Local information/Units of measurement

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Wikitravel Press has created the official Wikimania 2008 travel guide to Cairo and Alexandria. The guide is licensed under Creative Commons by-sa 1.0, and it's available for your reading and editing pleasure at the Wikitravel website:

Alexandria - Cairo (including the Pyramids) - Egypt reference - Egyptian Arabic phrasebook

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Units of measurement

Measurement was among one of the first intellectual achievements of early humans. People learned to measure centuries before they learned how to write and it was through measurement that people learned to count

The Ancient Egyptian unit of linear measurement was known as the Royal Cubit, was maintained as 523.5mm (20.61 inches) in length, and was subdivided into 7 palms of 4 digits each, giving 28 digits. This measurement standard was used from at least 2,700 B.C. Many examples of actual cubit rules have survived, and some of these are elaborate ceremonial rules that were preserved in the temples. Very little of the Egyptian system of measurement was based on the Mesopotamian. The second Egyptian method of creating units was unique in history. Aspects of the first Egyptian system in its turn formed the basis of the later Greek and Roman systems while those in turn influenced later European systems, though neither the Greeks nor Romans copied the second Egyptian system as practiced by Ahmes and other scribes

Some of the Ancient Egyptian's unit measurements

Egyptian measurements are systematic to this standard but on actual measuring rods and artifacts may vary about one millimeter per cubit.


  • 1 finger, db = 18¾ mm
  • 1 palm, šsp = 4 db = 75 mm
  • 1 hand, drt = 5 db = 93¾ mm
  • 1 fist, amm = 6 db = 112½ mm
  • 1 span, spd = 12 db = 225 mm
  • 1 foot, bw = 16 db = 300 mm
  • 1 remen, rmn = 20 db = 375 mm
  • 1 ordinary cubit, mh = 6 šsp = 450 mm
  • 1 royal cubit, mh = 7 šsp = 525 mm
  • 1 nibw = 8 šsp = 600 mm
  • 1 double remen = 2 rmn = 750 mm
  • 1 rod, h3yt = 10 mh (royal) = 5.25 m
  • 1 ht, ht n nhw = 10 h3yt = 52.5 m
  • 1 minute of march = 350 mh (royal) = 183.75 m
  • 1 hour of march, atur, itrw = 21,000 mh (royal) ≈ 11 km

Measurment now in Egypt

The Intenational System of measuring is widely used now in Egypt: