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The Pharaoh Thutmosis IV

The king

Eighth king of the 18th Dynasty, Thutmosis IV had a short reign, of about 9 years (approx. 1419-1410 B.C.). He inherited a country of which his two predecessors, his grandfather Thutmosis III and his father Amenhotep II had made a vast soundly controlled empire. The king will break with this warlike tradition while preferring a diplomatic policy of alliance. Thus he will marry a Mitanienne princess and found a period of peace with this ancient enemy of Egypt by this marriage.
The king seems to have been more concerned than his predecessors in the question of religion and in particular the relationship between royalty and the solar divinity. It is also thought that he could be a precursor of the renewal of the solar theology which his successors Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV (Akhenaton) would later developed. This wouldn't stop him from being an enthusiastic zealot of Amon, for example, the construction of a columned court in the temple of Karnak.
A stylistic change reveals modifications resulting from this new frame of mind.

The King's mummy (view).
This was moved of his tomb in the 21st Dynasty to be transported, with others, in the tomb of Amenhotep II, in order to protect it from the pillagers.
Studied by Elliot Smith, it is described as that of a young man of 1.64m., closely shaven and a little effeminate. The extreme emaciation of the body, more than that which would have been produced by embalming alone, suggests the possibility of the illness cachexia. The king indeed died young, probably between 20 and 30 years old, without obvious traces of injury.

The narration of the discovery of the tomb KV 43
by Howard Carter (extract)

In January 1903, work had reached the base of the hill, where there were distinct signs of human working and eventually the opening of a tomb was found. Here, in the debris, many fragments of antiquities were discovered and, among others, the end of a wooden axe-handle, bearing the name of Thutmosis IV [].
On the 18th January, 1903, the entry of the tomb was sufficiently cleared to permit entry. After having removed the remaining rubble, we found it had been closed with roughly-cut stones.
We then entered, accompanied by the head Reis, finding a passage partially filled with rubble and strewn with broken antiquities. It immediately indicated to us that the tomb had been robbed in antiquity. After having descended for about thirty metres on the rubble, we found ourselves over a gaping well, obstructing further progress.
Here, we were

view 19

obliged to wait a while for our eyes to become accustomed to the dim light of our candles before could see to the further side or the bottom.
Gradually there loomed before us the opposite wall, in which an opening had been made, and, on finding that the well was very deep, we sent to for ladders and ropes. Looking around us we saw that the upper part of the walls of this well had been decorated with scenes in which the cartouche of Thutmosis IV figured prominently. Finally, we had the final evidence of the true ownership of the tomb.
Ropes and ladders having be procured, we descended with difficulty down one side of the well and ascended the other (the well having but a little rubble in it), and succeeded then in entering through the hole into a rectangular hall with two pillars. Fastened to the nearest column to this opening was an ancient cable rope made from palm fibre, knotted at intervals, and with its end hanging down and reaching the bottom of the well. Here was further evidence of pillagers. This chamber was practically clean and only contained a few antiques, save some unimportant pieces and an inscribed paddle of a boat.
In the left-hand corner of this chamber we found a staircase leading into a sloping passage about twenty metres in length, which gave access to a small square chamber. This passage was partially filled of rubble, which made our descent difficult, stones rolling down with every step.

The chamber was found to be decorated with similar scenes to those of the well, with the addition of two hieratic inscriptions on the right-hand wall. Here again, was a large mass of debris. In the far corner of the left-hand side we found a doorway, partially blocked with stones which had been covered with plaster and sealed. Here there was evidence of double sealing, there being two distinct seal impressions: one, the original, showing a jackal above nine prisoners, the other evidently later, because of a different plaster and giving the cartouche of king Horemheb.

Entering through this doorway, we found ourselves in a long-shaped pillared hall, the floor of which was covered with rubble and strewn with antiquities. At the inner end, between the last two columns, we found a short flight of steps leading to the sarcophagus, which was fully inscribed with texts and the king's name.

chariot 1

chariot 2
Its lid, which lay beside it, was supported by slabs of stone under three corners, while under the fourth was a beautifully-modelled wooden cow's head.
On looking into the sarcophagus we found it to be empty, save for two wooden figures, cast in by the ancient plunderers. Ascending the steps between the two last left-hand columns, the body of a magnificent chariot loomed before us, and beside it the gauntlet of the king.

On either side of this hall were two chambers, which we entered and examined in turn.
The first of these (see plan, D) we found to contain a mass of broken blue-glazed faience vases and the figures of exquisite colour, and in the right-hand corner, resting in an erect position against the wall, was a denuded mummy of a boy, whose stomach and rib cage had been ripped open by the ancient plunderers with a very sharp knife.
The second chamber (see plan, C) proved to contain fragments of broken jars, with their seals, and great quantities of grain reduced to chaff.
In the Third chamber (see plan, B) there was a great mass of mummified meat joints and geese specially prepared for the use of the king's ka.
The fourth chamber (see plan, A) was empty, save for a mass of mummy linen-bindings, which had probably belonged to the small mummy found in the first chamber, and this was, perhaps, the place where the plunderers had unrolled it.
All these chambers had originally been closed and sealed, but in no case was a door or stone left in place.

The whole tomb was itself in an unfinished state, the objects therein being scattered about all over the floors, and there were remains on stones of oil wicks left by the ancient violators.
After reporting all these facts concerning the discovery and the state of the tomb, on the 3rd February, 1903 Mr Theodore Davis, accompanied by Mr Masperos and friends, officially opened it, and made a thorough inspection.
It then became my duty to make an inventory of its contents and to ensure its safety: in this work, Mr Percy E. Newberry lent me his valuable assistance.

It is interesting to note that, amongst the antiquities found in the rubble outside the tomb, there was a small wooden cartouche bearing the name of Thutmosis I, and a scarab-seal of Queen Hatshepsut.
In the foundation deposits, occurred an alabaster saucer, bearing the name of Queen Hatshepsut, usurped by Thutmosis IV, and inside the tomb were fragments of usurped alabaster vases of Thutmosis III and Amenhotep II. Besides these, there was also a fine piece of a garment of Amenhotep II in woven tapestry, richly ornamented.

Description of the tomb

Thanks to Christian Mariais
for his photographs
At the entrance of the hypogeum, uninscribed, has been carved into the limestone cliff which forms part the valley of the kings. In front of the entrance, is a small natural platform where two foundation deposits were found.


Service des antiquités
After a small flight of steps, a long sloping passageway is reached, interrupted by a staircase, which leads directly to the well chamber.
Wooden doors separated the different parts of the tomb, but they disappeared in antiquity.
The digging of this great tomb was attentive and seems to have been finished.
It is not the same with the decoration, and everything indicates the hurry with which the craftsmen had to proceed. Only two areas had been decorated, and again briefly. The scenes are nearly identical from one wall to the other, showing the king in front of various divinities, all on an ochre yellow base, of which here it is the first use in a royal burial. Thutmosis is usually represented wearing of the nemes headdress with the associated uraeus, and all divinities stretch out to him the ankh sign of life, towards his nose.
The death of a very young Pharaoh has, as it will be the case for Tutankhamun, forced them to confine themselves to the minimal representation considered as essential.


view 8

view 17
Of square section, it is nearly 8 metres deep. It represents one of the only two rooms of the tomb decorated.
The ceiling has a dark blue background, on to which was painted golden-yellow stars (view 8).

The painting of the actual walls is only complete on the left (east) wall, the rear (south) wall originally carried decoration, of which only that at the left-hand side of the door remains.
However, the top friezes of the walls were completed all round (view 8 and view 17)). At the very top of this is found a classic kheker frieze. This rests here on a line of coloured rectangles (or Egyptian frieze).
Under this is found, extended here from end to end of the wall, a thin blue hetep-sign (= sky), studded with a single row of stars.

On the east wall, from left to right, is found king Thutmosis IV facing, successively, various divinities, who stretch toward his nostrils the ankh-sign of life, with a short text to identify the divinity (view 17, view 3 and view CM61):
- in front of Osiris-Khentyamentiu (= Osiris who rules the Westerners which is to say the dead -) (view 12 and view CM58)
- in front of Osiris, Lord of Abydos view CM60.
- in front of Anubis, the Great God, Lord of the Sacred Land (view CM59 and view 2).
- in front of Hathor, Lady of the Western Desert (view 13).
- in front of Hathor, Mistress of the Western Desert (view 9).
- in front of Hathor, Lady of the Western Hill (view CM52).

On the rear (south) wall the decoration only covers the part of the wall left of the doorway, all that remains of the hasty decoration, completed immediately following the burial. It consists of a kheker frieze, an incomplete "hetep" sign, and an unfinished scene which includes Anubis (view CM57 and view CM61).


(view 15 and view 16)
Initially, its entry from the well chamber had been entirely blocked by a wall, carefully plastered and covered with grey paint to try to conceal this entry from the potential pillagers, which was of course wasted effort.
The room is small and low, and the roof in is supported by two square section columns arranged at the centre, along the axis of the area. It is completely uninscribed.

At the left part of this room, a very sloping staircase, carved into the floor, leads, by a corridor some metres in length, to a second rectangular shaped antechamber.


view 27

view CM63
The king
view CM64
With a rather low ceiling, this room possesses the well levelled walls. It is the second of the two decorated rooms of the tomb, after the well chamber.
The ceiling is here again decorated with yellow stars sprinkled on a dark blue base, simulating the night sky (view 27).

The left wall. (view CM63)
As in the well chamber, the top of the wall includes the kheker frieze, the Egyptian frieze and the long blue hetep-sign which runs from one extremity to the other, on which is represented a single row of stars. Underneath, a tableau including the divinities presenting the ankh-sign of life towards the king's nose which runs from left to the right again, with
- Osiris-Khentyamentiu
- Anubis, in the temple
- Hathor, Lady of the western desert (view CM55)
- Hathor, Mistress of the western desert (view 18)

Under these scenes, the lower part of the wall consists of two yellow bands separated a red band edged in black, finally the usual broad black skirting band down to floor level, see bottom of view CM63.

The rear wall (view CM64 and view 28):
This is decorated according to the same model as the others. Under the ceiling and friezes, an oblong panel displaying a symmetry from its central point, at which the king in front of a form of the goddess Hathor, which is also found at both extremities. This gives an alternation of a feminine divinity with two male divinities. All stretch out the ankh-sign towards his face.
Thutmosis is thus, from left to right, in front of:
- Hathor, Mistress of the western desert (view 26).
- Anubis on his hill (view CM67 and view 25).
- Hathor, Mistress of Thebes, Lady of the sky, Mistress of the Double Lands (view 23).
- Osiris-Khentyamentiu (view 31)
- Hathor, Mistress of Thebes, Lady of the sky, Mistress of the Double Lands (view 30). Notice that the goddess's head had been cut away then it was able to be put back in place.
Underneath the scenes is the same arrangement of of coloured bands.

The other walls of this room are not painted. However, on the right wall, are found two inscriptions of graffiti text, written in well formed large hieratic writing, with well aligned signs. They both relate to an inspection of the tomb made by an official in year 8 of Horemheb. Their presence shows that, already at that time, the tomb had been violated, and that it was a question of making the place sacred again.

The first graffiti :

First graffiti

(1) Year 8, third month of the summer season, under the Majesty of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt Djeser-kheperu-Ra, chosen of Ra; the son of Ra, Horemheb, beloved of Amon,
(2) His majesty, life, health, strength, ordered that the Carrier of the fan at the king's left, the royal scribe, the steward of the Treasury, the steward of works in the Place of Eternity (ie. the Valley of the Kings)
(3) The director of the festival of Amon of Opet in Karnak, Maya, son of the doctor (?) Auy, born of the mistress of the house, Uret,
(4) renewed the funeral of king Men-kheperu-Ra, just of voice, in his precious dwelling in Western Thebes.

The second graffiti :

Second graffiti

(1) his assistant, the Head of Thebes,
(2) Thutmosis son of Hatiay,
(3) his mother, Yuh, of the city.
At the rear of this room, on the left-hand wall, is the opening to the actual burial chamber, which lies on axis at a 90 angle to that of this room.


This is a vast room which occupies two different levels (view 38 and view 51).
The entry had initially been walled up, then, on the antechamber side, dressed of plaster on which had been affixed numerous seals of the necropolis (coloured blue in the depressions) representing the classic image of the squatting jackal above nine prisoners, hands bound behind their backs.
The high ceiling is supported by two rows of three square pillars, arranged along the axis of the room.
At the extremity of the first section of the chamber a small stairway with five steps, arranged between the last pair of columns, leads to the second section of the chamber situated at a lower level. In this section, about a third of the total chamber, is seated a magnificent sarcophagus.
The chamber is uninscribed.

Off the burial chamber are four small lateral annexe chambers (identified as A to D on the Newberry plan) (view 39). Two (A and D) are located left and right off the upper part of the chamber. The other two (B and C) are located left and right off the lower area.
The small mummy of the boy, of which Howard Carter speaks (see above) was deposited in side chamber B, with other human remains and the remains of rope left by the pillagers (view 48). This side chamber had been blocked up with the exception of a small opening,

The sarcophagus.

view 7

courtesy and
KMT and George Johnson
It is the residual jewel of the tomb.
It rests in a roughly cut cavity in the ground, covered with stones.
In red sandstone, it measures 3 x 1.60 x 2 metres. It has the shape of an oblong box with end rounded off approximately at the level of the head, while at the foot, the surface is plane. The lid is also rounded at head end and the top is curved.
The total external surface of the main base section has been decorated in incised hieroglyphs and figures and has been painted in yellow, white and black (view CM65, view CM56 and view CM66).

The head end of the sarcophagus
Here is found a horizontal inscription line and 18 vertical lines. They surround the central figure of Nephthys with raised arms and who wears on her head the hieroglyph of her name.

The right side of the box section
Here is found a horizontal line at the top and 25 vertical lines of text. Between the 5th and 6th, the 10th and 11th, the 15th and 16th, and between the 20th and 21st, exist the vertical bands containing one or several columns of hieroglyphs, and which continue the text situated above them on the lid. In the thus delimited rectangles, is found three representations of the king upright and walking and one of Anubis, all face towards the head of the sarcophagus.

The left side of the box section
Here is found precisely the same presentation as on the other side, both sides facing towards the head of the sarcophagus.

The foot end of the box section
Here is located a horizontal line of inscription associated with 14 vertical lines, framing a central image of Isis, arm raised, and located on her head the hieroglyph of her name.

The lid
This presents a central band of hieroglyphs from which leave 8 bands (4 each side) towards the main box section of the sarcophagus, where they continue vertically, as strips would have done around a mummy.


  • Carter Howard, Newberry Percy E, in Davies Theodore M: The tomb of Thoutmôsis  IV, London, 1904.
  • Moschetti Elio, Tosi  Mario: Thutmosi IV – Un sogno all'ombra della sfinge, Ananke Editrice, Torino, 2004
  • Bryan Betsy : The reign of Thutmose IV, Baltimore 1991
  • Bryan Betsy: Thutmose IV in The Oxford Encyclopaedia of Ancient Egypt, AUCP, 2001
  • Soliman Isabella, Johnson George B :Thutmose IV tomb, KMT, 5, 1, 1994

Original page created by Thierry Benderitter
Text by Thierry Benderitter
Photographs by Thierry Benderitter and Christian Mariais
© Copyright OsirisNet 2006