Saturday, 25 March 2017
Trowelblazers - Tatiana Proskouriakoff
Tatiana Proskouriakoff was a Russian archaeologist whose speciality was Mayan culture. She was born in Tomsk in 1909, and her father was sent to the US in 1915 by Czar Nicholas II to oversee the production of munitions for the First World War. When the Revolution happened in 1917, the family were forced to stay in the USA, and Tatiana only visited Russia again once, to meet fellow Mayanist Yuri Knorozov.
Initially trained as an architect, she went to work for the University of Pennsylvania Museum in 1936, on the Mayan site at Piedras Negras, between Mexico and Guatamala. Here she discovered the discipline which would become her life's work, and led to positions at the Carnegie Institution in Washington DC, and later Harvard University.
During the Second World War, she worked on the translation of Mayan heiroglyphs, making significant contributions to the field.
She became the honorary curator of Mayan art at the Peabody Museum on 1958, where she also taught a number of young women who went on to work in the field of Maya archaeology, and she died in 1985. She was buried at Piedras Negras, in Structure J-23, on Easter Sunday, 1998, where there is a plaque in her honour. Another plaque in her honour has been set up in her home town of Lansdowne, Pennsylvania.