Wonders of science... miracles through the ages logged on database

POSTGRADUATE students at Sheffield University have launched an online catalogue which aims to chart how miracles have occurred throughout the ages.

The aim of the project, which was led by masters students

Simon Lax and Hannah Probert from the history department, was to transform the extensive number of miracle recordings in medieval texts into a quantitative format.

The database of more than 600 miracles, spanning three continents and 800 years of history, will enable people to explore possible links between each record, including patterns between the saints bestowing the miracles, where miracles occurred and the outcome of each miracle.

A university spokesman said: "For medieval historians, miracles are one of the defining features of the European Middle Ages and are often seen as the period's commitment to Christianity.

"They distinguish medieval society from the later, and more sceptical post-Reformation world. The project has provided the first central resource, documenting how miracles have changed over time and enabling the public tofreely search and connect miracles."

Ms Probert added: "The project has demonstrated the possibility of using databasing, graphing and mapping technologies as a way of exploring complex qualitative data, therefore modernising the way in which we interact with history. The database has offered fresh insights into the ways in which we can not only use technological developments to gain insights into medieval society, but also use these developments to represent history in new way."