Egypt: Tuthmosis IV of the 18th Dynasty

Tuthmosis IV of the 18th Dynasty

by Jimmy Dunn

The Pharaoh Tuthmosis IV, who ruled during Egypt famous 18th Dynasty, is probably most famous for his "Dream Stele, that can still today be found between the paws of the great Sphinx at Giza. Dreams were important in ancient Egypt and were considered to be divine predictions of the future. In Tuthmosis IV's "Dream Stele", he tells us that, while out on a hunting trip, he fell asleep in the shadow of the Sphinx (or apparently, the shadow of the Sphinx's head, for the monument was apparently buried in sand at the time). In the young prince's sleep, Re-Harakhte, the sun god embodied in the Sphinx, came to him in a dream and promised that if he would clear away the sand that engulfed the monument, Tuthmosis would become king of Egypt.

Tuthmosis IV's Dream Stele

Tuthmosis IV's Dream Stele

In part, the stele reads:

"Now the statue of the very great Khepri (the Great Sphix) restin in this place, great of fame, sacred of respect, the shade of Ra resting on him. Memphis and every city on its two sides came to him, their arms in adoration to his face, bearing great offerings for his ka. One of these days it happened that price Tuthmosis came travelling at the time of midday. He rested in the shadow of the great god. (Sleep and) dream (took possession of me) at the moment the sun was at zenith. Then he found the majesty of this noble god speaking from his own mouth like a father speaks to his son, and saying, 'Look at me, observe me, my son Tuthmosis. I am your father, Horemakhet-Khepri-Ra-Atum. I shall give to you the kingship (upon the land before the living)...(Behold, my condition is like one in illness), all (my limbs being ruined). The sand of the desert, upon which I used to be, (now) confronts me; and it is in order to cause that you do what is in my heart that I have waited."

Obviously, the prince carried out these instructions, and thus became the eighth ruler of the 18th Dynasty.

Tuthmosis IV and His Mother, Tiaa

Above: Tuthmosis IV and His Mother, Tiaa

Tuthmosis IV's name means, "Born of the God Thoth".His throne name was Men-kheperu-re, meaning "Everlasting are the Manifestations of Re". We can also find references to him under the names of Thuthmose IV, Thutmosis IV, and Djehutymes IV. He ruled Egypt between 1419 and 1386 BC. He was apparently the son of Amenhotep II by his wife, Tiaa, but Egyptologists speculate whether, because of the wording of the "Dream Stele", his claim on the Egyptian throne was legitimate. In fact, other evidence supports this contention. His father, Amenhotep II, never recognized Tuthmosis as a co-regent, or announced any intent for Thutmosis to succeed him.

We know that Tuthmosis IV was probably married to Mutemwiya, who produced his heir to the throne, Amenhotep III, though he never acknowledged her as either a major or minor queen. It is possible, though now doubted by some, that she was the daughter of he Mitannian king, Artatama, who sent his daughter to the Egyptian court as part of a diplomatic exchange. Other of his wives included Merytra, who we believe later changed her name to Tiaa (same as his mother's name) and a non-royal wife, Nefertiry. He probably also married one of his sisters named Iaret.

Tuthmosis IV is not the best documented of Egyptian pharaohs. We actually know very little about him in comparison to others of this dynasty. Little military action appears to have occurred during his reign, although our knowledge may be marred by the lack of texts. We do know that there was a Nubian campaign in Year 8 of his rule, and that apparently there were also campaigns in Syria. However, even though the king is referred to twice as the "conqueror of Syria", these may have actually been little more than policing actions, rather than full scale battles.

Little is also known of his building work. Tuthmosis IV did finish a giant obelisk that was originally quarried at Aswan under Tuthmosis III, his grandfather. At 32 meters (105 feet) it was the tallest Egyptian obelisk that we know of, and was uniquely intended to stand as a single obelisk at the Temple of Karnak. Most of the obelisks were usually erected in pairs. However, Tuthmosis III originally intended for there to be a pair of these Obelisks. Its counterpart developed a fault during the quarry process, and remains today joined to the bed-rock at Aswan. Today, the finished obelisk stands outside St. John Leteran in Rome, rather than in Egypt.

He also began work work at most of Egypt's major temple sites and four sites in Nubia, but almost all of this was simply adding to existing monuments. Most of his work was adding to the temples of his father and grandfather, and perhaps suggesting new sites and monuments to his son.

We know of his minor building projects in the following locations:

In Nubia at the following locations:

He also provided some decorations in the Hathor temple at the Serabit el-Khadim turquoise mines in the Sinai.

His best attested building project we have available today is his own tomb, KV 43, located in the Valley of the Kings and discovered by Howard Carter. However, his mummy was missing from his tomb, having been found five years earlier in a cache of mummies located in the tomb of Amenhotep II. Perhaps better known are the fine private tombs built by his nobles on the West Bank at Luxor (ancient Thebes) in an area commonly referred to as the Tombs of the Nobles. These include such notable tombs as that of Nakht (TT 52) and Menna (TT 69).

From his tomb, the Deceased Tuthmosis IV Receiving the Gift of Life from the Goddess, Hathor






Reference Number

Chronicle of the Pharaohs (The Reign-By-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt)

Clayton, Peter A.


Thames and Hudson Ltd

ISBN 0-500-05074-0

Complete Valley of the Kings, The (Tombs and Treasures of Egypt's Greatest Pharaohs)

Reeves, Nicholas; Wilkinson, Richard H.


Thames and Hudson Ltd

IBSN 0-500-05080-5

Monarchs of the Nile

Dodson, Aidan


Rubicon Press

ISBN 0-948695-20-x

Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, The

Shaw, Ian


Oxford University Press

ISBN 0-19-815034-2

Who Were the Phraohs? (A history of their names with a list of cartouches)

Quirke, Stephen


Dover Publications

ISBN 0-486-26586-2


Last Updated: August 21st, 2011