Descent from antiquity

Descent From Antiquity

Descent from antiquity

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Descent from Antiquity (DFA) is the project of establishing a well-researched, generation-by-generation descent of living persons from people living in antiquity. It is an ultimate challenge in prosopography and genealogy.

The idea is by no means new. Hellenistic dynasties, such as the Ptolemies, claimed descent from gods and legendary heroes. In the Middle Ages, major royal dynasties of Europe sponsored compilations claiming their descent from Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, in particular the rulers of Troy (see also British Israelism, Euhemerism). Such claims were intended as propaganda glorifying a royal patron by trumpeting the antiquity and nobility of his ancestry. These descent lines included not only mythical figures but also stretches of outright fiction, much of which is still widely perpetuated today. The distinguishing feature of a DFA compared to such efforts is the intent to establish an ancestry that is historically accurate and verifiable. Nevertheless, DFA research still focuses on the ancestries of royal and noble families, since the historical record is most complete for such families.

The possibility of establishing a DFA as a result of serious genealogical research was raised in a pair of influential essays, by the Albany Herald, Sir Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk, and the late Garter King of Arms, Sir Anthony Wagner. Wagner explored the reasons why it was difficult to do, and suggested several possible routes, based on the work of genealogists...
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