Near Beit Khallaf, spoken of many times before for its massive mastabas, El-Reqaqna was excavated at the turn of the 20th century by John Garstang. Garstang was convinced it was a major 3rd Dynasty cemetery, based largely on the circumstantial attribution of Beit Khallaf to Djoser and Sanakht, also excavated by Garstang, which El-Reqaqna included burials from the Old Kingdom to the 11th Dynasty. Interestingly, El-Reqaqna also has several large mastabas some of which were made in palace facade:
Compare to the Mastabas of Meidum, dated to the 4th Dynasty, which I argue are older, likely dating to the 2nd Dynasty.
In Garstang's day the 2nd and 3rd Dynasties were poorly understood, though in fairness it's not a whole lot better today, in which Garstang was heavily invested in the idea he had discovered a definitive 3rd Dynasty cemetery. Though he differentiated some of these tombs as "early 3rd Dynasty", and the site was even described to him before excavating that it was 2nd to 3rd Dynasty, from what I am looking at may have not fully understood that what he considered to be "early 3rd Dynasty was actually the 2nd Dynasty. I say this because the palace facade tombs are not typical of the 3rd Dynasty, these may be the only ones as far as I have found, yet they are right at home in the 2nd Dynasty. Also, Garstang found a large amount of fine stoneware that production becomes increasingly rare after Djoser though is quite common obviously in the 1st and 2nd Dynasties. While they may have recycled it from an earlier period, it is there in quantity nonetheless. We are reminded of the some 40,000 pieces of pottery found at the Step Pyramid of Saqqara which also largely dated to earlier Dynasties. Also of note is that while Djoser's (Neterikhet's) name if found in the cemetery there are also names of individuals known to have lived in the 2nd Dynasty which on balance we can infer that Garstang's assessment of an "early 3rd Dynasty" provenance may just as well be late 2nd Dynasty.
One thing of note is Garstang actually attributes two of the larger palace facade mastabas to the 4th and 5th Dynasties which I am certain is in error. The only mud brick mastabas of the OK with palace facade are the 2 at Meidum which if Garstang were right these would be highly unusual. Garstang bases this belief in that one has an architectural difference and the other has a stone door jamb (R70) and slab with inscriptions which, though it does not mention a pharaoh nor are there any OK artifacts found in either tomb, he only seems to think this because the writing is of a good quality which he suggests it may "probably" date the tomb itself which to him equates to the 5th Dynasty. It is clear the 4th Dynasty was there, but his reasoning for dating much of these tombs in general seems to me dubious compounded by the lack of understanding of the minutiae of the various early dynasties in his day. I suspect if modern investigators reevaluated this site we would come away with a different understanding, likely that this site dates to the 2nd Dynasty, if not earlier, and his attribution of these two large palace facade mastabas to the 4th and 5th Dynasty is unwarranted.
I still need to sort this out, but it is interesting that El-Reqaqna is rarely mentioned in literature of the early Dynastic period and those that do is in passing, often just the mention of the name. I highly recommend at the very least scrolling through and looking at the numerous pictures. Of note Garstang shows several examples of arches, a common feature of the 3rd Dynasty tombs at Beit Khallaf and El-Reqaqna.
Another early Dynastic Cemetery to sift through:
The Early Dynastic Mastabas of Naga ed-Deir
Right across the Nile from El-Reqaqna which early Dynastic palace facade mastabas are also found here.
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 27-Mar-19 01:55 by Thanos5150.