of stones and sand. This is a somewhat bewildering description because most of the building is solid, except around the shafts where large stones were sunk down into the stairway to prevent grave robbers from entering. They did so anyhow and Roman amphora vessels left among the debris told Garstang that he wasn't the first one to "investigate" the site. Notably the entrance was sealed once again after this intrusion. Though some names were revealed through the finds, the owner’s name is still (in year 2007) not known to Egyptologists and a hard nut to crack.