Fairy tales could be 6,000 years old

A 19th-century fairy tale collector said fairy tales were thousands of years old. Scientists now say this is true and that many popular tales could be over 4,000 years old. The oldest known fairy tale, "The Smith and the Devil," dates back 6,000 years to the Bronze Age – a time when humans first started making metal tools. One scientist, Dr Jamshid Tehrani, found that this tale came from an ancient language that dates to around 6,000 years ago.

Dr Tehrani looked at 275 fairy tales. He said: "It's remarkable that these stories have survived so long without being written down." He added that: "They are older than the English language and would have been first told in a language that is now extinct." He said well-known tales, like "Beauty and the Beast," were at least 4,000 years old. He said his research suggests that many fairy tales were told in ancient languages, long before they were written down.