Multimedia Collection

Knorosov: The Decipherment of the Mayan Script

57 min
F1435.3 .W75 K567 2000

After the discovery of Mayan writings in the 16th century, their meaning remained a mystery for almost 500 years. Many believed they would never be deciphered. But an unknown Russian scholar, Yuri Valentinovich Knorosov, found the key. However, in the political climate of the Cold War, Western scholars ignored his findings. It took more than 20 years for the world to recognize his achievement.

KNOROSOV THE DECIPHERMENT OF THE MAYAN SCRIPT traces the history of the ancient Mayan codices since their discovery, and tells the fantastic story of Knorosov and his accomplishment, perhaps the greatest archaeological achievement since the translation of the Rosetta Stone.

A practically unknown linguist who had never visited the Mayan sites, Knorosov discovered the key to the Mayan writing system while working at the Russian Institute of Ethnography in Leningrad after World War II. Published in 1952 in the midst of the Cold War, the Western academic community dismissed his work as harboring Marxist-Leninist leanings.

KNOROSOV recounts the personal and intellectual journey that led to his discovery, and the subsequent struggle for recognition. The film explains the process Knorosov used to succeed where so many had failed, and incorporates animated sequences that illustrate how the Mayan Script was deciphered. The film includes interviews with Knorosov, and the contemporary Maya scholars including Michael Coe, author "Breaking the Maya Code."

The film also explores the groundbreaking work that Knorosov undertook in later years on the origin and migration of the Mayan people. And it includes footage from Knorosov's trips to Mexico and Guatemala shortly before his death, where he was awarded the highest honors that each country can bestow on a foreigner, and when he saw the Mayan ruins in person for the first time.

Distributed by West Glen Comminications, Inc.

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