Crown Prince Thutmose lying on a bier

This small statuette shows the Crown Prince Thutmose lying on a lion bier. The two goddesses Isis and Nephthys are depicted at the head and the raised foot end.

The inscription on the long side of the bier gives the names and titles of the heir to the throne: “King’s son, Sem Priest, Thutmose, the justified”. But Thutmose not only has the title of Sem priest, but also the office of high priest of Ptah, Chief God of Memphis. This is also evidenced by the round wig with a falling strand of hair or sidelock of youth on the right side of the statuette.

Crown Prince Thutmose lying on a bier
Crown Prince Thutmose lying on a bier

Queen Tiye and King Amenhotep III had at least six children together: two sons and four daughters. The eldest son Thutmose died in the 30th year of his father’s reign and his younger brother Amenhotep, later also known as Amenhotep IV or Akhenaten, was appointed heir to the throne.

On the mummy shaped body of the Crown Prince Thutmose, the deceased’s Ba bird spreads its wings protectively over him. The so-called soul bird comes closest to the symbolized idea of ​​the ancient Egyptians that the soul in the form of the Ba could leave the body and return to it again.

This event is in Spell 89 from the Book of the Dead and is intended to cause “[…] that my ba comes to me from every place where it is […] that he will see his body again, and sit on his mummy. He did not perish and was not destroyed in eternity.”

The reunification of the Ba with his body is one of the most important prerequisites for life in the hereafter, and it is precisely this scene that is illustrated with the small statuette. Objects like this bier could be part of the burial equipment in the New Kingdom, both for private and royal burials.

New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Amenhotep III, ca. 1391-1353 BC. Steatite (soapstone), Height x width x depth: 5 x 9.8 x 4.4 cm; Weight: 315g. Now in the Neues Museum, Berlin. VÄGM 1997/117

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