Royal cubit rod of Amenemope
This ruler corresponds to the main Egyptian linear unit of measure, the “royal cubit” (ca. 52.5 cm), and its subdivisions are marked on it. It bears two inscriptions. One is a eulogy of king Horemheb, the other an offering formula for the owner Amenemope who was Overseer of the Two Granaries.
Some inaccuracies in the measurements and their subdivisions suggest that this was exclusively a prestige object, not meant for actual use, but rather to celebrate the connection between the king and this powerful official, in charge of the grain supply of the State.
The main unit of measurement of length used in ancient Egypt is the distance between the elbow and the tip of the middle finger: the cubit. Being a simple and effective method of measurement it did not undergo significant variations for a very long time, remaining in use in Egypt for over 4000 years, spreading thanks to the Romans in Europe and until the contemporary age where the British imperial system still adopted terms such as “foot”, “span”, “arms”, “inches” and other measurements based on the body.
There were two measurements for the Egyptian cubit: the “small” cubit of 6 palms (about 45 cm) and the “regal” cubit of 7 palms (about 52.50 cm). The one in the photo is a “royal cubit”, with the measurements engraved in white. Some inaccuracies in the measurements and their subdivisions suggest that this was exclusively a prestige object, not meant for actual use.
New Kingdom, late 18th Dynasty, reign of Horemheb, ca. 1319-1292 BC. Wood, 52.5 x 4 x 2 cm. From Saqqara. Now in the Egyptian Museum of Turin. Cat. 6347