Maths Meets

Myths 2014

ESF Exploratory Workshop

at Coventry University

10-13 September 2014

Telephone:+44 (0)2477658594 or +44 (0)7557425143
Email: r.kenna @
Office:Second floor, Design Hub, TechnoPark,
Coventry University CV1 5FB

Organised by

Ralph Kenna (Coventry) - r.kenna @
Máirín Mac Carron (Galway) - mairin.maccarron @
Pádraig Mac Carron (Oxford) - padraig.maccarron @

Kindly supported by the European Science Foundation mmm

Link to Ralph Kenna's page

Link to pilot Maths Meets Myths workshop (2013)

Link to Titles and abstracts of presentations

Link to registration site (now closed)

Link to the Maths Meets Myths MAP giving useful locations.

Link to a first summaryof the conference.


In recent years, the Applied Mathematics Research Centre, supported by the Leverhulme Trust, has been developing a new, mathematial approach to the analysis of ancient texts. Our first foray into this humanities field focussed on comparative mythology. Our first publication, a pilot study [Pádraig Mac Carron and Ralph Kenna, Universal properties of mythological networks, EPL 99 (2012) 28002], generated enormous interest and impact worldwide, including interviews (e.g., "BBC Radio 4 ) and newspaper articles (e.g., in the "New York Times"). EPL is the flagship publication of the European Physical Society which has 41 national Member Societies, representing over 120,000 members. The paper has been downloaded over 11,000 times so far, a record for the journal.
Subsequent publications have appeared, which also generated a lot of impact [e.g., Network analysis of the íslendinga sögur - the Sagas of Icelanders, European Physical Journal B 86 (2013) 407].
In the past couple of years, we have become aware of excellent work taking place around the world. This includes traditional approaches to comparative mythology, folktales and to epic literature. A significant amount of data as been gathered and we think that these are amenable to new mathematical/statistical/computational approaches. On the latter side, there are new phylogenetic investigations of folktales, quantitative investigations of ancient annals and other fascinating approaches.
We wish, therefore, to deepen and broaden investigations into mythology, annals and folktales. To do this, we need to learn from, and collaborate with experts nationally and internationally. We need people who understand humanities and people who understand the new quantitative approaches. To bring it all together, we will require further funding.
Following on from a successful pilot workshop in 2013, we have secured funding from the European Science Foundation to run a workshop in September 2014. The aim is to bring together natural scientists and humanities scholars to explore the applicability of mathematical sciences to current and past cultures. In particular, we wish to explore quantitative modelling for the understanding of textual narratives. Although for us, mathematics and mythology are where we started (hence the title of the workshop), we also wish to explore how to broaden the scope of the project to other disciplines if that is possible.
An international team is being assembled, including physicists, applied mathematicians, complexity theorists, computer scientists, anthropologists, psychologists, authors, film makers, artists, hisorians, medievalists, and other humanities scholars. A focus of the workshop will be to generate momentum towards obtaining further funding from a suitable source. The aim of such funding will be to support a large scale project over the coming years.

Day Note
Wednesday 10 September Arrival. If you arrive early and would like to talk to Máirín , Pádraig or Ralph, you can find us on the second floor of the Design Hub in the Technology Park. This is the building located behind the Ibis hotel in Coventry Uni's TechnoPark. For directions, follow this link: If you arrive later we will be in The Establishment Bar and Grill from about 7pm to about 9 or 10pm. They serve food up to about 8:45pm. There are plenty of other restaurants nearby.
Thursday 11 September In the evening we will go to Saint Mary's Guild Hall for dinner.
Friday 12 September Those who stay over on the Friday night are welcome to join us for dinner at the Blue Bistro. We will go to a pub afterwards.

The conference will be held in the TechnoPark in the Simulation Centre, indicated by a green pin on the map. We will put up signs pointing the way. Ralph's mobile number is 07557425143.


The following is the schedule for presentations:

    Time         Thursday 11 September         Friday 12 September    
    08:30 - 09:00         Refreshments on arrival                   
    09:00 - 09:15         Coventry Welcome (Ralph Kenna)         Refreshments on arrival           
    09:15 - 09:30         ESF Welcome (Mats Gyllenberg)            
    Chair         Máirín Mac Carron         Pádraig Mac Carron   
    09:30-09:55         Pádraig Mac Carron         David Weiss    
    09:55-10:20         Silvio Dahmen         Daniel McCarthy    
    10:20-10:45         Louise Milne         Maria Magdolna Tátar    
    10:45-11:15         Refreshment break                Refreshment break           
    Chair         Robin Dunbar         Silvio Dahmen    
    11:15-11:40         Julien d'Huy         Robin Dunbar    
    11:40-12:05         Jóhanna Katrín Friðriksdóttir         Máirín Mac Carron    
    12:05-12:30         Jo Story         Olesya Mryglod    
    12:30-14:00         Conference Photo then Lunch                         Lunch                     
    Chair         Jo Story         Louise Milne    
    14:00-14:25         Jamshid Tehrani         Elva Johnston    
    14:25-14:50         Robert Gramsch         Owen Roberson    
    14:50-15:15         Katja Ritari         Emily Lyle    
    15:15-15:40         Stefan Thurner         Refreshments    
    Chair         Yurij Holovatch         Ralph Kenna    
    15:40-17:00         Refreshments + Discussion Forum             Discussion Forum      


The following is the list of participants:

Name University Expertise Dates of Attendance
Professor Silvio Dahmen University of Duisberg-Essen and Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul Mathematics, physics, history of science 10-16 September
Professor Robin Dunbar University of Oxford Evolutionary psychology, anthropology, interdisciplinary 10-12 September
Dr Jóhanna Katrín Friðriksdóttir Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies, Reykjavik and Harvard University Saga literature, eddic heroic poetry and manuscripts 10-13 September
Dr Robert Gramsch University of Jena History, networks 10-13 September
Professor Mats Gyllenberg (ESF Rapporteur) University of Helsinki History, network analysis 10-12 September
Professor Yurij Holovatch Institute for Condensed Matter Physics, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine Physics, mathematics, networks 07-13 September
Dr Julien d'Huy Université Paris-Sorbonne Mythology, Folklore, Archaeology, Phylogenetics 10-13 September
Dr Elva Johnston University College Dublin School Of History & Archives 11-13 September
Professor Ralph Kenna Applied Maths Research Centre, Coventry Mathematics, physics 10-13 September
Dr Emily Lyle University of Edinburgh Mythology 11-13 September
Dr Máirín Mac Carron National University of Ireland, Galway Medieval history, theology 10-13 September
Dr Pádraig Mac Carron Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford Maths, physics, mythological networks 10-13 September
Sean Martin Edinburgh Napier University Author, Filmmaker 10-13 September
Dr Daniel McCarthy Trinity College Dublin Computing, chronology, Irish annals, Paschal tables 10-13 September
Dr Louise Milne Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh, and School of Arts & Creative Industries, Edinburgh Napier University Visual anthropology and comparative mythology 10-13 September
Dr Olesya Mryglod Institute for Condensed Matter Physics, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine Maths, computing 06-14 September
Dr Emer Purcell University College Cork Medieval History, Viking History 10-13 September
Dr Katja Ritari University of Helsinki History, archaeology, theology, other humanites 10-13 September
Dr Owen Roberson University of Leicester Medieval poetry, literary and religious imagery 10-13 September
Professor Jo Story University of Leicester Medieval History 10-11 September
Dr Maria Magdolna Tatár University of Oslo Mythology 10-13 September
Dr Sarolta Tatár Pázmány Peter Catholic University, Doctoral School of History Science, Alumna History, Mythology, Folklore 10-13 September
Dr Jamshid Tehrani University of Durham Phylogenetics, folktales 10-13 September
Professor Stefan Thurner Medical University of Vienna Complexity 11-13 September
Professor David Weiss University of Tübingen Comparative mythology 10-14 September
Joseph Yose Applied Maths Research Centre, Coventry Applied mathematics, networks 10-13 September

Further news stories about our comparative mythology research are located here

Report on mythology project is under construction here

Related Conferences:

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