Longest confirmed genealogy

Hi. I’m sure there is a thread about this, but I couldn’t find one. So here goes.

All of this talk about this ABC special about Jesus marrying Mary Magdalene and bearing children (the Da Vinci Code business) has got me wondering. What is the longest confirmed bloodline with living relatives? Are there people alive who can trace their families with relative certainty for over 2000 years? How far back do the Royal Houses of Europe trace their ancestry? Any descendants of emperors of old dynasties of China around? I am guessing it is probably a Chinese family as IIRC they are pretty meticulous about these things.

Now, I know that there are a number of factors here – specifically how well confirmed does something have to be in order to claim it as “truth”, etc. And I know there are those making extraordinary claims. I have read some, er, interesting sites (warning, hardcore loony fundamentalism) about Mary Magdalene and Jesus’s children fleeing to the South of France and starting the line of Merovingian kings with relatives into the present. Since Jesus, according to the New Testament, was descended from David, it would seem that this line could stretch back well over 2500 years. Also, some claim the Stone of Scone was brought over to Ireland by the Prophet Jeremiah with the daughters of Zedekiah. Apparently it was previously the rock on which Jacob rested his head and dreamed his little dream. According to these guys, the Stewart Clan of Scotland are descendants of Jesus and are seeking to be enthroned as the new House of David. Who knew that the star of Vertigo was a fractional deity? But there isn’t much mainstream historical evidence to back this up. We start to get into wacky Illuminati land (fnord to be safe) and I want to stay out of wacky Illuminati land.

So what are the longest and best-supported pedigrees on the planet?

I have an old National Geographic somewhere with an Israel article; in the article, a Rebbe or something similar claims direct decendency to the prophet Aaron

Hmmm I was under the impression that the Rabbinical bloodline was broken during the Roman wars. There were secular Jewish princes in Babylon who also claimed Davidic descent – I am unclear what became of these. I believe, perhaps a true rabbinical student can correct me if I am wrong, that there is no true proof of descent nowadays. This has direct consequences, IIRC – no Sanhedrin can be assembled, so the codification of Jewish law has been fixed since the last one in 70 AD or thereabouts.

My father has a book in his shelf, prepared by the Kapole Trust that traces our roots (surname: Doshi) till 800 AD, unbroken. Around 58 generations, IIRC and only the male progeny are mentioned.

Isn’t the Japanese Imperial Family right up there? The current Emperor is the 125th since the legendary Jimmu. Although the existence of hte first fourteen Emperors is uncertain, this site has reign dates going back to 510 AD. Unfortunately the second page of the genealogy is messed up.

It’s not a completely straight line of descent to the current Emperor but its an impressively long list nevertheless.

I imagine royal/noble pedigrees are likely to be the best bet for the OPs search for the longest one. With all that wealth and power at stake, tracing genalogy became pretty importane.

I’m pretty sure the English Royal Families confirmed genealogy must stretch back as far as any. With only a quick 10 mins on Biran Tomsett’s database at the University of Hull (UK) @


I found Egbert, King of Kent born around 775 who as father of Aethelwulf is directly related to our current Queen. His father and grandfathers are both known although their birthdates are not known. Eaba of Wessex’s son though acceded as Under-King of Kent in 784 so his father must have been born not much later than 765, probably earlier.

Scandanavian Royal families might go back earlier but whether they are as well documented, and thus can be regarded as confirmed, I do not know (i.e cannot be bothered to find out!)

THe longevity of the Japanese Imperial Family is also enshrined in their naitonal anthem:

Quite neat really.

According to the Guinness Book of Records (1994 ed.),

Wow! That’s pretty amazing, knocks our Royal Family into the proverbial cocked hat.

I am worried however that your source does not mention any 86th lineal descendants, suggesting Messrs Wei-yi and Wei-ning (aged 63 and 55 respectively) have left having children rather late!!

Don’t tell us after that after the best part of three millennia they have gone and blown it…

And if they have died since your 1994 edition of GBoR then we’ll need to look to the second longest genealogy. :smiley:

The O’Neills of Ulster have evidence sufficient to satisfy Burke’s Peerage of ancestry back into the Irish kingships. This is one of the longest British-Isles lineages.

(“Provable” genealogies are ones that are documentable, link by link, by semi-contemporary evidence – records of birth or baptism, family bibles, etc., showing that A is the child of B and C, B is the child of D and E, D is the child of F and G, and so on. I’m fairly fortunate in having ancestors that do link back to the Middle Ages, and can be proven out with such evidence.)

There are any number of claims that depend on circumstantial evidence; AFAIK nothing provable except Chinese and Irish lines goes back much before 1000 AD except the Carolingian kings, who can be traced back to late Roman times.

Although any of us may have difficulty documenting it, as long as the concept/theory of evolution is adhered to, and as long as common sense is applied, each of us has ancestors that go “all the way back” even if we can’t name them.

The problem with really ancient genealogies is that at some point that become completely mythical – the British family, for instance, used to trace their descent from Odin, and after that tradition became unpopular, they modified a couple of generations to get to Adam instead. The Anglo-Saxon line can be traced to Egbert (reigned 802-839) without problems, and from there his descent from Ceawlin seems pretty sturdy, but after that fact fades into fantasy.

Charlemagne’s oldest documentable ancestors lived in the 700s. Attempts have been made to connect him to the Roman aristocracy, but no verification is provided. The Hellenistic kingdoms of Egypt, Syria, etc. had many descendants traceable for a couple of hundred years, and many attempts have been made to trace from them into the Byzantine Empire. Reconstructions of Pictish lines have been made, but I’d take them with a boulder of salt.

The Japanese genealogy suffers from (a) several dynastic adoptions that make it hard to tell who fathered whom; (b) a lack of contemporary records before the seventh century; and © the fact whole chunks of the early genealogies are entirely mythical.

In Europe, IIRC the longest known genealogy that is half-way verifiable is the genealogies of the Irish kings, which stretch back to the fifth century B.C. before becoming completely legendary.

Add to the problem of tracing European geneologies the issue of forgeries. In the middle ages, in addition to the current sense of fraud, they forged documents to explain or expand on something which people thought was true to begin with. So if your ancestors owned a piece of land as far back as you can remember, you might forge a document “proving” ownership to prevent someone else from forging one to take that land from you. A large portion of medieval documents, both secular and religious, are believed to be forgeries of one type or another.

I always find it funny when I read about so and so tracking his lineage to a nobleman of the early middle ages - that would be like someone a thousand years from now bragging that they are a direct descendant of say, Tony Soprano.

Who cares?

They’re all dead, and nobody alive remembers them… not really.

Wat we got here are attempted claims of genetic superiority based on nepotism.

Through DNA testing scientists at Oxford found a man who is a blood related to “Cheddar Man”, a 9,000 year old skeleton who was found in a cave. He doesn’t have an unbroken line though, and probably not a direct descendent.