The Book of Days
With Images from the Ancient Egyptian Papyrus of Ani
And Zodiacal Signs from the Temple of Isis in Denderah
Hardcover, Smyth-sewn, 136 pages (including 9 blank pages), full color throughout
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The Egyptians were extremely conscious of time. The annual inundation of the Nile was a key to their agricultural efforts and national survival. Their calendar is one of humanity’s oldest, dating back at least 6,000 years.
The timeless and beautiful images of The Book of Going Forth by Day, as created for the individual papyrus of the Scribe Ani, continue to resonate in our modern world—some 3,500 years after being painted in the scroll compiled for him and his wife Tutu. Ani believed the collection of prayers and spells in his personal papyrus would allow his and his wife’s souls to soar freely through the realms of the Egyptian Afterlife after their deaths.
The frantic pace of our modern world makes a calendar such as this a reminder of those important events within our own lives. They mark the never-changing experiences that form our character and memories—individual milestones and those shared with family and friends. Their significance extends throughout our own history and that of the generations to come.
The images of The Book of Going Forth by Day, also known as The Egyptian Book of the Dead were painted for Ani in about 1250 BC during the Nineteenth Dynasty. The prayers and spells derive from the much earlier Pyramid Texts, originally carved into the stone walls of the royal burial chambers of the Pharoahs beginning around 2400 BC. Later still, about 2000 BC, the prayers for the Afterlife became more widespread and the nobility had these hymns painted on their coffins. They are thus known as the Coffin Texts. Beginning around 1550 BC, the prayers, hymns, and spells began to be painted on papyrus—when they became known as the Books of the Dead—an even more widespread distribution to the middle class. Ani’s papyrus is acknowledged as the longest, best preserved, most complete, and most beautiful yet discovered. It was found in 1888 and is now in the British Museum.
The astrological images come from the ancient Egyptian zodiac on the ceiling of the Temple of Isis at Denderah. While the zodiac seems to have been carved around 100 BC, it appears to have been based on earlier astronomical drawings. It has been suggested that it represents midnight of the Summer Solstice of 700 BC when Sirius rose at dawn with the Sun, an event which had long been anticipated by ancient astronomers. The zodiac depicts the twelve Egyptian zodiacal figures (which by this time in Egyptian history showed a decidedly Greek influence under the Ptolemies). Napolean’s troops removed the zodiac from Egypt in 1799. It now hangs in the Louvre.
James Wasserman is responsible for the ground-breaking Chronicle Books edition of The Egyptian Book of the Dead: The Book of Going Forth by Day. This is a full-color presentation of the entire Papyrus of Ani. The Papyrus is presented with an uncluttered modern, scholarly English translation below each image. First published in 1994, it has been in print ever since. With Introduction and Commentary by Dr. Ogden Goelet of New York University, and a Preface by Carole Andrews of the British Museum, this edition meets the most critical scholarly standards and stands as an aesthetic masterpiece, marrying word and image for the first time in 3500 years.
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