PROJECT

on

COMPARATIVE MYTHOLOGY

Brief description

The Harvard Asia Center has sanctioned a three-year collaborative and interdisciplinary research project on comparative Pan-Asian mythology, organized by M. Puett and M. Witzel. Fifteen local colleagues (so far, from East to West:) are joining in the effort: E. Cranston, R. Gimello, L. van der Kuijp, O. Skjaervo, P.-A. Beaulieu, P. Steinkeller, P. Machinist, W. Heinrichs, G. Nagy, K. Patton, J. Harris, F. Marlowe, H. Fleming (BU), and L. Sullivan.

Aims

* comparison of complete systems of local and regional mythologies, not --as customary-- a comparison of individual myths.

* establishing the underlying patterns of Pan-Asian mythology, especially those of cosmogony.

Plan

This is a three year project (2003-6):
*1st year: a pilot program in comparative mythology. We will concentrate on establishing some baselines, starting from a proposal made in Mother Tongue VI, 2001 that provides the outline of reconstructed, early pan-(Eur)Asian mythology. Summary

* 2nd, 3rd year: extensive interdisciplinary work with geneticists, linguists and archaeologists. Ongoing work indicates emerging regional and pan-continental patterns, connections and exchanges reflecting the early settlement of Eurasia and patterns of early mythical thought, before and after the African exodus.
 

Procedure and Meetings

Cooperation by specialists in various languages and cultures is absolutely necessary as to avoid the numerous mistakes commonly made due to lack of background in the fields involved. We envision regular cooperation, and substantiation by repeated testing.



2003: FIRST Planning Meeting, Oct. 10: 2003

SECOND Planning Meeting:  Dec. 1, 2003

THIRD Meeting:  Paul-Alain Beaulieu: on Old Mesopotamian mythology  (Dec. 15 2003)

FOURTH Meeting:   Oktor Skjaervo: on Old Iranian mythology  (Jan. 30 2004)

FIFTH Meetings: Micael Witzel: on Old Indian and Japanese mythology (March 2004)

SIXTH Meeting:  Michael Puett: on Old Chinese mythology and ritual  (April 2004)

SEVENTH Meeting: Harvard Round Table (mythology section):  May 11-12, 2004

2005: Seventh Harvard Round Table (Kyoto, RHIN) : June 8, 2005

2006: Eighth Harvard Roudn Table: International Conference on Comparative Mythology (Peking University, Beijing) May 10-13, 2006 (program; abstracts)

2007: Tenth Harvard Round Table: The Deep History of Stories. International Conference on Comparative Mythology, Edinburgh, Scotland. August 28-30, 2007

2008: International Association for Comparatiove Mythology, registered in Massachusetts


Materials

* links to web sites with translations of  mythological texts

* published paper:  Vala and Iwato. Tne myth of the Hidden Sun in Old India, Japan and beyond, EJVS 12-1, March 2005

* Conference volume of the 2006 meeting: T. Osada (ed.).  Proceedings of the Pre-Symposium of RHIN and 7th ESCA Harvard-Kyoto Round Table. Published by the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RHIN), Kyoto, Japan  2006

* Conference vols. of the Beijing and Edinburgh meetings are in preparation
 
 

Conferences

We plan conferences each year, in conjunction with the yearly interdisciplinary Round Tables on Ethnogenesis in South & Central Asia, held in mid May since 1999. We have gradually expand our "audience" beyond the Harvard/Boston area and will invite international colleagues in the special areas that we will focus on, from philology to genetics.

2004 conference, May 8-10,  Cambridge MA; details here.

2005 conference  (Kyoto, RHIN), June 8-10, details here

2006: Eighth Harvard Roudn Table: International Conference on Comparative Mythology (Peking University, Beijing) May 10-13, 2006 (program; abstracts)

2007: Tenth Harvard Round Table: The Deep History of Stories. International Conference on Comparative Mythology, Edinburgh, Scotland. August 28-30, 2007  program

2008: Eleventh Harvard Round Table: Second  International Conference on Comparative Mythology, Ravenstein, The Netherlands

Department link