‘Beauty and the Beast’ and stories like it truly are tales as old as time

Disney’s remake of “Beauty and the Beast” comes out March 17, but that fairy tale, like many others, can be traced back thousands of years.

When you think of these popular fairy tales, authors like The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen often come to mind.

Researchers from Durham University in the United Kingdom, however, found that many of these tales began as oral traditions and some are even older than the earliest literary records.

The study, which was published in 2016 in the journal Royal Society Open Science, focused on 275 “Tales of Magic” listed in the Aarne-Thompson-Uther Index. The index is a classification system that is used to group the tales based on similarities. The authors noted that they chose to focus on magic stories because they represent the largest and most widely shared collection of tales.

Sara Graca da Silva and Jamshid Tehrani, the authors of the study, used techniques employed by biologists to trace the links between languages and stories.

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