Description and Other Notes
The largest series in the Knorozov Papers and contains notes, news clippings, manuscripts and offprints by other scholars, all files organized by topic. The range of subjects is broad from Ainu pictographs, archaeology, and religion, to the peopling of the Americas, contacts between the Old and New Worlds, and Mesoamerican archaeology. There is a number of files on Maya languages and writing, and fewer files on Olmecs, Isthmian script, Peruvian writing and notation systems, Indus script, systems theory, structural linguistics, phonology, morphology, semantics, semiotics, and signaling theory.
The largest subject cluster is the materials on Maya languages and writing. It features Knorozov’s notes on Maya (Yukatek) grammar and vocabulary made while working on the manuscripts of Pis’mennost’ Indeitsev Maiia (Writing of Maya Indians) published in 1963 and Ieroglificheskiie Rukopisi Maiia (Maya Hieroglyphic Manuscripts) published in 1975. Some notes on Yukatek are organized by specific subjects like “weather” or “astronomy.” Another set of notes is dedicated to names and place names (onomastics and toponymy). Besides glosses, these notes contain examples of hieroglyphic spellings from the codices. There are also notes on the grammar and vocabulary of other Maya languages. A set of notes deals with the frequency of signs in Maya codices. In addition, the section includes thematic selections of images from the codices and photographs of Maya monuments grouped by region and archaeological sites. There are also offprints and manuscripts by David Kelley, Thomas Barthel, and Roberto Esclante. A selection of Danish newspaper articles about Knorozov’s presentation of the decipherment of Maya writing at a congress in Copenhagen in 1956 is of particular importance to anyone interested in the history of decipherment and can be found in the Biographical series. Knorozov’s bibliographic notes on Maya studies reflect his knowledge of and preferences in dealing with published works on Maya languages, writing, art, and archaeology.
In addition to Knorozov’s study of Maya writing, this series reveals his interest in the Olmec civilization and Isthmian (Olmec) and Zapotec writing, including offprints of articles on Olmec archaeology and early Mesoamerican writing systems, photographs, and notes on some Isthmian and Zapotec inscriptions. The inclusion certain offprints and drawings also illuminates Knorozov’s correspondence with Michael Coe, George Stuart, and Joyce Marcus. Various correspondents sent materials to Knorozov for opinions, or because he had difficulty obtaining a copy. Victoria de la Jara and Thomas Barthel were Knorozov’s main correspondents and providers of materials on Peru writing systems and there several files dealing with tukapu and Colonial “hieroglyphic” writing.
Knorozov’s interest in the history and theory of writing systems is also reflected in a selection of notes and materials on various scripts and notation systems grouped by type of script/signs (alphabets, syllabaries, numbers, rebuses, ciphers, and pictograms) or by geographic location (China, Japan, Africa, and Eskimo). Materials on linguistics theory constitute another major section of the research files series. These include Knorozov’s own notes on signaling theory, offprints of articles by several prominent Soviet linguists on the subjects of morphology, semantics, and phonology, and reports and newsletters of the Research Council on Cybernetics of the Academy of Sciences of USSR. Despite the fact that Knorozov published multiple articles on Easter Island and Indus scripts, there are almost no research files on these two subjects. Knorozov was in the habit of folding a piece of paper in half and placing a set of notes inside. Sometimes the package was identified, others not. A few “re-used” notes on the Indus script decipherment have been identified and placed in a separate folder.
Finally this series contains a few notes and visual materials on Ainu ethnography and language with a special emphasis on pictograms. Several packages of notes and reports also reflect Knorozov’s participation in the archaeological research on the Kuril Islands in the1980’s and 1990’s. A set of notes corresponds to Knorozov’s research on Ainu religion, which led to a publication on Ainu beliefs about reincarnation.