Geek Trivia

The Largest Recorded Family Tree In The World Belongs To The Descendants Of?

Julius Caesar
Genghis Khan
King David
In The Mid-20th Century, Radioactive Material Was Used Successfully In Which Of These Unlikely Applications?

Answer: Confucius

When it comes to big families, there are certainly degrees of size and record keeping. Gengis Kahn, for example, is the great (to the n-th degree) grandfather to millions of people throughout Asia and Russia because of his prolific conquering. A 2003 genetic study of people living within the borders of the former Mongolian empire found that 1 out of every 10 men were descended from Khan and that 1 out of every 200 worldwide most likely are.

But genetic testing does not a meticulously kept family record make. If you want to find the largest family tree ever recorded (and a family tree that is still actively maintained and updated), you must turn your attention to the family tree of Confucius, the Chinese teacher who lived between 551 BC and 479 BC and profoundly influenced Chinese and global culture.

Because of the important role Confucius played, the impact he had, the titles bestowed upon his descendants by subsequent imperial governments, and the excellent record keeping maintained by those descendants, the family name, Kong, has the single longest recorded extant pedigree of any family in the world today. The father-to-son lineage recorded by the Kongs reaches back over 80 generations, and there is even an organization—the Confucius Genealogy Compilation Committee—in charge of maintaining the records. By their count, there are 2 million known and registered descendants of Confucius, and an estimated 3 million if unregistered descendants are factored in.

Image of “The Classic of Filial Piety”/Wikipedia.