William E. Gates

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William E. Gates
Born (1863-12-08)December 8, 1863
Atlanta, Georgia
Died April 24, 1940(1940-04-24) (aged 76)
Education Johns Hopkins University; law degree, University of Virginia
Employer Archaeology Commission of the Maryland Academy of Science, Carnegie Institution for Science, Republic of Guatemala, archaeology department, American Indian Defense Association, Tulane University
Known for Researching Mayan language hieroglyphs; speaking at least 13 languages
Parents Katherine Appley and William H. Gates
Relatives Grandfather, Horatio Gates
For the magazine publisher William E. Gates, see Midnight Engineering.

William Edmond Gates (December 8, 1863 – April 24, 1940)[1] was an American Mayanist. Most of his research focused around Mayan language hieroglyphs. He also collected Mesoamerican manuscripts.[2] Gates studied Mayan based languages like Yucatec Maya, Ch'olti', Huastec and Q'eqchi'.[3] Biographies state that he could speak at least 13 languages. Works and archives related to Gates reside in the collections of Brigham Young University.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Gates was born in 1863 in Atlanta, Georgia. His parents were Katherine Appley and William H. Gates. Gates' grandfather was Horatio Gates. Gates attended school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He attended Johns Hopkins University and University of Virginia. He graduated in 1886 with a law degree. The following year he moved to Cleveland, Ohio. He ran a printing company.[4]

Mayan studies[edit]

In 1898 he bought a copy of the Codex Troano. This triggered his interest in Mayan culture. In 1900 he retired from his work in printing. He relocated to San Diego, California. He became involved in theosophy. He moved to a theosophy colony called the Aryan Theosophical Colony. It was located in Point Loma, a neighborhood of San Diego. He started teaching antiquities at the colony college. While teaching, he researched and published about Mayan culture and language. He started building his own collection of Mayan documentation, including manuscripts and photographs of manuscripts. By 1910 he had published the Paris Codex. Two years later, he started exploring how comparing different Mayan languages could help make further discoveries about Mayan hieroglyphs.[4]

He started, and served as president of, the Maya Society at Philadelphia in 1920. He started working for the Archaeology Commission of the Maryland Academy of Science as a consultant. The following year he became a researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science. He discovered a monument dating from 120 BC in on while on a trip in Guatemala. This is credited with solidifying that the Mayan culture was older than originally thought. In 1922, he started working for the Republic of Guatemala as director-general of their archaeology department. He was also the director of the archaeology museum there. Gates was living in Charlottesville, Virginia and traveled to Guatemala, too. After one visit in 1922 he returned to Charlottesville with a K'iche' man he had met. In Charlottesville, Gates studied the K'iche' language using a wave writer.[4]

In 1924, Gates became director of the American Indian Defense Association. That year, Tulane University bought half of his Mayan archives. He also started working for Tulane in their Middle American Research department. Gates would, by 1930, sell his farm in Charlottesville, allowing him to sustain his research. He published the first and only issue of the Mayan Society in 1930 through Tulane. It was received poorly by faculty at Tulane and never published again. Gates also published various codexs, including the Dresden Codex and Madrid Codex. He was also highly active in developing education and land policies while working for the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1934.[4]

Later life and legacy[edit]

Princeton University acquired the other half of Gates Mayan archives in 1936. The following year, Gates relocated to Washington, D.C. He worked at the Library of Congress and published three editions of A Grammar of Maya in 1938. Gates died in Baltimore, Maryland in 1940.[4]

Works by and collections once owned by Gates are held in the collections of Brigham Young University.[4]

Published works[edit]

Gates' published works include:

Further reading[edit]

  • de Landa, Diego. With notes by William E. Gates. Yucatan Before and After the Conquest. Mineola: Dover Publications. ISBN 0486236226
  • Gates, William. An Aztec Herbal: The Classic Codex of 1552. Mineola: Dover Publications (2000). ISBN 0486411303
  • Gates, William. An outline dictionary of Maya glyphs, with a concordance and analysis of their relationships : with the author's "Glyph studies" reprinted from the Maya Society quarterly. New York: Dover Publications (1978). ISBN 0486236188
  • Gates, William. Commentary Upon the Maya-Tzental Perez Codex with a Concluding Note Upon the Linguistic Problem of the Maya Glyphs. (1910)

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ Date information sourced from Library of Congress Authorities data, via corresponding WorldCat Identities linked authority file (LAF) .
  2. ^ "Yucatán en el tiempo", Casares G. Cantón, Raúl; Juan Duch Colell; Michel Antochiw Kolpa; Silvio Zavala et ál; 1998; ISBN 970-9071-04-1; Mérida, Yucatán
  3. ^ "Map of the Mayance Nations and Languages". World Digital Library. 1934. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "MSS 279; Biography of William E. Gates". 20th & 21st Century Western & Mormon Americana. L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 

External links[edit]