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Portrait of inner coffin of Kha

Portrait of the gilded inner coffin of Kha.©

Dynasty 18th Dynasty
Pharaoh(s) Amenhotep IIAmenhotep III
Titles Foreman in the Place of Truth
Overseer of the Works
Royal Scribe
Father Iuy
Spouse(s) Merit
Issue Amenemopet, Nakhteftaneb, Merit
Burial TT8

Kha (transliteration: ḫꜥ, "Appearing") was an ancient Egyptian Foreman in the Place of Truth of the Eighteenth Dynasty during the New Kingdom. His tomb was discovered entirely intact and is considered the "most abundant and complete non-royal burial assemblage ever found in Egypt".[1]


Kha's origins are unknown. His only attested parent is his father, Iuy, who bears no titles and about whom nothing is known.[2][3] Given his lack of hereditary titles, Kha is assumed to have attained his position through skill.[4] The Egyptologist Barbara Russo suggests that his mentor or tutor was a man named Neferhebef, who holds similar titles to Kha and whose name appears on items in Kha's tomb. Additionally, Neferhebef is depicted alongside his wife Taiunes in Kha's funerary chapel.[5] Evidently the two had a close relationship, sometimes suggested to be that of father and son,[6] although there no evidence they were related.[2]

Kha's wife Merit was interred with him in their tomb. She likely died before him and unexpectedly as she is buried in a coffin intended for her husband.[4] Three of their children are known; two sons named Amenemopet and Nakhteftaneb, and a daughter also named Merit.[4] Amenemopet also worked in Deir el-Medina and is titled "Servant in the Royal Necropolis". No titles are attested for Nakhteftaneb, but he seems to have maintained the funerary cult of his parents.[7] A third son named Userhat is sometimes attributed to them but his father is clearly identified as Sau, a scribe of grain-keeping. Their daughter Merit became a Chantress of Amun. All the children outlived their mother[4] but Amenemopet may have predeceased their father.[7]


Kha was the Overseer of the Works for the village of Deir el-Medina during the mid-Eighteenth Dynasty. Often referred to as an architect in modern publications, he supervised the workmen responsible for cutting and decorating royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings (known as "the Great Place").[8] Kha likely began his career during the reign of Amenhotep II.[9] Schiaparelli considered him to have been active in the reign of the preceding king, Thutmose III, based on the presence of seals bearing his name within the tomb[10] but this probably reflects the use of this king's name long after his reign.[11] Kha is generally thought to have been responsible for the design and cutting of the tombs of Amenhotep II, Thutmose IV, and Amenhotep III.[9] Russo proposes that Kha begun his career under the supervision of Neferhebef, who oversaw the construction of the tomb of Amenhotep II.[12] He attained the role of "Chief of the Great Place" (transliteration: ḥry m st ꜥꜣ(t)) during the reign of Thutmose IV and reached the peak of his career during the reign of Amenhotep III, when he was given the title of "Overseer of the Works in the Great Place" (transliteration: imy-r kꜣ(w)t m st ꜥꜣ(t)). Kha seems to have entered the bureaucracy at the end of his career based on his titles of "Royal Scribe" (transliteration: sš nsw.t) and an additional title, "Overseer of the Works of the Central Administration" (transliteration: imy-r kꜣ(w)t pr-ꜥꜣ).[13]

Kha enjoyed a successful career and received several royal gifts for his service. The first was a gilded cubit rod gifted by Amenhotep II, and he later obtained a bronze pan as a gift from Amenhotep III. His most significant award was a "gold of honor", although which ruler it was given by is debated. Thutmose IV or Amenhotep III are considered the most likely candidates based on the style of the jewelry.[14][15] He wears some of the jewelry obtained, such as signet rings and a collar made of gold disc beads around his neck beneath his mummy wrappings.[16][17] Preparations for his tomb likely began in the reign of Thutmose IV, as his name occurs most frequently as a seal on vessels.[18] Based on the style of his coffins and the juvenilizing art style seen on the painted funerary chests, Kha died in the reign of Amenhotep III, likely in his third decade of rule.[4][19] The period of his death can be further narrowed down to the last few years of Amenhotep's reign if, as Russo suggests, he is identical to the "Royal Scribe Kha" attested on jars from the palace complex of Malkata dating to the Sed jubilee festival in Year 35.[20]


Kha and his wife Merit are mainly known from their intact TT8 rock-cut tomb at the necropolis of Deir el-Medina, which forms part of the Theban Necropolis. The tomb was found intact during excavations conducted by the Italian Archaeological Mission headed by the Egyptologist Ernesto Schiaparelli in 1906.[21]


Kha's mummy remains unwrapped. He is estimated to have died in his 50s or 60s. Strangely, his internal organs were not removed, explaining the absence of canopic jars.[22]


  1. La Nasa et al. 2022, p. 1.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Russo 2012, p. 67.
  3. Töpfer 2019, p. 12.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Bianucci et al. 2015, p. 4.
  5. Russo 2012, p. 22, 77.
  6. Trapani 2015, p. 2221.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Russo 2012, p. 66.
  8. Reeves & Wilkinson 1996, p. 18.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Forbes 1998, p. 112.
  10. Schiaparelli 2008, p. 60.
  11. Trapani 2012, p. 167.
  12. Russo 2012, p. 73.
  13. Russo 2012, p. 67–69.
  14. Russo 2012, p. 23, 31.
  15. Binder 2008, p. 240.
  16. Russo 2012, p. 24, 31.
  17. Forbes 1998, p. 113.
  18. Trapani 2012, p. 167.
  19. Forbes 1998, p. 102.
  20. Russo 2012, p. 63, 78.
  21. Del Vesco & Poole 2018, p. 107.
  22. Bianucci et al. 2015, p. 3.


  • Bianucci, R./Habicht, M.E./Buckley, S./Fletcher, J./Seiler, R./Öhrström, L.M./Vassilika, E./Böni, T./Rühli, F. J., 2015: Shedding New Light on the 18th Dynasty Mummies of the Royal Architect Kha and His Spouse Merit. PLOS ONE. 10 (7).
  • Binder, S., 2008: The Gold of Honour in New Kingdom Egypt. Aris and Phillips, Oxford.
  • Forbes, D.C., 1998: Tombs. Treasures. Mummies : Seven great discoveries of Egyptian archaeology in five volumes. Book two, The tombs of Maiherpri (KV36) & Kha & Merit (TT8). (2015 Reprint ed.). Weaverville: Kmt Communications LLC.
  • Nasa, J. la/Degano, I./Modugno, F./Guerrini, C./Facchetti, F./Turina, V./Carretta, A./Greco, C./Ferraris, E./Colombini, M.P./Ribechini, E., 2022: Archaeology of the invisible: The scent of Kha and Merit. Journal of Archaeological Science, Vol. 141.
  • Reeves, N./Wilkinson, R.H., 1996: The Complete Valley of the Kings: Tombs and Treasures of Egypt's Greatest Pharaohs (2010 paperback ed.). Thames and Hudson, London.
  • Russo, B., 2012: Kha (TT 8) and his colleagues: the gifts in his funerary equipment and related artefacts from Western Thebes. Golden House Publications, London.
  • Schiaparelli, E., 2008 [1927]: La Tomba Intatta Dell'architetto Kha Nella Necropoli Di Tebe: The Intact Tomb of the Architect Kha in the Necropolis of Thebes (in Italian and English). Translated by Fisher, Barbara. AdArte, Turin.
  • Töpfer, S., 2019: Il Libro dei Morti di Kha. E-Book, Franco Cosimo Panini (in Italian). Turin: Museo Egizio.
  • Trapani, M., 2012: Behind the Mirror. Art and Prestige in Kha's Funerary Equipment. In: Kóthay, Katalin Anna (ed.). Art and Society. Ancient and Modern Contexts of Egyptian Art. Budapest: Museum of Fine Arts.
  • Trapani, M., 2015: Kha's Funerary Equipment at the Egyptian Museum in Turin: Resumption of the Archaeological Study. In: Kousoulis, P.; Lazaridis, N. (eds.). Proceedings of the Tenth International Congress of Egyptologists, University of the Aegean, Rhodes, 22–29 May 2008 (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 241) Volume II. Leuven: Peeters.
  • Vassilika, E., 2010: The Tomb of Kha: the architect. Fondazione Museo delle Antichità Egizie di Torino.
  • Vesco, P. del/Poole, F., 2018: Deir el-Medina in the Egyptian Museum of Turin. An Overview, and the Way Forward. In: Dorn, Andreas; Polis, Stéphane (eds.). Outside the Box: Selected papers from the conference "Deir el-Medina and the Theban Necropolis in Contact". Presses Universitaires de Liège.