Arm Panel From a Ceremonial Chair of Thutmose IV

Period: New Kingdom

Dynasty: Dynasty 18

Reign: reign of Thutmose IV

Date: ca. 1400–1390 B.C.

Geography: From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Valley of the Kings, Tomb of Thutmose IV (KV 43), Carter/Davis 1903

Medium: Wood (ficus sycomorus?)

Dimensions: H. 25.1 cm (9 7/8 in)

Credit Line: Theodore M. Davis Collection, Bequest of Theodore M. Davis, 1915

Accession Number: 30.8.45a–c


This fragmentary panel from the left arm of a chair was found in the tomb of Thutmose IV in the Valley of the Kings. Traces of glue on the surface suggest that the beautifully carved low relief with its exquisitely executed details was once covered with gold sheeting. On one side, the king is shown as a sphinx subduing the enemies of Egypt. The front edge of the panel is missing, but the text before the king's face probably read: "Lord of the Two Lands, Menkheperure, son of Re, Thutmose, [given] life like Re." The falcon at the upper right represents "the Behedite [Horus], the great god, with dappled plumage, giving life and dominion." The text above the sphinx's back reads: "Horus, the lord of might and action, trampling all foreign lands."

On the other side, the panel depicts "the young god, Menkheperure" enthroned, wearing the red crown of Lower Egypt. In front of him is the lion-headed goddess Weret, whose name is written above her head. Behind the king is the ibis-headed god "Thoth, Lord of Hermopolis, giving all life and dominion." Thoth says, "I have brought you millions of years of life and dominion united with eternity." Behind the throne is the phrase "All life and dominion around him [like] Re."

In 1903, Theodore M. Davis discovered the tomb of Thutmose IV, whose throne name was Menkheperure. The fragmentary remains of the king's funerary equipment included this arm panel and a second one, now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The scenes on the panels suggest that the chair was used either for the king's coronation, or possibly for his thirty-year jubilee, the sed festival.

Thutmose IV inherited from his father, Amenhotep II, a vast empire that stretched from Nubia to Syria. He was not originally the crown prince and left a famous, and perhaps fictitious, account of how he became king on the Dream Stela, which stands between the paws of the Sphinx at Giza. In it, he relates how he fell asleep between the paws of the Sphinx and in a dream, the Sphinx promised him the kingship if he would clear the sand away from his body.