Folding Cubit Rod of the architect Kha

The cubit rod of Kha folds in half with a simple bronze hinge at the center; there are absolutely no inscriptions. When Ernesto Schiaparelli discovered the rod, it was folded inside a leather bag with a strap. This extremely rare folding cubit rod was loved by Kha, who was the overseer of works in Deir el-Medina and its related sites, where it was in practical use.

The single scale is on the front surface. This rod is in sharp contrast with undecorated specimen, both from Kha, and both found in his funerary chamber. The contrast provides some insight into the differences between daily life and religious observations. Another folding wood rod, found in its original leather case.

Folding Cubit Rod of the architect Kha
Folding Cubit Rod of the architect Kha

The Egyptian museum of Turin (Museo Egizio) has four cubit rods, two of which were found in the tomb of the royal architect Kha . One of these folds in half, making it more portable for practical use. The other is covered in gold-leaf and was given to Kha in appreciation by king Amenhotep II.

An ornamental wood rod overlaid with gold from the funerary chamber of Kha and presented to him by Amenhotep II, in honor of his work. It is decorated with dedication hieroglyphs on the two ends and on four surfaces, including the bevel face, the top, back, and bottom.

Royal Cubit Rod Donated by Amenhotep II
Royal Cubit Rod Donated by Amenhotep II

The wooden cubit, covered in gold leaf with a relief decoration, shows the coronation name of Amenhotep II and mentions some of the great military achievements of this king. The cubit (from cubitum, the Latin term for “forearm”) is a ruler that is usually divided into various units (finger, palm, fist, etc.); it corresponds to the length of the forearm from the elbow to the middle fingertip plus the length of a palm (about 52.5 cm) and was the standard unit of measurement in ancient Egypt.

New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reigns of Amenhotep II, Thutmose IV and Amenhotep III, ca. 1425-1353 BC. Wood and vegetable fibers. From the Tomb of Kha (TT8), Deir el-Medina, West Thebes. Schiaparelli excavations, 1906. Now in the Egyptian Museum of Turin. S. 8391