- Study concludes some folktales are 5,000 to 6,000 years old
- Work relied on knowledge of linguistic groups and dispersion
- The dating of fairy tales has been the subject of spirited debate
London (CNN)Read "Jack and the Beanstalk" to your kids this evening, and you are probably putting them in touch with human sentiments that are thousands of years old.
Same goes if you read them "Beauty and the Beast," or maybe "Rumpelstiltskin."
A new study has found that classic fairy tales may be "much older than previously believed," one of the authors, Jamshid Tehrani of the UK's Durham University, said Wednesday. Tehrani wrote the study with Sara Graca da Silva of the New University of Lisbon, in Portugal.
The dating of fairy tales has long been the subject of spirited debate. Wilhelm Grimm -- who together with his brother, Jacob, popularized in the 19th century many fairy tales that remain favorites today -- believed many were probably thousands of years old. But often they were transmitted only orally, which makes tracking their emergence difficult.