David Wruting Kelley from Coe Tuesday, May 24, The world of Maya studies has lost another of its greatest scholars. A pioneer in key developments in the phonetic decipherment of Maya hieroglyphic writing, Dave was also an expert in a large number of other academic fields, from astronomy to genealogy, and from ethnohistory to calendars. Dave was born in Albany, New York, on April 1, Amos Humiston died clutching in his hand a photograph of his three young children, and newspapers began a search for the children's mother, who was finally found in upstate New York.
The oldest of the children, Frank, was Dave's grandfather [Morris ]. As Michael Coe later recounted: Two of the plates in the book fascinated him: As Dave puts it, "I thought, hey, that's something I'd like to be doing. His Senior Honors thesis Kelley set the scene for how he conducted his later research, comprising a detailed and comprehensive study of documentary sources for the study of what now would be called the ethnohistory of Central Mexico.
Dave continued please click for source Harvard as a graduate student, and was proud to call himself Alfred Tozzer's last graduate student. His dissertation Kelley was on a subject that I suspect might have initially somewhat alarmed the rather formal Tozzer. The difference, perhaps, between Dave Kelley and Alfred Tozzer was that Dave had a highly varied and eclectic repertoire: All of these subjects would remain major themes of interest to Dave for the rest of his life. By this time he had my Jane Holden, an archaeologist he had met while at Harvard, and they were starting their family, which eventually grew to four children.
Also at this time Dave was awarded two Fullbright scholarships, to undertake fieldwork and teaching in Peru and Uruguayrespectively. In the Kelleys moved to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, and later still in to the University of Calgary in Canada, where both Dave and Jane became professors in the Department of Archaeology—one of whose founders was Richard "Scotty" MacNeish, with whom Dave had conducted fieldwork in Tamaulipas, Mexico, in the s.
Around this time, Dave published several key articles on various aspects of Maya hieroglyphic writing. With this article Yankess provided the first published disssertation for Tatiana Proskouriakoff's brilliant argument that the content of the Classic period monumental inscriptions of the Maya is predominantly historical in nature. Proskouriakoff's landmark paper had been published in American Antiquity two years earlier, and while it received universal scholarly acceptance as soon as it was published, Dave Kelley's article on Quirigua was the first application of Proskouriakoff's method to the inscriptional corpus of another site.
This article represents the first major statement outside the Soviet Union in support of Yuri Knorozov's decipherment of "phonetic," or syllabic, signs in Maya writing. Dave had met Knorozov at a conference in Copenhagen in Lebrun This was significant, as the greatest Mayanist scholar of the time, J. Thompson, was implacably opposed to Knorozov's proposal and had written several stinging rebuttals of Knorozov's arguments e. However Thompson's rebuttals focused on some incorrect decipherments of individual glyphs by Knorozov, as a way of condemning his entire work; Dave Kelley focused on Knorozov's methodology, which he argued in his article was sound, despite some errors of application.
Also published in was "A History of the Decipherment of Maya Script" Kelley cwhich provided a balanced and up-to-date summary of the previous history of the field of Maya hieroglyphic studies. These articles represent the beginning of a much larger work that Dave was preparing: This work was an encyclopedic treatise on what was known about Maya writing up to the early s, and it was by far the best statement made about the various aspects of Maya writing and its decipherment up to that time. While Dave was building his reputation as a hieroglyphic expert, he continued actively to pursue his other research interests.
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