Padraig Mac Carron and Professor Ralph Kenna, members of the AMRC, have recently published a paper titled “Network Analysis of the Islendinga Sogur – the Sagas of Icelanders“. This work appears in the European Physical Journal B (EPJ B), a couple of month after the workshop “Maths Meets Myths” which took place in Coventry University last summer.
The authors presents a study of the collection of literature set taking place in Iceland around the late 9th to early 11th centuries (” Sagas of Icelanders”). The authors used the text to create a graph (a mathematical object) representing the social network of all characters in the sagas. The graph is then submit to a careful network analysis in order to gather informations on the structure of the relationship between characters. This allowed them to compare saga society to other social networks. It is no accident that the authors have decided to submit the Sagas of Icelanders to network analysis. As a matter of fact, the historicity of these stories is a matter of scholarly debate. (A free version of the Paper can also be downloaded here)
If applying network theory to Mythology helps to reach a better understanding of the general structure of the interactions between characters, ultimately we secretly hope that a mathematical analysis of these texts would show a sign, a signature of the historical fact, a clue to distinguish, in these stories, facts from fictions.