Monday, Nov. 03, 2008

First Family

Americans may boast of family values, but they've got nothing on the folks of Saxony-Anhalt in central Germany. That's the home region of what might be the most traditional — or at least the oldest — nuclear family ever uncovered. Researchers there excavated 4,600-year-old graves of a group of Stone-Agers who appeared to have been killed together in a raid — judging from the defensive wounds many of them bore and the projectile point embedded in the vertebra of one female. Among the remains was a foursome interred together — an adult male and female and two boys, one of them 8 to 9 years old, the other 4 to 5. Analyzing molecular DNA evidence, the investigators confirmed what the tableau suggested: This was a family. Certainly this is not the oldest one that ever existed, but merely the oldest ever unearthed. Still, for now it is, to scientists at least, the true First Family.