Photographic archive of excavations at Bet Khallaf and Mahasna

Scope and Content

Images created during John Garstang's expedition of 1900-1901 for the Egypt Exploration Fund, including negatives created during the excavation of the mastaba tombs near Bet Khallaf (site K), (JG/F/1); a prehistoric cemetery near Alawniyeh (site L), (G/F/2); thenecropolis near El Mahsna (site M), (JG/F/3); the prehistoric settlement near El Mahasna, (Site M S) (JG/F/4); and images from unidentified sites (JG/F/5). The majority of the image depict objects discovered on the site and there are very few images of the actual excavation work.

Administrative / Biographical History

During the 1900-1901 excavation season in Egypt, John Garstang examined sites north of Abydos for the Egyptian Research Account, covering the land between the villages of Alawniyeh and Bet Khallaf (Bayt Khallāf), including the modern settlements of El Mahasna (Al Maḩāsinah); Bet Allam; Maslahet Harum; Bet; and Ilg. The expedition camp was based near the walled village of Maslahet-Harun, south of El Mahasna. Between the villages of Alawniyeh and Bet Allam they discovered traces of a prehistoric cemetery (site L) which had almost been completely plundered. Between Maslahet Harum and El Mahasna they excavated the site of a prehistoric settlement (site M S) and a necropolis dating from the 4th-11th Dynasty (site M). They also examined a nearby site (site N) containing burials dating from the same period.

By the end of January 1901, it was decided to investigate a large brick structures standing in the desert near the village of Bet Khallaf (site K), which Garstang discovered to be the site several mastaba tombs dating from the 3rdDynasty. Based upon a seal impression discovered in tomb K1 inscribed with the name ofking Neter-khet (Netjerkhet or Djoser), Garstang believed the tomb was the burial place of the king (though he was and is believed to be buried in the step pyramid in the Saqqara necropolis, Egypt). Another inscription discovered in tomb K2, lead Garstang to the assumption that it was the tomb of Hen-nekht/Sa-nekht (tomb K2), thought to be the predecessor of Neterkhet. Garstang also discovered smaller tombs at the site which he believed to be the tombs of servants of Neter-Khet.


These images were formerly held in three separate collections labelled F, O and P. Collection 'F' called 'Bet Khallaf, Mahasna and Reqaqnah' actually appear to contain negatives which formerly belong in the Reqaqnah, Bet Khallaf and Mahasna collections so these images were integrated into the appropriate series. Images from Bet Khallaf were labelled as 'O' and images from El Mahasna and Alawniyeh were labelled 'P'. Many of the negative originally listed have since been lost, but have been given reference number in case they are found in the future.

Access Information

Due to the fragility of the film and glass negatives, they can only be physically accessed in exceptional circumstances with permission of the Curator.

Archivist's Note

This collection was catalogued in November 2015 as part of the Pilgrim Trust Funded 'Focus of Egypt' Project.Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000. The collection was indexed by personal name using the National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997. The collection was indexed by place name using data from the GeoNames geographical database which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Conditions Governing Use

It is believed that the majority of the negatives were created by John Garstang or an unnamed worker on the site. Therefore it can be assumed that the actual images are in copyright until 70 years after the death of Garstang in 2026.

Custodial History

It is not clear how the Museum acquired the negatives as Garstang's excavated the site before he joined the University of Liverpool. Old hand-list show that the collection once contained images of the excavation sites published by Garstang, but have since been lost.

Related Material

Some prints created from the missing negatives in the collection (especially tombs K1 and K2) can be found in the Reqaqnah photographic collection (see JG/R).


Many of the images were published in: Garstang, (1903), Mahasna and Bet Khallaf, Egyptian Research Account, Vol. 7, (Quaritch, London).