In his long study, Nikolai Zak, researcher in mathematics at Moscow university has put forward several arguments to prove that Jeanne Calment wasn't the world's oldest woman, who died at the age of Zak, supported by the gerontologist Valeri Novosselov, studied biographies, interviews, photos, the archives from the southern French city of Arles where Calment lived, and testimonials of people who knew her. His theory establishes that Jeanne Calment died from pleurisy in , instead of her only daughter Yvonne, which was the version of the story at the time.
Zak also points to discrepancies in the height of Jeanne Calment as an old lady. He cites the thesis of Doctor Garoyan who studied the evolution of Jeanne Calment's height over a period of time. According to him, at the age of , Jeanne was 1,50m which was only two centimetres less than her height at age This pattern of inheritance is also reported for many Fulbe villages in the Republic of Guinea,  though it seems that in past times the eldest son inherited all in Guinea.
Sometimes inheritance customs do not entirely reflect social traditions.
Romans valued sons more than daughters, and Thais and Shan showed the reverse pattern, though all practiced equal land inheritance between all children. The Shan people, who live mostly in northern Thailand and northeastern Myanmar, are markedly matrilocal. In Han Chinese tradition, the eldest son was of special importance. The law punished more harshly offences by a younger brother against an elder brother than vice versa.
Among Mongols it has been usually stated that the youngest son had a special position because he cared for his parents in their old age. On their death he inherited the parental tent, which was connected with the religious cult in Mongol traditions, though all sons received more or less equal shares of livestock as they married. However, in contrast to this popularly held notion, more rigorous and substantiated anthropological studies of kinship and family in central Asian peoples strongly indicate that in these societies elder sons and their lines of descent had higher status than younger sons and their lines of descent.
In central Asia, all members of a lineage were terminologically distinguished by generation and age, with senior superior to junior. The lineage structure of central Asia had three different modes: genealogical distance, or the proximity of individuals to one another on a graph of kinship; generational distance, or the rank of generation in relation to a common ancestor; and birth order, the rank of brothers in relation to each another. Of the various collateral patrilines, the senior in order of descent from the founding ancestor, the line of eldest sons, was the most noble.
In the steppe, no one had his exact equal; everyone found his place in a system of collaterally ranked lines of descent from a common ancestor. Among Arabic peoples, it is sometimes argued that the expansion of Islam brought an end to the sharp distinction between the firstborn and other sons so characteristic of ancient Semitic peoples.
Most non-Arab Muslims historically followed their own inheritance customs, not those of the Sharia.
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In India, inheritance customs were and still are very diverse. Patrilineal primogeniture predominated in ancient times. The Laws of Manu state that the oldest son inherits all of the father's estate. The practice of widow inheritance by younger brothers has been observed in many parts of Africa and the Asian steppe, as well as small zones of South Asia. This practice forces younger brothers to marry older women. The patrilineal joint-family systems and more or less equal inheritance for all son in India and China meant that there was no difference in marriage and reproduction due to birth order.
In the stem-family systems of Northwest Europe however, access to marriage and reproduction wasn't equal for all sons, since only one of them would inherit most or all of the land. The survival and well-being of children in India and China is positively influenced by the number of older siblings of the opposite sex and negatively influenced by the number of older siblings of the same sex. The Han Chinese first sons historically married earlier, had lower rates of definitive celibacy and more children especially males than their younger brothers.
However, they suffered higher mortality rates. This has been attributed to the fact that eldest sons needed to have more children to succeed them as heads and were willing to take more risks and suffer a higher drain of resources to achieve this. According to Emmanuel Todd and others, it be reminiscent of the system of patrilineal primogeniture prevalent during the Longshan culture period and the period of the Three Dynasties.
There is a strong relationship between fertility and inheritance in "Malthusian" contexts of resource scarcity. In contexts where resources are plentiful, the relationship between inheritance and social outcomes can be different. In the Midwest and Northeast United States during the period from to , where resources were plentiful, being the first son was positively correlated with wealth and fertility. As in other western cultures, but unlike European societies where resources were scarce, this has a complex relationship with inheritance. Inheritance practices and seniority of patriline, as well as the importance of inheritance itself, have varied over time among the Lisu.
This was mostly in response to changes in resource availability and poppy cultivation. In the United States, daughters currently inherit on average more than sons. During the Colonial Period, the eldest son inherited twice more than the other sons in the northern colonies these inheritance laws were modelled on Mosaic Law , and in the southern colonies there was a rule of male primogeniture.
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In northern Ghana, a region where male primogeniture predominates, rich households favoured sons over daughters. It is likely that first born sons would have been preferred as they would inherit the wealth and therefore have higher reproductive prospects. In recent times inheritance in the western world has generally been egalitarian despite parents showing favoritism towards daughters and later-born sons. Customs of ultimogeniture among farmers has been explained as a consequence of postponing retirement so they do not feel "dethroned" early by their eldest son.
This line of thinking has been linked to the preeminence of lastborn siblings in popular myth and folklore around the world.
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As a consequence, in some cultures that practice male preimogentiure there are ambiguous, contradictory feelings towards last born sons. Among the Hausa of West Africa, who practice primogeniture, the mother and oldest son engage in mutual avoidance behavior to mark the woman's positive change in status upon producing an heir.
The father may also avoid the son if he is the mother's first male child, speaking to him through intermediaries rather than directly. Among the Mossi of central Burkina Faso in West Africa, the eldest son would be sent to relatives shortly after circumcision and return to the parental household shortly after puberty; after the death of his father he would inherit his property.
A study of the people of the Pacific island Tikopia in found that the eldest son must marry and receive more land, while the younger sons remain bachelors, emigrate or even die. In some societies in Sub-Saharan Africa where male primogeniture was practiced, tensions between parents and their inheriting eldest son were resolved through rituals of avoidance. This was most extreme among the Tallensi. Among East Asian peoples, on the other hand, co-residence between parents and their eldest son was thought of as normal and desirable in systems of impartible inheritance, and in some countries such as Japan, Vietnam and South Korea it is widely practiced even nowadays.
In Japan, Korea and Vietnam, as well as in some of those European regions where male primogeniture was practiced, parents didn't transfer their property to the inheriting son at the point of his marriage as among Germans. Instead, the first son remained under his father's authority even after he had married and had had children, and the father remained the nominal head of the family until his death, relinquishing his actual authority slowly and gradually. In Japan, only the inheriting son stayed in the parental household. He could become head of the family any time between his marriage and the death of his predecessor.
The timing of this was normally dictated by familial or local traditions. In rural China, property and landholdings are usually divided up when the older son marries. Normally the youngest son continues to live with the parents and inherits their remaining share of the property. Prior to the revolution in , most families in rural areas of China stayed together for many years after the oldest son marries, sometimes until the youngest son married. In Israel, coresidence between parents and their eldest son prevails in the context of the Moshav movement, that prohibited breaking up family plots; thus the eldest son inherits the family farm.
In South Korea, modern businesses chaebol are handed down according to male primogeniture in most cases. Employing differing forms of succession can affect many areas of society. Gender roles are profoundly affected by inheritance laws and traditions. Impartible inheritance has the effect of keeping large estates united and thus perpetuating an elite. With partible inheritance large estates are slowly divided among many descendants and great wealth is thus diluted.
Inheritance customs can even affect gender differences in cognitive abilities. Among the Karbis , who employ male primogeniture, men perform significantly better than women in tasks of spatial abilities. There are no significant differences in the performance of men and women among the Khasis, who employ female ultimogeniture. The degree of acceptance that a society may show towards an inheritance rule can also vary.
In South Africa, for example, the influence of more modern, western social ideas has caused strong opposition, both civil and official, to the customary law of patrilineal primogeniture traditionally prevalent among black peoples, and inheritance customs are gradually changing. Among the indigenous tribes of South Africa, the oldest son inherits after the death of the father.
Historical inheritance systems - Wikipedia
If the oldest son is also dead, the oldest surviving grandson inherits; if the eldest son has no sons, the inheritance is passed to the father's second son or his sons, and so on through all the sons and their male children if necessary. In polygynous families which were formed of multiple units, the inheritance rules were changed slightly. Each marriage formed a new unit, independent from the others, with separate property which was inherited by the heir of each unit. Polygynous families practised either simple or complex inheritance.
In the simple system the heir is the eldest son of the first wife, of if he is dead, the eldest grandson. If the first wife had no sons, the inheritance went to the oldest surviving male descendant of the second wife, and so on through all the wives if necessary. Complex inheritance happened when the homestead was separated into two or three units, depending on the number of wives, and the eldest son of each wife became heir of their unit.
If there was no heir in one of the units, the heir of the other inherited both. This form of inheritance was seen among the Xhosa people of south eastern South Africa. In Lesotho and southern Ethiopia, most people still follow the custom of male primogeniture. In Ghana, the diverse inheritance customs across ethnic groups, such as the male primogeniture among the Ewe and the Krobos, or matrilineal inheritance among the Akan , contribute to the occurrence of children living in the streets.
In , in more than half Social transformations can also modify inheritance customs to a great extent. For example, the Samburu of north-central Kenya are pastoralists who have traditionally practiced an attenuated form of patrilineal primogeniture, with the eldest son receiving the largest share of the family herd and each succeeding son receiving a considerably smaller share than any of his seniors. Most of the Amhara in Ethiopia divide their property between all sons, however male primogeniture is practised in some regions. The right of patrilineal primogeniture, though widespread during medieval and modern times in Europe, doesn't seem to have prevailed so extensively in ancient times.
In Athens, according to Demosthenes and the Laws of Solon, the eldest son inherited the house and with it the cult to family ancestors. He also spoke about the revolts that put an end to it in Massalia, Istros, Heraclea and Cnido. Ancient Greeks also considered the eldest son the avenger of wrongs done to parents—"The Erinyes are always at the command of the first-born". Roman law didn't recognise primogeniture, but in practice Romans favored the eldest son.
Among Celtic and Germanic peoples, the predominant custom during ancient times seems to have been to divide the land in equal parts for each of the sons. However, the house could be left to only one of them. Evidence of actual practices and law codes such as the Sachsenspiegel indicate that Germans left the house to the youngest son.
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