Archaeologists in China have discovered tombs containing the ancient bones of a ‘giant’ people who were buried around 5,000 years ago.
The bones, discovered during an excavation in Shandong Province in south-east China, reveal at least one male individual who stood 1.9 meters (6 feet, 3 inches) tall, as well as others who stood 1.8 meters (5 feet, 11 inches) tall – making them giants in their time who towered over their neolithic contemporaries.
Fang Hui, the director of Shandong University’s faculty of history and culture, emphasized to China’s state-run news agency, Xinhua, that “this is merely based on the bone structure.”
“If he were alive, his height would undoubtedly exceed 1.9 meters.”
According to Xinhua, the average height of 18-year-old boys in the region in 2015 was 1.753 meters (5 ft, 9 in). In 2015, the national average was 1.72 metres (5 ft, 8 in).
So it appears that current males in the same region are much shorter than many of their forefathers, despite the fact that men in China now have far greater access to a variety of healthful meals and live in an era when we know a lot more about nutrition.
While we don’t know for sure how tall the typical person in Shandong 5,000 years ago was, European men of the time are likely to have stood just 1.65 meters (5 feet, 5 inches), indicating that these ‘giants’ were clearly abnormally tall for their day.
Since last year, Fang’s team has been excavating at Jiaojia hamlet in Zhangqiu District, Jinan City, and has discovered the remnants of 205 burials and 20 sacrifice pits, as well as 104 dwellings.
The researchers believe that the inhabitants of the Longshan civilization, which is named after Mount Longshan in Zhangqiu, had wonderful diet to credit for their robust bodies.
“People had diversified and plentiful food resources because they were already agrarian at the time,” Fang told Xinhua.
The ancient surroundings provide further hint to the giants’ size. The tallest of the males were discovered in bigger graves, implying that they were prominent people with great rank who had better access to good food and a nice life.
Separate beds and kitchens are also indicated in the arrangement of the ruins of houses discovered in the excavation – very nice comforts for a community going back roughly five millennia, and giving weight to the theory that those who lived in Jiaojia didn’t have much to complain about.
Archaeologists discovered pig bones and teeth, indicating that the locals farmed the animals, as well as a variety of colorful ceramics and jade artefacts, in addition to human remains and building foundations.
Some of the bones and cultural artifacts show signs of physical damage, which the team believes was done on purpose after the burials and might have been politically motivated in some type of local power struggle.
It’s important to remember that these preliminary discoveries haven’t been peer-reviewed by other scientists yet, but what’s most intriguing about the discovery is how much more there is to learn about these ancient peoples and their way of life.
Only 2,000 square meters of the Jiaojia site have been excavated so far, representing a tiny percentage of the total square kilometer that will be dug up and researched.
Nobody knows what mysteries Jiaojia may reveal in the future, but there’s a decent possibility we’ll learn more about how these ancient giants came to be so massive – and more.
This article was originally published by Science Alert.