Thutmose IV

negotiated alliances with Babylonia and with Mitanni

Thutmose IV was the eighth pharaoh of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty. He reigned for 10 years (1400–1390 BC). His grandpa Thutmose III and father Amenhotep II had left him a land in which his two forefathers, Thutmose III and Amenhotep II, had built a massive, well-controlled empire. The monarch will break with this warlike legacy in favour of an alliance-building diplomatic agenda. As a result, he will marry a Mitanian princess and thereby establish a time of peace with Egypt’s historic foe. The monarch appears to have been more interested about religion than his predecessors, especially the tie between royalty and the sun god. 

Thutmose IV

He is also regarded to have been a forerunner of the solar theology reformation that his successors Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten) would create later. This didn’t stop him from becoming an ardent Amon devotee, as evidenced by the erection of a columned court in Karnak’s temple.


Thutmose IV negotiated alliances with Babylonia and with Mitanni and married the daughter of Artatama, king of Mitanni.

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Thutmose IV's peristyle hall at Karnak
Thutmose IV

Construction projects

Against the rear or eastern walls of the main Karnak temple complex, Thutmose IV constructed a unique chapel and peristyle hall. The chapel was built with the intention of being used by persons “who were denied entry to the larger Karnak temple It was a ‘place of the ear’ for the deity Amun, where he could hear the townspeople’s pleas.” Thutmose IV’s tiny alabaster chapel and peristyle hall have been meticulously restored by French researchers from Karnak’s Centre Franco-Egyptien D’Étude des Temples de Karnak (CFEETK) mission.

Dream Stele of Thutmose IV

The Dream Stele

The Dream Stele is a 15-ton granite rectangular stele that is 3.6 metres (12 feet) tall and weighs 15 tonnes. It was once the rear wall of a modest open-air chapel erected between the paws of the Sphinx by Thutmose IV. During Giovanni Battista Caviglia’s clearing of the Sphinx in 1818, it was rediscovered. The stele is a repurposed door lintel from Khafre’s mortuary temple, since the pivot sockets on the rear of the stele match those on the temple’s threshold.
The lunette depicts Thutmose IV presenting sacrifices and libations to the Sphinx, which rests on a high pedestal with a door at the foot. This is most likely an artistic artifice to elevate the Sphinx over the king’s head and shoulders, but it has led to the concept that there is a temple or corridor beneath the Sphinx.

Dream Stele of Thutmose IV

The king, on the left and right, orientated towards the centre, is seen presenting an offering to the Sphinx in the upper section of the stela. The Sphinx is roughly the same size as the king for practical, aesthetic, and religious reasons. This meant that the Sphinx, which was far larger and taller than a human being in real life, had to be exhibited as if it were on a pedestal, with serekh, a recessed panelling design.
After a hunting journey in the desert, a young prince, the future Thutmosis IV, fell asleep under the shadow of the Great Sphinx, according to the writing below this offering scene.

The Dream Stela between the forelegs of the Great Sfinx at Giza

The deity Harmachis, who is said to have been symbolised by the Sphinx, appears to the young prince in his sleep and pledges to elevate him to the throne in exchange for the prince releasing his statue from the sands. Unfortunately, the book ends shortly after the prince awakens, but the fact that Thutmosis IV rose to the throne indicates that the storey had a good conclusion.

Thutmose IV

Death and burial

Thutmose IV was buried in tomb KV43 in the Valley of the Kings, but his body was eventually relocated to the mummy cache in KV35, where Victor Loret found it in 1898. An examination of his remains reveals that he was gravely unwell and had been withering away in the months leading up to his death. Amenhotep III, his son, succeeded him to the throne. A physician from Imperial College London has looked into Thutmose IV’s early death, as well as the deaths of other Eighteenth dynasty pharaohs (including Tutankhamun and Akhenaten). He comes to the conclusion that their early deaths were most likely caused by a family temporal epilepsy. Due to the link of this form of epilepsy with great spiritual visions and religiosity, this would account for both Thutmose IV’s sudden death and his religious vision depicted on the Dream Stele.


What was Thutmose IV known for?

The repair of the Great Sphinx of Giza and subsequent commission of the Dream Stele were Thutmose’s most recognised achievements.

Why did Thutmose IV restore the Sphinx?

According to legend, Prince Thutmose, son of Amenhotep II, fell asleep near the Sphinx. In Thutmose’s dream, the statue, dubbed Harmakhet, bemoaned its state of disorder and struck a bargain with the young prince: if he swept the sand off the statue and restored it, it would help him become king.

What did Thutmose IV build?

Thutmose built the enormous obelisk that presently stands in front of the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome throughout the rest of his calm reign. He erected a tiny but beautiful funerary temple in western Thebes, and he also left tributes at Memphis, his childhood home.

How did Thutmose iv die?

In 2012, a surgeon from Imperial College London looked into Thutmose IV’s early death, as well as the deaths of other Eighteenth Dynasty pharaohs (including Tutankhamun and Akhenaten). He comes to the conclusion that their early deaths were most likely caused by a family temporal epilepsy.

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