2018 Student Research Conference:
31st Annual Student Research Conference

A Clash of Worlds--Mythic Motifs and Environmental Variables


Phillip A. Dryden
Dr. Amber Johnson, Faculty Mentor

It has long been known that unrelated cultures across the world often share a set of mythic motifs, and scholars have understood these commonalities through various interpretive lenses. It remains mysterious why one set of cultures might share a motif but another would not.  I combined psychoanalytic/mythographic theory with the tools of human macroecology to test for a relationship between environmental variables and a globally widespread creation motif I have termed “Kill the Primal Being.” Statistical analysis revealed that this study group has associations with an effective temperature of 14±1.3°C and a latitude of 40±8N/S that are less random (α=0.05) than would be expected by chance alone.  These are known thresholds separating cultures based on subsistence, food storage, and social structure.   This observation enables me to interpret these myths, as well as the Cain and Abel story in a new light.    

Keywords: myth, environment, motif, variable, ecology, human macroecology

Topic(s):Anthropology
Folklore
Interdisciplinary

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 411-4
Location: VH 1320
Time: 3:15

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