Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Hellenic (Achaean) Height   posted by Razib @ 10/12/2005 03:45:00 PM

Since we've talked about height on this blog before, I thought the following might interest some...from The Aegean Bronze Age:

All the large samples have produced very similar averages of height...around 1.67 m [about 5'6] for men and 1.55 m [about 5'1] for women, but with a range that in both sexes spreads over 20 cm [a little under 8 inches] around the average...these averages are only half a centimeter lower than in modern Greece....

I don't know if the average for modern Greece is correct, the book dates from 1994, and many works of scholarship often use old data when drawing upon facts from outside of their discipline. Here are height tables for Greek boys and girls, even assuming that Athenians are taller (for whatever reason) than average the comparison to modern (21st century) Greeks is off. But, the legends of tiny ancients go back at least few centuries, so it doesn't exculpate scholars totally.

Here is some more from Mycenaeans:

...The skeletons of aristocrats in Grave Circle B show that the women were 1.58-1.61 [5'2-5'3] tall and the men were 1.61-1.76 m [5'3-5'9] tall, around 6 cm [2.4 inches] taller than commoners.
Zeta 59 [remains of an individual] was also a big man...he was 1.75 m tall [5'9].
Gamma 55 was another big man, 1.76 m tall....

These might not be giants on the march, but they are certainly more substantial than the 5'0 tall roman rankers described to me by one anthropologist. Certainly peasant farmers and (later) urban poor recruits are not necessarily equivalent to aristocratic warriors 1,000 years before their time, but, it suggests that one should take gee-whiz generalizations with a grain of salt.