Every two years since 2006, the National University of Ireland in Galway has hosted a big international conference dedicated to ‘computistical science’ in the Middle Ages. (Usually supported by IBM, believe it or not). The line-up for this year’s conference has just been announced – in full below – and, quite frankly, it looks just as intense as you’d imagine: a heady brew of maths, numerical patterns, astronomy, manuscript studies and long-distance cultural exchanges.

As I think I’ve said before on here, ‘computistical science’ is one of the areas of research in which genuinely new and exciting discoveries seem to be being made on a regular basis. Immo Warntjes, in particular, has proven that it is possible to unearth major new texts for the period, if one only pays attention to the details and ‘returns’ to the manuscripts. I’ve tried this a few times and never with Immo’s great success, it has to be said, but at least behind my innocuous title below lies the tale of snippets of lost Irish scientific texts in Italian manuscripts, largely ignored for centuries because they weren’t chronicles or anything reassuringly mainstream

Immo Warntjes
Immo Warntjes

Some people will tell us that we shouldn’t use terms like ‘science’ to describe the material that we have. Indeed, a historian of modern science in the States once got quite insistent about the matter. Sometimes this is because of the feeling that only ‘modern science’ deserves the name. Sometimes it is because of ignorance: a friend of mine once proposed a research project on unedited scientific materials but was told that there weren’t any, to which she mutely responded ‘yes there is – it’s just the texts are unedited’. Hopefully Galway’s meeting in the Summer will continue to provide ample material to back her up on this!

The course of the Sun, Moon and Planets
The course of the Sun, Moon and Planets

Provisional List of Speakers for “G14” in July:

1.  Jacopo Bisagni— A newly-discovered (Irish?) copy of the Sphere of Life and Death

2.  Charles Burnett — The Abacista, companion to the Computista

3.  Michał Choptiany — Late 17th-century Cracow manuscripts of computus
(Cracow, Jagiellonian Library MS 3377 and Warsaw, National Library MS 9102 II)

4.  Luciana Csaki — Something Old and Something New: An Insular twist on the Roman Easter Prologue of AD 395

5.  Ivana Dobcheva — Were computistae stargazers? The shared readership of computistics and star catalogues, with a special emphasis on Aratea manuscripts

6.  Christian Etheridge — The Venerable Bede in a 12th-century Icelandic context; from discoverer of Iceland to computistical authority

7.  Robert Gallagher — The intellectual context of the ‘Metrical Calendar of Hampson’

8.  David Ganz —Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, MS. F 60 sup. An 8th-Century Irish compendium

9. Tony Harris — The Language of Medieval Computus and the Surprising Vocabulary of Aelfric’s De Temporibus Anni

10.  Leofranc Holford-Strevens — The computistical fragment in Brussels, KBR 10127–44 (s. viii ex.), fols 80r–82r

11.  David Howlett — Dicuill on Astronomy

12.  Alfred Lohr — Computus und Computer. Prinzipien und Methoden bei der Edition der Computi von Abbo, Gerland, Roger von Hereford und Constabularius

13.  Máirín Mac Carron — The Origins of Bede’s Anno Mundi Dating

14.  Dan McCarthy — Changing Perspectives on the Paschal Tract of Anatolius, Bishop of Laodicea

15.  Alden Mosshammer — A neglected Iberian Computus: Paris, BNF Lat. 609

16.  Michael Norris — Digital Resources and the Classification of the Manuscripts of Bede’s De natura rerum

17.  C.E. Philipp Nothaft — Arabic Science and Natural Computus in 12th-Century England: Compotus Constabularii and Roger of Hereford

18.  Masako Ohashi — The date of Bishop Wilfrid’s death

19.  James Palmer — Irish Computistics in 8th-Century Lombardy

20.  Susan Rankin — Remembering the kalendar, singing Nonae Aprilis

21. Wesley Stevens — Numerals in the Earliest Dionysian Tables

22. Urich Voigt — An Analysis of the Two 532-Year Cycles

23. Immo Warntjes — Hermannus Contractus and the Revolution of Computus in the Twelfth Century