I wish all the Followers and Bloggers a Very Happy New Year .
May all your Dreams Come true and Wishing you the Very Best Possible.
Loads of Love ,
I wish all the Followers and Bloggers a Very Happy New Year .
May all your Dreams Come true and Wishing you the Very Best Possible.
Loads of Love ,
Michael Schumacher‘s treatment for severe head injuries has entered a “decisive” 48-hour period that will determine whether he survives, his doctors said on Monday. The seven-times Formula 1 world champion, who fell and hit his head on a rock while skiing off-piste, would have died if he had not been wearing a ski helmet, medics said. According to one report, the impact was so severe that the helmet cracked.
Specialists refused to speculate on whether he would survive or whether he has suffered permanent brain damage, as his treatment was being taken “hour by hour”. However, he has “a great number of lesions” on his brain after his accident in the French Alps on Sunday. The German, 44, remained critically ill in a coma and was being kept in a state of hypothermia to minimise the risk of further brain damage. Doctors said his supreme fitness would help in his fight to stay alive.
David Coulthard, who raced against Schumacher for 13 years, backed his friend to “come through the greatest challenge of his life” as former drivers and Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, sent messages of support. Schumacher had ignored advice to skiers to stay on the pistes in the resort of Meribel, where he owns a chalet, after heavy snow increased the risk of avalanches and obscured rocks. He hit the right side of his head and Jean-Francois Payen, chief anaesthetist at the Grenoble University Hospital Centre where Schumacher was being treated, said his helmet “protected him in part” from the “violence” of the impact, adding: “Someone who hadn’t been wearing a helmet would not have got here. Despite the helmet he has serious lesions [injuries].”
He added: “It is too early, at this stage, to make a judgment about the future of Michael Schumacher. His situation is critical.” He said Schumacher had undergone emergency surgery after arriving at the hospital to remove blood from a haematoma, or bleeding inside the brain, and there were no plans for a second operation. The haematoma caused swelling in a “critical” location in the brain. Prof Stephan Chabardes, the neurosurgeon who operated on him, said: “The next 24 hours are critical. We monitor developments. The next 24 or 48 hours will be decisive.”
Schumacher’s body was being kept at a temperature of 93F-95F (34C-35C), below normal, to reduce the brain’s need for oxygen. Doctors said he was in “an artificial coma and a state of hypothermia”.
Schumacher was skiing with his 14-year-old-son, Michael Jr, when he fell. Rescuers were on hand within minutes, and found Schumacher conscious but “extremely agitated”. His son, wife Corinna and daughter Gina-Maria were at the hospital, where they released a statement thanking medics and “people from around the world who have expressed their sympathy and sent their best wishes”.
Last year, Samsung and rival LG Electronics, the world’s top two TV makers, touted OLED as the future of TV. OLED screens are ultrathin and can display images with enhanced clarity and deeper color saturation.
But Samsung and LG failed to make OLED TVs a mainstream that would replace the LCD television sets and still struggling to mass produce larger and affordable TVs with OLED. Meanwhile, Japanese media reported last week that Sony Corp. and Panasonic Corp. decided to end their OLED partnership.
Demand for U-HD TVs is expected to rise despite dearth of content while its price will likely come down faster than that of the OLED TVs. Much of the growth is forecast to come from China, a major market for the South Korean TV makers. Chinese TV makers have been making a push into the U-HD TV market as well.
According to NPD DisplaySearch, global sales of ultra-HD TV sets will surge from 1.3 million this year to 23 million in 2017. More than half of the shipments will be taken by Chinese companies between 2013 and 2017, according to NPD.
While Chinese TV makers have been seeking to boost sales of U-HD TVs with a lower price and a smaller size, Samsung’s strategy is to go bigger with a higher price tag. Samsung’s 110-inch U-HD TV measures 2.6 meters by 1.8 meters. It will be available in China, the Middle East and Europe. In South Korea, the TV is priced at 160 million won ($152,000) while prices in other countries vary.
Samsung said it received 10 orders for the latest premium TVs from the Middle East. Previously, the largest U-HD TV made by Samsung was 85-inch measured diagonally.
The ultra-HD TVs are also known as “4K” because they contain four times more pixels than an HD TV.
Deadly explosions ripped into the Russian city Volgograd for the second day in a row, causing the death of at least 14 people, and raising security concerns in the weeks before the Sochi Winter Olympics.
Monday’s explosion of an electric trolley bus follows follows a blast at Volgograd’s main railway station on Sunday that killed another 17 and injured 50 civilians. According to Russia’s Investigative Committee, a male suicide bomber caused the blast, though his remains still need to be analyzed to determine an identity and possible affiliation. “The blast was so strong that the windows of the five-storey building opposite were blown out,” said Vladimir Markin, the committee’s spokesman, in a statement. “According to our preliminary data, the power of the explosive device was equivalent to at least 4kg TNT.”
Both Sunday and Monday’s bombs contained shrapnel that was “identical,” pointing to a link between the explosions, the Investigative Committee said. “That confirms the investigators’ version that both terrorist attacks were linked,” Vladimir Markin told Russian television. “They could have been prepared in one place.”
While no individual or group has claimed credit for the bombings, Dmitiri Trenin, Carnegie Institute’s Moscow Director, sees the outlines of a strategic goal in the targets that the perpetrators have chosen. “For the time being, and maybe in preparation for bigger strikes, the terrorists have focused on some of the softer targets in the south of Russia,” Trenin writes. “Soft, but not unimportant. Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, a symbol of Russia’s tragedy and triumph in World War II, has been singled out by the terrorists precisely because of its status in people’s minds. Their aim was to hurt Russia’s pride, as well as its people.” So far in response, St. Petersburg has cancelled its New Year’s fireworks amid safety concerns.
For now, it remains unclear just how these latest attacks will effect preparations for Sochi, due to take place in just six weeks. Russia had already begun stepping up “security efforts” ahead of the Olympics, including preparing to monitor all communications in the Black Sea city. Moscow has also banned rallies and protests scheduled to coincide with the Olympics, and begun collecting DNA samples from Muslim women. The DNA sampling began after another suicide bombing in Volgograd in October. “In response, security forces have blown up the homes of attackers’ relatives, sealed off mountain villages and rounded up young men suspected of having ties to armed fighters,” Radio Free Europe reported at the time.
That response mirrors what has been seen in parts of the Russian Federation, including the Caucasus states of Chechnya and Dagestan, that have been home to intermittent fighting over the decades, as the Kremlin has clashed with nationalist sentiments from the regions’ inhabitants as well as Islamic extremism. Earlier this year, the Caucasus Emirate’s Doku Umarov called for fighters to disrupt the the Olympics. Fingers have already begun to be pointed towards the region, with Russian news service Interfax reporting a man who received training in Dagestan conducted the first bombing. The governor of Ingushetia also took to Russian television to warn about the need to combat “radical Islam.”
The United States, though at loggerheads with Russia over several other issues — including Syria and the crackdown on gay rights ahead of the Olympics — was quick to offer its sympathies. “The United States condemns in the strongest terms today’s terrorist attack in Volgograd,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement on Sunday. “We send our sincere condolences to the families of the victims and stand in solidarity with the Russian people against terrorism of any kind.” U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, himself a target of Russian animus at times, tweeted out, “All my thoughts and prayers – about victims of these heinous atrocities.”
By Hayes Brown
When it comes to politics, politicians are always equipped with some major unexpected twist and turns. They are often the source of inspiration who can lift the economic condition of a country, or can be the source of chaos. Here are the names of such 10 politicians who hogged major limelight in 2013 as listed by India TV
After emerging as NDA’s prime ministerial nominee, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi—fondly called NaMo, embarked on a spirited campaign for 2014 Lok Sabha elections creating political enthusiasm in business-oriented state. On September this year, the BJP’s parliamentary board declared Modi as a prime ministerial candidate of NDA. Modi’s elevation has aroused much enthusiasm about politics among the business-oriented Gujarati communities. He is among Time magazine’s shortlisted candidates for its ‘Person of the Year’ title and has emerged as an early favorite among the readers in an online poll; however, Modi is the only Indian shortlisted in the list.
Arvind Kejriwal, a well known social activist, now emerged as an active politician who formally launched Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi on 26 November. He has contested elections for the first time in the Delhi Legislative Assembly and are all set to form a government. Kejriwal defeated Sheila Dikshit, a three-time Chief Minister of Delhi, with a huge margin of 25, 864 votes. He is now one among the five most mentioned Indian politicians on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan was recently sworn in as Madhya Pradesh chief minister for third consecutive term after he led the Bharatiya Janata Party to a spectacular hat-trick in assembly elections. 54-year-old Chouhan was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Madhya Pradesh governor Ram Naresh Yadav at a ceremony held at Jamboree ground in Bhopal. Known for maintaining a low-profile, Chouhan led the BJP to win an impressive 165 seats in 230-member legislative assembly reducing Congress tally to just 58 from 71 in 2008.Presently, he represents Budhni constituency, a tehsil place in Sehore district, in the Madhya Pradesh assembly.
Chhattisgarh’s Chief Minister, Raman Singh has joined the influential club of BJP chief ministers who have scored hat-tricks in their respective states, leading his party to a historic victory. This has been done despite several challenges like criticism from Opposition Congress after the killing of its senior leaders and anti-incumbency factor. But the Chhattisgarh Food Security Act, which he is credited of bringing in much before the National Food Security Act, is being dubbed as a game changer for 61-year-old Singh. Distribution of rice at subsidized price to poor families seems to have done the trick for the ‘Chaur wale baba’ (rice man) who proved wrong all political analysis and opinion polls to emerge victorious.
Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia, who failed five years ago on account of infighting in BJP, reinvented herself and galvanized the cadre to spearhead her party’s spectacular comeback to power in Rajasthan. 60-year-old Raje, who belongs to the royal Scindia family of Gwalior and married in Rajasthan, managed to get the BJP high command fully behind her in her bid to oust the Congress government headed by Ashok Gehlot. It was the full-throated backing from Narendra Modi who extensively toured Rajasthan during the election campaign that led to her victory. Vasundhara’s rise from a National Executive member of BJP to one of its most powerful leaders in Rajasthan can be attributed to her charismatic personality and strong will, which have helped her tide over political crises from within and outside in her 30-year-long political career.
Pu Lalthanhawla who recently sworn in as the Mizoram Chief Minister in Aizawl was the icing on the Congress’s failure on other states in the recent polls. Lalthanhawla has become Chief Minister for a consecutive term for the second time and a record fifth term in his political career. He led the Congress party to a landslide victory with the ruling party winning 34 seats in the 40-member Mizoram Assembly, two seats more than the 2008 Assembly polls.
K Siddaramaiah, the 22nd Chief Minister of Karnataka rose to great heights within a short span of his political career. The congress in Karnataka had successfully defeated the BJP government under his leadership. He had contested from Varuna Constituency and won 2013 election from same constituency on 8 May 2013. He was elected as the leader of the Congress legislative party in the Karnataka assembly on 10 May 2013. He had previously announced that 2013 assembly election would be his last election.
Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar since 2005 is one of the most sincere and competent leader. He has been hinted as a best Prime Ministerial candidate. Most recently, Nitish Kumar is the talk of the social media platforms after breaking 17 years long ties with BJP with the elevation of Narendra Modi as the Chairman of the BJP Campaign Committee for the upcoming 2014 General Election. Nitish gained positive discussions for Development and Economy.
Manmohan Singh is in his second term as India’s Prime Minister and the stability of the UPA government has been questioned frequently, whether it will make it till the next general elections. He was tagged as an ‘Underachiever’ last year by TIME magazine; however, his leadership has fetched the Indian economy the $1 Trillion milestone. On the other hand, he is frequently in the news by for spending a whopping amount of 642 crore in the previous nine years while going for a foreign trip.
Rahul Gandhi is one of the politicians in the country from whom a lot is expected. After being appointed as the Vice President of the Indian National Congress, he is second in position in the party, following his mother Sonia Gandhi, the party President. The moving speech at the Chintan Shivir has rested many speculations about Rahul’s seriousness as a leader and has made ‘Rahul vs Modi’ in the 2014 general election official sight to watch.
India in 2013 has witnessed many sorts of events that are scandalous, disastrous or heart wrenching, which made people awestruck. Here are names of 10 such events that made headlines in this year, reports IndiaTV.
1. Indian Diplomat case: Devyani Khobragade
The controversy surrounding the arrest and detention of Devyani Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general in New York raised a major question whether this incident would affect the Indo-U.S. relations. Khobragade was charged on 11 December 2013, of committing visa fraud and providing false statements for an Indian woman who was brought as a domestic help for Khobragade in New York. She was arrested the following day by U.S. Department of State Police and the United States Marshal Service, leading to a major diplomatic standoff between India and the United States.
2. Uttarakhand floods 2013
The flood in Uttarakhand was the one of the most unfortunate events that saddened the families of many. The flood struck the temple town earlier this year. The hill town was flooded at all sides because of the cloudburst, recording death toll of over 10000 people. The after effect of the disaster was worst as many lives were lost. The so called ‘Himalayan tsunami’ not only took away the lives of many people in and around the area but has also left people with no basics like food, clothing and shelter. Such devastating floods and landslides are regarded as the country’s worst natural disaster since the 2004 tsunami.
3. Sexaul Assault Case-Asaram Bapu
Asharam Bapu who is endearingly called Bapu is one of the most controversial spiritual gurus. He is accused of land grabbing in Gujarat and various other cities. This Spiritual leader has been booked for sexual assault case involving minor daughter of one of his devotees following a complaint from a minor girl at Kamala Market police station in central Delhi. One of the victims has accused Asaram of repeated sexual assault between 1997 and 2006 when she had been living in his ashram on the outskirts of Ahmedabad city.
4. Tehelka Case:Tarun Tejpal
Tehelka founder, Tarun Tejpal too made headlines for a sexual assault case. He has been accused of sexually assaulting a junior colleague during the ‘Think fest’ that took place in Goa. Tejpal who was in charge of the magazine since it’s launched in March 2000 stepped down for six months after the recent incident. He has worked with many news publications such as, editor at India Today, Indian Express Group and as the managing editor of Outlook. Police in the state of Goa, where the incident took place, have filed a First Information Report (FIR) against Tejpal. This got public attention because of his reputation, which he earned as a founder of Tehelka. The victim was a chief correspondent in his magazine, and she resigned out of disgust over the mishandling by the organization.
5. Sexual Assault Case: Narayan Sai
Narayan Sai, also known as Narayan Prem Sai and called Sai Ji by his followers, is a spiritual leader, singer, lyricist and a poet. He is the son of Hindu preacher Asaram Bapu. As there is a saying, “Like Father like Son”, he too is accused of sexual abuse and rape case. On September this year, Sai was charged with molestation. Several women have accused Sai of exploiting them physically and raping them. Most recently, a local court of Surat declared Sai an absconder (fugitive). As per some media reports, there is a claim that Sai had shaved off his head to hide his identity. A local court in Surat declared Narayan Sai, son of controversial self-styled godman Asaram, evading arrest for over a month in connection with the sexual assault case lodged against him by one of the two city-based sisters, as a proclaimed absconder.
6. Gay Sex Verdict in India
The Supreme Court recently held that consensual sex between adults of the same gender as a criminal offence. This leaves the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community dejected. As scores from the community came out on the streets to protest the verdict, the government indicated they will take the legislative route on decriminalization of same gender sexual relations.
Setting aside a Delhi High Court verdict of 2009 that decriminalized sexual relations between people of the same sex, Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice S.J. Mukhopadhayay said: “We hold that Section 377 IPC does not suffer from the vice of unconstitutionality and the declaration made by the division bench of the high court is legally unsustainable,” reports IANS.
The section holds that same-gender sexual relationship is against the order of nature and an offence entailing imprisonment up to life sentence.
India’s ambitious and first space mission to explore Mars was successfully launched on November 5 from the spaceport of Sriharikota, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). This, completing the first stage of an 11-month journey that could see New Delhi’s low-cost space programme win Asia’s race to the Red Planet. Primary objectives of the mission are to demonstrate India’s technological capability to send a satellite to orbit around Mars and conduct meaningful experiments such as looking for signs of life, take pictures of the red planet and study Martian environment.
8. Cyclone Phailin
Cyclone Phailin, one of the largest cyclone that striked the Bay of Bengal, left a trail of destruction by knocking down lakhs of homes affecting nearly 90 lakh people and destroying paddy crops worth about 2,400 crore. As the largest evacuation efforts in the country’s recent history helped keep casualties to the minimum, reports from the afected state like Odisha confirmed the death of 23 people. Most of the casualties were caused by wall collapse, uprooted trees and in floods.
9. Aarushi Hemraj double murder case
The CBI court has found the dentist couple Rajesh Talwar and Nupur Talwar guilty in the double murder case of Arushi Talwar and Hemraj. The court pronounced its judgment in the sensational double murder, one of India’s most sensational criminal cases. It has sentenced the dentist couple Dr. Rajesh Talwar and Nupur Talwar to life imprisonment in the Aarushi, Hemraj double murder case. The crimes that took place on May 15, 2008 were investigated by Uttar Pradesh Police. During the probe, police suspected the involvement of Aarushi’s parents, Rajesh and Nupur Talwar. Prosecutor R.K. Saini told the court, “All the circumstantial evidence” is against the Talwars and they “misled the investigators and destroyed evidence”, reports PTI.
10. Bodh Gaya Blast
Terror struck in one of the India’s holiest Buddhist shrines and other places in Bihar’s pilgrimage town of Bodh Gaya with simultaneous triggering of nine low intensity bombs. While four blasts took place inside the Mahabodhi temple complex, three occurred inside the Karmapa monastery, one each near the famous 80-ft Buddha statue and at the bus stand near bypass. The temple’s sanctum sanctorum and the Bodhi Tree, under which Lord Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment, did not suffer any damage in the blasts. Around Five people, including two Buddhist monks, were injured by the blasts.
The main danger to the Dynasty comes from Narendra Modi. Stopping Narendra Modi is all his detractors think of. Kejriwal and his image as a corruption fighter is in fact the only ace the dynasty has up its sleeve to stop Modi. Mainstream media does not tire from projecting Arvind Kejriwal as if he was himself a PM candidate running against Narendra Modi.
If Arvind Kejriwal can entice the urban youth away from Modi, there is a chance that Modi would then not get a good majority and thus would have to either have to make way for a more amenable BJP leader or accept the poisoned chalice of support of “secular party” agents thus hindering him in translating his agenda.
So Arvind Kejriwal has to be bolstered at all costs.
So the question was how best to bolster Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party? The Congress could have chosen to not extend outside support to AAP.
So due to all these considerations it was felt by both Congress and AAP that Arvind Kejriwal’s loss of political virginity and idealistic appeal to Congress can be otherwise offset and in fact be bolstered even more.
Most detractors of Arvind Kejriwal, especially those in BJP, take it for granted that Arvind Kejriwal would not go after Congress corruption once in office, as otherwise Congress would withdraw support. Actually they revel in this certainty.
There is no such certainty. By taking over power in Delhi, Kejriwal has eaten his cake, his reputation.
But the understanding with Congress is that he is still going to have his reputation in the end, in fact it would be multiplied even more.
What we assume is that Sonia’s and Congress’s interests are identical. They are not. In order to let Arvind Kejriwal win, Sonia started shifting her vote-banks through the local Congress controllers towards AAP, even as it decimated Congress MLA candidates. Sonia Gandhi got the mainstream media to do carpet bombing of Delhi citizens with news and interviews of Arvind Kejriwal and his movement and tried to project the animosity between AAP and Congress as real.
So the AAP-Congress plan is to have Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal discover some big corruption scandal against some prominent Congress leader, possibly against Sheila Dixit herself. Even a scam pointing culpability directly at the dynasty itself is not unthinkable. Such a scam and the following attack by CM Arvind Kejriwal would give him even more credibility. The thing is all these scams are going to be discovered anyway if Modi comes to power, so better let one’s own man uncover one or two of them and use these to bolster his image.
So to keep the pretense of genuine opposition by Arvind Kejriwal to Congress corruption, most probably Congress would pull the rug sometime in March or early April, a few weeks before the Lok Sabha elections. This would allow Arvind Kejriwal to hog the limelight with his attack on Congress corruption or even Dynasty-based corruption. Impressed by his selfless pursuit of anti-corruption struggle where Arvind Kejriwal even endangers his CMship, many voters in cities around the country would vote for AAP candidates. Instead of NaMo being at the spearhead of anti-corruption drive against Congress and Dynasty, Arvind Kejriwal would be able to don this mantle, or at least the mainstream media would try their level best to put it on his head. Arvind Kejriwal would be projected as somewhat who sacrificed his position as CM for his principles.
This approach would then confirm the faith of the faithfools of Hazrat Kejriwal. It would also allay the fears of those who thought Arvind Kejriwal was compromised by Congress. And in fact this theater may even attract more votes who did not believe in Arvind Kejriwal or AAP earlier, as they would see themselves proven wrong about him. In this case it would be difficult to not see the rakshasa as a devta.
So what happens then? Does Arvind Kejriwal have to pay anything? Of course not! Congress would withdraw support and Lt. Governor of Delhi would declare President’s Rule in Delhi. The fun part of it would be that if done in March, it would be too late to hold elections for Delhi assembly together with Lok Sabha elections. So Kejriwal would be free, even from CMship, to campaign across the country on his “anti-corruption” agenda. Also there would be no danger of AAP MLAs rebelling against Kejriwal as he would again be upheld as a new prophet of anti-corruption, unlike now where Kejriwal is being seen with suspicion holding hands with Congress.
Once the Lok Sabha elections are over, and before the Lt. Governor is changed by the next government at the Center, the Congress legislators would again pledge their support to AAP. If that looks too suspicious, in the aftermath of the Congress rout in 2014, the Delhi Congress could simply rename itself and superficially cut its ties to parent Congress, and thus give Arvind Kejriwal their support, under a new name!
So before the new government takes over at the Center, Delhi would again have a stable Arvind Kejriwal led government, perhaps this time including the “erstwhile” Delhi Congress MLAs formally into the government.
So Kejriwal gets to stay as Delhi CM for a full 5 year term, i.e. unless he is made PM by some third front, AND at the same time Kejriwal receives both a boost from exposing some scam just before elections and can keep his image as anti-corruption crusader intact.
Arvind Kejriwal can have his cake and eat it too!
BJP’s only chance is to break away MLAs of Congress or of AAP right now. Make them resign on principle and force a reelection. Congress MLAs can resign by exposing Sonia’s hand in the defeat of many Congress MLAs through her support to AAP. AAP MLAs can resign citing Arvind Kejriwal’s duplicitous move to form a government with the support of Congress.
If the Delhi BJP does not do this now, then there is a real possibility of them sitting in opposition benches for at least the next 5 years even though they came so close to power. Much worse would be that Arvind Kejriwal would be ballooned by Sonia Gandhi to a size of NaMo just before elections through the media and thus stop the Modi juggernaut just enough to deny him a free hand at Center even if he does become the PM.
STEPPING TOWARD A TRUE PYRAMID
Intended to hold his mummified body, Pharaoh Djoser‘s Step Pyramid at Saqqara began as a traditional, flat-roofed mastaba. But by the end of his 19-year reign, in 2611 B.C., it had risen to six stepped layers and stood 204 feet (62 meters) high. It was the largest building of its time.
Extensive use of stone—here and there carved to resemble wood, reeds, or other softer materials—made the tomb more durable than its mud-brick forebears. Such pioneering techniques led many ancient historians to credit the chief architect, Imhotep, with inventing stone architecture.
The Step Pyramid complex was enclosed by a 30-foot (10-meter) wall and included courtyards, temples, and chapels covering nearly 40 acres (16 hectares)—the size of a large town in the third millennium B.C.
As in earlier mastaba tombs, the Step Pyramid’s burial chambers are underground, hidden in a maze of tunnels, probably to discourage grave robbers. The tomb was nevertheless plundered, and all that remains of Djoser, the third king of Egypt’s 3rd dynasty (time line), is his mummified left foot.
CLASSIC FACT: Imhotep—architect of the Step Pyramid, physician, priest, and founder of a cult of healing—was deified 1,400 years after his lifetime.
FIRST PYRAMID OF A PROLIFIC BUILDER
Builder of several pyramids, Pharaoh Snefru, secured access to monument-building stone via military victories outside Egypt.
Likely influenced by the Step Pyramid of Djoser, Snefru, the first king of the 4th dynasty (time line), began a seven-level stepped pyramid some 35 miles (56 kilometers) south of Saqqara. By the time his workers had reached the fourth or fifth level, Snefru upped the ante to eight steps.
The first Egyptian pyramid with an aboveground burial chamber (just above the first step level), the Maidum tomb may represent an effort to raise the chamber closer to the sun god. Another innovation is the archlike design of the burial chamber’s walls.
The pyramid was temporarily abandoned 15 years into Snefru’s reign—probably when he moved his court north from Memphis to Dahshur. Before Snefru’s death the three lowest steps were filled in to form the smooth edges of a classic pyramid.
Today only the three highest steps are visible above the shifting sands, fallen debris, and sloping base.
A FLAWED EFFORT
This first Egyptian attempt at a smooth-sided pyramid was likely designed to have very steep sides. But a lack of stability probably influenced the architects to aim for a new angle halfway through construction.
Built after he abruptly shifted his court north to Dahshur, this second pyramid by Snefru had an unprecedented two burial chambers, each with a separate entrance.
CLASSIC FACT: The cult of Snefru was centered at the Bent Pyramid, even though he was never buried there.
THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM
Soon after the bend in the Bent Pyramid began to take shape, Snefru ordered another pyramid to be built nearby, the Red, or North, Pyramid. It would be Snefru’s third attempt at a classic, smooth-sided pyramid, and it was a charm—an elegant precursor to the Great Pyramids at Giza.
The Red Pyramid boasted a single burial chamber that was accessed through two smaller chambers. Snefru may have been buried here, and it seems likely that his son, Pharaoh Khufu, hurriedly finished construction after his father’s death.
It is also possible that Snefru was buried in Mastaba 17, a tomb near the Maidum Pyramid. There archaeologists discovered a red granite sarcophagus, which still contained human remains. The sarcophagus was shipped to the British Museum in 1910, but before it could be studied more closely, the remains were lost.
WONDER OF THE WORLD
Khufu, son of Snefru and second ruler of the 4th dynasty (time line) moved the royal necropolis to Giza, north of modern-day Cairo. According to ancient Greek historian Herodotus, Khufu (aka Cheops) enslaved his people to build his pyramid. But archaeologists have since disproved his account (see “Who Built the Pyramids?”).
On the Giza Plateau, Khufu’s builders oriented his pyramid almost perfectly north. The largest pyramid ever built, it incorporates about 2.3 million stone blocks, weighing an average of 2.5 to 15 tons each. It is estimated that the workers would have had to set a block every two and a half minutes.
The pyramid has three burial chambers. The first is underground, carved into bedrock. The second, aboveground chamber was called the queen’s chamber by early explorers. We now know it was never intended to house one of Khufu’s wives but perhaps a sacred statue of the king himself. The third is the king’s chamber, which held a red granite sarcophagus placed almost exactly at the center of the pyramid.
The king’s chamber is accessed via the 26-foot-high (8-meter-high) Grand Gallery, which was sealed off from thieves by sliding granite blocking systems.
The Great Pyramid was the centerpiece of an elaborate complex, which included several small pyramids, five boat pits, a mortuary temple, a causeway, a valley temple, and many flat-roofed tombs for officials and some members of the royal family.
CLASSIC FACT: Several mystery shafts extend from the king’s and queen’s chambers. Neither airshafts (they were sealed) nor hallways (they are too narrow), they may have been designed to allow Khufu to travel to the stars in his afterlife. A blocked shaft from the queen’s chamber was penetrated in 2002. Archaeologists discovered another stone blocking their way
A MORE COMPLEX COMPLEX
Though Khafre’s pyramid is shorter than his father Khufu’s nearby Great Pyramid, Khafre made up for it by building at a higher elevation and surrounding his pyramid with a more elaborate complex.
Within the burial chamber, explorers discovered a small pit cut in the floor—perhaps designed to hold the first canopic chest in a pyramid. Canopic chests held jars carved in the shapes of protective spirits. These jars, in turn, held the preserved liver, lungs, stomach, and intestines of the deceased. The brain would have been discarded, and the heart left in the body.
Outside the pyramid all the typical elements of a pharaonic mortuary temple are seen in one place for the first time: entrance hall, colonnaded courtyard, niches for royal statuary, storage chambers, and interior sanctuary. Later pyramids would be significantly smaller, with greater emphasis on these mortuary temples.
Khafre’s necropolis also boasted an unprecedented profusion of statues, among them the Sphinx. Carved from bedrock in front of Khafre’s pyramid, the Sphinx depicts the pharaoh as a human-headed lion, wearing the headdress of the pharaohs. The great statue is the embodiment of Khafre, the third ruler of the 4th dynasty (time line), as the god Horus.
CLASSIC FACT: Napoleon’s troops have long been blamed with blowing off the nose of the Sphinx in the 18th century, but a 15th-century Arab historian reported that it had disappeared in his time.
Perhaps there wasn’t enough room left at the Giza Plateau. Maybe the cost of building was too high. For whatever reason, this last of the three Great Pyramids was considerably smaller. But following the trend begun at his predecessor Khafre’s complex, Menkaure’s mortuary temple was much more elaborate than the one at Khufu’s pyramid.
Sixth ruler of the 4th dynasty (time line), Menkaure built himself a pyramid one-tenth the size of Khafre’s. And unlike the other Great Pyramids, whose walls were made of limestone, Menkaure’s pyramid was sheathed in granite on the bottom levels and in the burial chamber—a costlier, more difficult stone to work with.
Menkaure died unexpectedly, and work on his pyramid complex was abandoned. Menkaure’s heir, Shepseskaf, likely later completed the complex using mud brick.
CLASSIC FACT: Excavators found a sarcophagus in Menkaure’s burial chamber in the 1800s and sent it to England. The ship carrying it, however, sank in the Mediterranean, taking the sarcophagus with it.
LONG REIGN, SHORT TOMB
After Pharaoh Menkaure, pyramids were built—often shoddily—on a much smaller scale and often of inferior materials. And the focus of pyramid building moved from Giza to Saqqara, site of the first Egyptian pyramid, and Abusir. This trend continued under the last of the great ancient Egyptian pyramid builders.
At six years old, Pepi II became the second ruler of the 6th dynasty (time line). By the time of his ascension to the throne, the Old Kingdom, pharaonic power, and tax revenues were on the wane. And by the end of his 94- or 64-year reign (scholars differ on the number), the kingdom was plagued by foreign and domestic conflicts as well as by famine and unrest caused by drought.
Pepi II’s long reign is juxtaposed by his short pyramid, which was probably finished in the 30th year of his reign—perhaps 60 years before he died.
Inside the pyramid, Pepi II’s burial chamber protects a black granite sarcophagus under a ceiling sparkling with painted stars. Pyramid Texts—a late Old Kingdom development—are carved into the walls. As incantations to assure the ascension of a pharaoh’s soul, these texts would have been one more effort to perpetuate the glory of Egypt.