Deciphering the Maya Script

According to Yuri Knorozov, you don’t need to jump across the pyramids to understand how to work with texts. Knorozov was a Soviet linguist and ethnographer who managed to decipher the script of the Maya civilization.

He published an article in 1952 proclaiming his achievement. At the time, he was just 30 years old, but perhaps more remarkable is that he had never visited Central America.

Knorozov studied Egyptology at Moscow State University, and was fascinated by the Mayan culture. As he recalled, he was heavily influenced by a 1945 article by German researcher Paul Schellhas titled, is deciphering of the Maya hieroglyphs an unsolvable problem?

While working on the Maya scripts, Knorozov demonstrated that the hieroglyphs represent sounds. Later, he composed a catalog of 540 symbols, and explained the method on how to use them to read and understand the Maya texts.

Knorosov’s work was translated into many languages and sparked discussions in the scientific community for decades. Soviet scientists led by Knorozov went on to work on the decipherment of other historical mysteries such as the rongorongo script of Easter Island and the Indus script.

In Mexico, there are monuments to Knorozov in the capital and in the Yucatan peninsula city of Merida where the Mayan civilization existed. The scientist is portrayed together with his cat Asya that Knorozov called his “co-author”.

The list of Soviet and Russian specialists who have made crucial contributions to physics, chemistry, medicine and biology amongst others is too long to outline, but their work is used every day around the world.

RT. com / Crickey Conservation Society 2023.

2 Comments on “Deciphering the Maya Script

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