Dr. Raymond Faulkner (1894-1982)—renowned British Egyptologist—was a major contributor to the field of Egyptian philology, the translator of many important texts, and the author of numerous scholarly publications.
Dr. Ogden Goelet is assistant professor of Egyptian Language and Literature at New York University and has written extensively on the subject of Egyptology.
Carol Andrews has been a curator in the Department of Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum since 1971.
James Wasserman is an author and book designer in New York City whose innovative vision shaped the unique format of this book.
THE EGYPTIAN BOOK OF THE DEAD
The Egyptian Book of Going Forth by Day
The First Authentic Presentation of the Papyrus of Ani
Featuring integrated text and full-color images
(Originally printed in U&lc [Upper & lowercase Magazine] Fall 1994)
Recreating a Classic
Book designer Jim Wasserman tells how he discovered an ancient Egyptian illuminated papyrus and restored it for modern publication.
Twenty-one years ago, I went to work for Samuel Weiser's Occult Bookstore. My lunch hours were dedicated to an exploration of its legendary basement — off limits to the public — and filled with a plethora of rare and dusty volumes collected for over 50 years by the world's leading specialists in metaphysical books. Among the many books was the "Elephant Folio" edition of The Egyptian Book of the Dead, being the facsimile of the Papyrus of Ani. Measuring some 14 3/4 x 21 inches, the overwhelming intensity and brilliance of its magnificent 3500 year old color images, seized me with a passion that has never wavered.
The Egyptian Book of the Dead, properly known as The Book of Going Forth by Day, was an individualized papyrus scroll, intended as a guide in the afterlife. Ani himself was an important Temple scribe. His papyrus measured 78 feet long by 15 inches deep. He chose from among some 200 available prayers, hymns, spells, and ritual texts, the 80 that most appealed to him and his wife, Tutu. Their likenesses were painted among the elaborately crafted hieroglyphic vignettes. The scroll, which would be buried with them, would open a way in the afterlife, where, if successful in perservering through the trials encountered there, they expected to eventually feast and dally with the Gods of the rich Egyptian pantheon.
In 1888, Ani's papyrus was acquired in Egypt by Sir Wallis-Budge of the British Museum. He opened the scroll to find that it was the longest, best preserved, and most beautiful example of an Egyptian funerary papyrus ever discovered. He cut it into 37 relatively even length sheets, which were glued to wooden boards for translation and display. Fortunately, he also commissioned the elaborate facsimile lithograph edition of 1890 I was to discover nearly a century later. Naturally, the glue began to damage the delicate sheets, as did their exposure to direct sunlight from a skylight above their display. Also tragic was the damage to the continuity of the papyrus caused by Budge’s "yardstick" method of cutting. His translation, released 5 years later, revealed that chapters and images were often inadvertantly cut in mid-sentence, while carefully crafted whole images were split onto different sheets.
My own interest in the wisdom of the ancients led inexorably to the study of the text of The Egyptian Book of the Dead (so called because the tomb robbers offering the scrolls to 19th century European Egyptologists called them the "Dead Man’s Book"). I studied Budge’s 1895 translation in the ubiquitous but virtually unreadable Dover paperback reprint. Budge’s translation was intended as a companion to the 1890 facsimile. The reader was expected to study the translation while looking at the pictures from the scroll in the facsimile. I realized I was one of the few modern readers even aware of the existence of these images.
I purchased the facsimile volume in 1979, and knew that one day I would publish it. It was initially a thankless task as publishers were daunted by the enormity of the project. This was not surprising since the technique of manual dot etching available at the time for color retouching meant the reconstruction of the original form of the scroll would be unwieldy and expensive.
However, modern computer imaging techniques gradually developed which made another approach possible. In 1991, I met Bill Corsa, a book packager, who became interested in getting the book published, as I had designed it.
The design challenges of presenting a scroll in book form are complex because a scroll is vastly different from a book. I especially wanted to maintain the integrity of the images. Budge’s facsimile volume looked like a book, with relatively even width images on even width pages. However the book I visualized would allow the reader to interpolate how the scroll was structured. To accomplish this, it was first necessary to place the translation directly below the hieroglyphic text of the images, so that the reader can appreciate the text. Next, to best display some sections of the papyrus, a few images would need just over a third of the page in width, while others had to be designed as gatefold spreads to present the ornately bordered art. Additionally the wide variations of the length of text in the original papyrus determined layout considerations. Essentially combined here are one book of pictures, placed on top of another book of words — thus an unusual trim size was indicated.
The coordination of our three principal scholars at the British Museum, Metropolitan Museum, and New York University, with constant editing, proofreading, and text correction was formidable. In addition, my design and layout of the papyrus underwent revisions and improvements. This included a full-size tracing of Budge’s 78 foot facsimile, laid on the floor, with spreads worked out until I could accept it was the best job possible of transferring the scroll to book form. After over two years of daily work, I completed the final design and production, while Bill contracted with Chronicle Books of San Francisco for publication in Fall ‘94.
We have used modern electronic technology to reclaim one of antiquity's most beautiful treasures. Carol Andrews, Assistant Keeper of Egyptian Antiquities in the British Museum, has praised the electronic restoration in her preface to this volume.
The book also features the translation of the late Dr. Raymond O. Faulkner, completed in 1972, and acknowledged by scholars as the finest in English to date. Faulkner's translation has been augmented and updated by Dr. Ogden Goelet of New York University, who has also written an introduction and extensive commentary. Following the color papyrus section, the balance of The Book of the Dead, (approximately 100 chapters not chosen by Ani and Tutu for inclusion in their personal scroll) is presented. Also provided is a section called "The Map Key to the Papyrus" which graphically displays the layout of the hieroglyphic text relative to the numbering system of the translation.
Specifications of publication:
ITC Galliard was selected for the text font, which makes extensive use of italics, true small caps and oldstyle numbers.
The book was produced on a dual platform of traditional typography and state-of-the-art computer graphics. The typesetting was accomplished with a Linotron 202, driven by Bestinfo Pagewright composition software, running on a PC-based computer through a Marcus Interface Box. Manual pasteup and FPO color xeroxes of the matchprints were used to produce camera-ready mechanicals.
The 1890 facsimile volume was photographed on 8×10 Fuji film, and scanned and separated on a Crossfield Scantex drum scanner. The high resolution images were electronically edited on a Macintosh Quadra 840AV using Adobe Photoshop. The "Map Key to the Papyrus" was assembled with Photoshop and Quark Xpress. Final film output was done on an Agfa Selectset 5000 film recorder.
Book Design, Typography, and Color Prepress: Studio 31
Photography of Facsimile Volume: Rick Young Photography
Color Scans, Separations and Film Color by: Pergament
Printing and binding: Mandarin Offset Printers
Rebinding of facsimile volume: Amistad Enterprises
Published by Chronicle Books: 9 1/2" x 14"• 176 pages • 74 color plates w/4 gatefolds Paper $24.95 • Cloth $40.00
James Wasserman is the owner of Studio 31, a graphic design and book production studio established in 1977. He resides in New York City and has been a fan of U&lc for many years.