Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Oldest Known Family Tree

From PennLive:

The world’s oldest known family tree has been revealed.

Researchers managed to pinpoint this ancient generation via hefty DNA analysis of individuals who lived roughly 5,700 years ago.

Conducted and published mainly by researchers at Newcastle University in England, the study highlights how DNA was extracted from the bones and teeth of 35 skeletons lying in Neolithic tombs (also referred to as “cairns”) at Hazelton North located in the country’s southwestern region.

From there, the group of archaeologists were able to confirm that 27 out of the 35 were related, making this family the oldest example of multiple generations entombed together.

Even the layout of the tomb was shown to have significance with regards to genealogical connections: Men were observed to have been buried along with their father and brothers, for example, while women were generally buried with their partners.

Science Daily explains that the study is actually the first of its kind to piece together how families in prehistoric times structured themselves, shining greater light upon what relationships were like back in the Neolithic era.

“This study gives us an unprecedented insight into kinship in a Neolithic community,” says Dr. Chris Fowler, first author and the study’s lead archaeologist. “The tomb at Hazelton North has two separate chambered areas, once accessed via a northern entrance and the other from a southern entrance, and just one extraordinary finding is that initially each of the two halves of the tomb were used to place the remains of the dead from one of two branches of the same family.

Read more here.

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