American Mayanist scholar and archaeologist. Born in Tomsk, Siberia in the Russian Empire. She moved with her family to the US in 1915 after Czar Nicholas II requested her father oversee the production of munitions for WWI. The Russian Revolution forced the family to remain in the USA permanently. After graduating from Pennsylvania State University in 1930, she went to work for the University of Pennsylvania Museum and was sent to the Maya site of Piedras Negras. She is known for her considerable contributions to the decipherment of Maya hieroglyphs, the writing system of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization of Mesoamerica. She was awarded the Alfred V. Kidder Medal in 1962 for her discovery of the recording of history by the Mayans. Named Penn State's Woman of the Year in 1971. She was also given honorary degrees from Tulane University and Pennsylvania State University. In 1984, she received the highest honor given to a foreigner by the people of Guatemala, the Order of the Quetzal. In 2009 the TV documentary NOVA broadcast a special about the Maya hieroglyphs in which her accomplishments were featured.
~ bio by Sharon Hanson Frey
Sponsored by Ancestry