Skeletons of 5,000-year-old Chinese ‘giants’ discovered by archaeologists

The people are thought to have been unusually tall and strong

A startling find has been unearthed by archaeologists in China: graves containing the prehistoric remains of a ‘giant’ people who were interred some 5,000 years ago.

The bones were found during an excavation in Shandong Province, in southeast China, and they show at least one male who would have grown to a height of 1.9 meters (6 ft, 3 in), as well as others who measured 1.8 meters (5 ft, 11 in) tall. These individuals would have been giants in their own time, towering over their neolithic contemporaries.

“This is just based on the bone structure,” the head of Shandong University’s school of history and culture, Fang Hui, explained to China’s state-run news agency, Xinhua.

“If he was a living person, his height would certainly exceed 1.9 metres.”

For context, in 2015, the average height of 18-year-old males in the region was 1.753 metres (5 ft, 9 in) tall, according to Xinhua. The national average in 2015 was 1.72 metres (5 ft, 8 in).

In spite of the fact that men at China today would have much easier access to a variety of healthful meals and live in a time when we know a great deal more about nutrition, it appears that modern males in the same region are much shorter than many of these historical forebears.

While the average height in Shandong 5,000 years ago is unknown, European males are estimated to have only reached a height of 1.65 meters (5 feet, 5 inches), making it evident that these so-called “giants” were unusually tall for the time.

Since last year, Fang’s team has been working on the excavation in Jiaojia village in Zhangqiu District, Jinan City, and has discovered the remains of 104 homes as well as 205 burials and 20 sacrificial pits.

The researchers believe that the people of the Longshan culture, which was named after Mount Longshan in Zhangqiu, had decent nourishment to credit for their robust bodies, which is what gave these ancient people such amazing size.

“Already agricultural at that time, people had diverse and rich food resources and thus their physique changed,” Fang told Xinhua.

The giants’ old surroundings provide another hint about their size. The tallest of the males were discovered in larger graves, which may have indicated that they were prominent people of high status who had easier access to wholesome food and a comfortable life.

The layout of the ruins of houses found in the dig also indicates things like separate bedrooms and kitchens – decidedly comfortable conveniences for a village dating back around five millennia, and lending weight to the hypothesis that those living in Jiaojia didn’t have too much to complain about.

Archaeologists also discovered pig bones and teeth, which imply that the locals farmed the animals, along with a variety of vibrant ceramics and jade artefacts, in addition to human remains and building foundations.

The team believes that some of the physical damage to the skeletons and cultural artifacts following the burials may have been done on purpose and may have been driven by politics during a local power struggle.

However, what’s perhaps most exciting about the discovery is just how much more there is to learn about these ancient peoples and their way of life. It’s important to keep in mind that these preliminary findings are only preliminary for the time being and have not yet been peer-reviewed by other scientists.

Only 2,000 square meters of the Jiaojia site have been dug up so far, which is a tiny portion of the whole square kilometer that is supposed to be dug up and studied.

Jiaojia may continue to reveal more mysteries, the details of which are unknown, but it’s likely that we will learn more about how these ancient giants acquired their astounding height – and more besides.

J.R

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