Familes lived together over 4,000 years ago
Evidence that families lived together as a unit about 4,600 years ago has been unearthed in Germany, at a stone-age burial site. The grave contained the remains of a man, woman and two young people, and using DNA, tests showed that they were a mother, father, and children.
"Their unity in death suggests unity in life," researchers said in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
While tools and remains from the stone age have long been studied, there are few clues to the social relationships between people.
"By establishing the genetic links between the two adults and two children buried together in one grave, we have established the presence of the classic nuclear family in a prehistoric context in Central Europe _ to our knowledge the oldest authentic molecular genetic evidence so far," lead author Wolfgang Haak of the University of Adelaide, Australia, said in a statement.
The researchers studied four multiple burials at Eulau, Saxony-Anhalt, all dated to the same time and containing adults and children carefully buried facing each other.
A few of the skeletons had injuies that showed they could have been attacked, even having defense wounds on the arms and hands.
A second grave beside, also contained three children, two of which were related and a female skeleton that was not their mother.