Monday, July 1, 2013
How's Your Ahnentafel ?
That’s the kind of question I have to cope with from my grandson, now in his last year at school studying maths and physics. I’ve even deserted my Iain Banks & Lee Child books in favour of Brian Greene, “The Hidden Reality” (well hidden indeed for a pensioner), to try and repair our communications!
In the latter book the author always chooses the difficile word (see, it’s catching), so in recent genealogy correspondence when “Ahnentafel” was mentioned I thought 'here we go again; or have I missed a village near Dumfries where I was born' ?
As it turns out, I should have known about an “Ahnentafel”, being a keen genealogist, everybody in the Society should know, so here goes, with the explanation.
An “Ahnentafel” is a German word for “ancestor table” and is a list of one’s ancestors, so constructed, that it is easy to calculate the various relationships.
The first “Ahnentafel” was published by Michael Eytzinger in 1590 - see the illustration. He was an Austrian historian and the same numbering system is sometimes called the “Sosa-Stradonitz System” named after the Spanish and German genealogists, Jerome de Sosa (1676) and Stephan Kekule von Stradonitz (1896).
In an “Ahnentafel” numbering system the base person is assigned the number one. The father of each person is assigned a number equal to double the child’s number. The mother of each person is assigned a number equal to double the child’s number plus one. As a result, the number of any child is one- half that of their parent, ignoring any remainder.
Apart from the subject, who can be male or female, all even-numbered persons are male and all odd-numbered persons are female. Please no sexist comments!
For the first four generations, the numbers assigned a given person and their ancestors reflect the following relationships.
1. Person 1
2. Father 10
3. Mother 11
4. Paternal grandfather 100
5. Paternal grandmother 101
6. Maternal grandfather 110
7. Maternal grandmother 111
8. Great-grandfather 1000 father’s father’s father
9. Great-grandmother 1001 father’s father’s mother
10. Great-grandfather 1010 father’s mother’s father
11. Great-grandmother 1011 father’s mother’s mother
12. Great-grandfather 1100 mother’s father’s father
13. Great-grandmother 1101 mother’s father’s mother
14. Great-grandfather 1110 mother’s mother’s father
15. Great-grandmother 1111 mother’s mother’s mother
For the binary write down the digit “1”, this represents the subject, and, writing from left to right write “0” for each father and “1” for each mother in the relation, ending with the ancestor of interest.
The result will be the binary representation of the ancestor’s “Ahnentafel” number.
As the example above, great-grandmother No.15 = 1111
To simplify your calculation of the conversion, in “Google”, type in, 15 to binary, to get the answer 1111 etc.
As they say in all the best books; for the “mathematically inclined reader” there are a number of websites where you can study the full application.
I just want to bring this “Ahnentafel” system to your attention.
This is a guest blog by Strath Stewart.