National Maths Week 2012

Two Talks as part of National Maths Week – October 15th – 21st

by Dr Frank Prendergast at the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre

Wednesday October 17th at 2.00pm

Dr Frank Prendergast talks on

‘Maths, Megaliths and Ancient Monuments – Discover our Prehistoric Past'

Suitable for 2nd level and 3rd level students and the general public.

Wednesday October 17th 8.00pm.

Dr Frank Prendergast talks on

‘The Mathematics behind the Iron Age Enclosure at Lismullin'

Suitable for the general public
No pre-booking necessary

Talk on complexities of megalithic sites.

Report on the talk by Dick Ahlstrom The Irish Times - 18th October 2012

Archaeology, astronomy and mathematics all converge when it comes to Ireland's megalithic tombs. The prehistoric architects of monuments such as Newgrange took great care in building and aligning these structures, leaving many questions to be answered by modern-day researchers.

The complexities of these sites were discussed yesterday at the Brú na Bóinne visitor centre where the Office of Public Works hosted two Maths Week talks by Dr Frank Prendergast of Dublin Institute of Technology.

Dr Prendergast is based in the College of Engineering and the Built Environment but his main role is as an archaeoastronomer. He studies these early sites to try to identify hidden mathematical complexity in their construction and orientation or alignments with the stars or our sun.

“We are dealing with a huge number of sites,” he told students from O'Carolan College in Nobber, Co Meath, and Gormanston College in Gormanston, Co Meath, who attended his talk yesterday afternoon. There are at least 1,500 but only 20 or so are the famous passage tombs as at Newgrange, Dowth and Knowth.

“I look at these sites from an astronomical perspective,” he said after the talk.

He talked about the history of these sites with the portal, court and passage tombs dating back to between 3,500 BC and 2,500 BC. The Bronze Age wedge tombs were somewhat later, about 2,200, he said.

He published a research paper this year on the “Lismullin Enclosure”, an important early Iron Age site revealed as construction got under way on the M3 motorway across Co Meath. Dating back to between 450 BC and 350 BC, Lismullin is a hugely important site given its complexity, he said.

It was assembled with extreme care and did not feature tombs. “Lismullin is now regarded by archaeologists as a pagan ritual site,” Dr Prendergast said.

National Maths Week 2012

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