Researchers in China have uncovered the skeletal remains of an unusually tall group of individuals who lived in China’s province some 5,000 years ago during the excavation of a 5000-year-old archaeological site.
The archaeological dig at Jiaojia Villiage near Jinan City’s Zhangqiu District in Shandong. It is thought to have been a political, economic and cultural centre in its time with 104 houses, 205 graves and 20 sacrificial pits being unearthed. Among the homes, graves and sacrificial pits, various amounts of pottery and jade were found as well as several artefacts from the Longshan Culture, which was renowned for its eggshell black pottery, from the Neolithic period. The archaeological dig, which began last year, is being led by the University of Shandong.
What makes this find so interesting, is that the skeletons suggest that these ancient people were freakishly tall – with most of the males reaching the height of 1.8 metres tall and above. One of the men in the ancient burial ground measured 1.9m tall – making him a ‘giant’ of his day! “This is just based on the bone structure. If he was a living person his height would certainly exceed 1.9 meters,” Fang Hui, head of Shandong University’s school of history and culture, told China Daily.
Now, these heights aren’t completely abnormal heights in the western world, but if you had to compare it to the average height of the men living in the region today, you’ll see a remarkable difference. Nowadays, the average height of men aged 18 in the region is 1.753m tall, and China’s national average is 1.72m.
Their unusual height was probably the consequence of both genetics and the environment. Fang Hui explained that this Neolithic civilisation engaged in agriculture, so the villagers had access to a diverse array of nutritious and rich foods, such as millet and pork and as a result, their physique changed.
What is interesting to note is that the tallest Longshan men were found in tombs which suggest that the larger the man, the better access to food and the higher the social status was. One can only assume that the surplus of high-quality proteins and the fact that there was a low population density in the area meant that it created favourable conditions which lead to the selection of incredibly tall males.
Until more facts and details emerge, we may never know the real reason that the Longshan people were so tall, but given that humans have never been taller than they are today, these ancient people were most certainly a sign of things to come.