Today the average height for a male is around 5 ft 10 in (177 cm) and 5 ft 5 in for women (163-164 cm). Race can also affect height with the average for some races being taller and for others a bit shorter. Food intake and disease can also affect height as well as environment.
Humans have not always been these average heights. In paleoanthropology we use fossils to calculate the heights of some of our ancient human ancestors. The femur (thighbone) is the most useful bone for making such determinations as it typically composes about 1/4 of human height and is the longest bone in the human body.
Using femur bones and other bones we have been able to estimate height in some of our ancient ancestors. For instance, Homo heidelbergensis lived around 700-200 kya and we estmate males stood an average of 5 ft 9 in tall with females being slightly shorter standing on average 5 ft 2 in tall.
The “Hobbit” (aka: Homo Floresiensis) lived between 95-17 kya and were much shorter. A female skeleton from this species of ancient human ancestor reveals she stood slightly over 3 ft.
Neanderthals who lived between 200-28 kya had an average height of 5 ft 5 in for males and 5 ft 1 in for females. Most paleoanthropologists believe their short, stocky body type helped them stay warm and survive the harsh ice ages they lived through. Continue Reading
When I was a child I used to tag along with my father on hunting trips and we would sometimes come across Indian ruins. As a child I was amazed that some of the ruins were those of little houses and I couldn’t figure out how adults could live in them until one day my father explained to me that people back then were smaller than people today. Suddenly, the little ruins all made sense to me! Yes it was a “revelation” to me lol 🙂
Bes, the ancient Egyptian dwarf god
What I didn’t know at the time was just how little some of these ancient people actually were. Anthropologist and Author Dr Susan Martinez has written about the little people in one of her books entitled, “The Lost History of the Little People.” This is actually an amazing book for the study of the little people as she covers them all over the world. This brings me to the subject of this post and the little people found in Iran.
Back in August of 2005 a tiny mummified body was unearthed in the ancient Persian village known as “Makunik.” Persia is the name modern Iran used to be called. The discovery caused an international sensation and researchers who examined the mummified remains concluded it was the remains of an adolescent dwarf. But this was not the only thing found because excavations at the site of the village revealed what appeared to be the ruins of an entire town for such little people!
Discovery of the mummy and town came after 2 months of illegal excavation in the historic Gudiz Fort in Kerman Province, Iran. The site is near the Iranian town of Shahdad which dates back to the time of the Sassanid Empire which existed from 224 AD to about 651 AD. The Sassanid Empire was the last Persian Empire before the coming of Islam to Iran/Persia.
Smugglers took the tiny mummified body and attempted to sell it on the black market in German for 3 million dollars. The tiny mummy is about 25 cm tall (9.8 inches). It’s body is still covered in its skin and forensic investigators estimate the tiny individual was between 16-17 years old.
Long before this discovery there were rumors in the area of a lost city of little people. Controversy erupted when some researchers claimed the individual was 5000 years old and did not date to the Sassanid Empire period. And that controversy continues even today. Continue Reading
A few days ago Ancient Origins (see link below for story) published an article about a mummified skull of a newborn having been discovered in Peru and that this skull is unusual because it is elongated. So does this prove that the Paracas skulls were born that way and not manipulated as part of some sort of cultural tradition?
The Paracas culture lived in the Andes Mountains of Peru between 800-100 BCE. It appears that they had a rather extensive knowledge in water management and irrigation. This area is the Ica region of Peru and most of our information about the Paracas people comes from excavations at a seaside site on the Paracas Peninsula that was first excavated by Julio Tello a Peruvian archaeologist in the 1920’s.
Most researchers believe that the Paracas engaged in what is known as “artificial cranial deformation” (head flattening, head binding) which results in the elongation of the skull. It is achieved by distorting the growth of a child’s skull by applying force via binding to the young skull. This practice typically begins when the child is an infant as the infant’s skull is pliable and can be rather easily shaped and manipulated. It would begin at birth and continue for about 6 months or so. Most researchers believe that the Paracas Skulls are the result of intention head binding and manipulating the skeleton is more common that you might think. For instance, in China young girls had their feet broken and bound to achieve small feet as they grew older. Some Native America tribes used cradle boards which resulted in the flattening of the back of the skull in an infant. Thus, it would not have been unusual for the Paracas people to have intentionally manipulated the infant skull to achieve an elongated, flattened, rounded, or conical skull shape. Perhaps it was done for religious reasons. Perhaps it was done as a mark of nobility. Perhaps it was done for beauty!
It has been suggested that these skulls are elongated (or otherly shaped) because they are not human skulls at all but alien or alien-human hybrids. Is there evidence to support this assertion? Let’s take a further look at the Paracas Skulls and Paracas Culture. Continue Reading
Seems the ancient curse of the Lost City of the Monkey God (La Ciudad Blanca) has struck archaeologists working at the site in the form of a flesh eating parasite! The site is located in the jungle of Honduras and the researchers almost lost their faces working at the site. It’s believed ancient peoples abandoned the city in the 16th century after fearing their gods had cursed it with disease.
The extremely life threatening disease is known as “leishmaniasis.” The parasite migrates in the mucus membranes of the mouth and nose and eats the flesh away. The nose falls off, if left untreated, and the face becomes a giant open sore.
Researchers believe the ruined city contains some huge secrets but say it’s just too dangerous to explore or excavate. So where does this put things? Researchers don’t appear in a hurry to get back to the site (they are under medical treatment right now). Will this site ever be excavated and will the White City ever be forced to give up her secrets? At this point it appears doubtful.
Read more details about this story at:
And see my previous posts about the Lost City of the Monkey God at:
Found! Lost City of the Monkey God https://rperon1017blog.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/found-lost-city-of-the-monkey-god/
Lost City of the Monkey God continued: https://rperon1017blog.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/city-of-the-monkey-god-continued/
Lost City of the Monkey God or Maybe Not:https://rperon1017blog.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/lost-city-of-the-monkey-god-or-maybe-not/
Honduras Launches Expedition: https://rperon1017blog.wordpress.com/2016/01/13/honduras-launches-expedition-to-lost-city-of-the-monkey-god/
Lost City of the Monkey God New Finds: https://rperon1017blog.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/lost-city-of-the-monkey-god-new-finds/
(One of the Kivas at Chaco Canyon Ruins)
Chaco Canyon is a rather desolate place today but I suspect it may not have always been that way. Chaco was the zenith of Pueblo culture in the American Southwest a thousand years ago and the ruins that the people of Chaco left behind are nothing short of amazing. Yet, one wonders just how these ancient people s fed themselves as some archaeologists estimate that at it height Chaco housed thousands of people. Now a new study conducted by Dr Larry Benson of the University of Colorado-Boulder is postulating that the people of Chaco likely imported corn, a food stable for the Pueblo Indians, from mountain to the west of Chaco Canyon. Yet, other researchers do not hold the view that Chaco was ever inhabited by more than a few people as they believe it was primarily a ceremonial center and not a community.
However, if Chaco was a community that at its zenith housed thousands of Pueblo people then they would have to have had the means necessary to feed so many people and the soil in Chaco is not all that great for farming, anything. Benson says that the most significant thing about this study is that it demonstrates that the Chaco people could not have grown large amounts of food in the soil at Chaco and neither could such quantities required be grown in the side canyons enough to feed perhaps several thousands of people.
Benson speculates that, instead, much of the corn was imported from the Chuska Slope which is on the eastern flank of the Chuska Mountains some 50 miles west of Chaco Canyon. We know much of the timber used in the construction of the great houses at Chaco came from this area between the 9th and 12th centuries. Benson employed tree ring data as part of his study technique. The data set was created by University of Arizona Professor Emeritus Jeff Dean. This data showed annual precipitation at Chaco spanning 1100 years and this tree ring data showed the minimum amount of annual precipitation required to grow corn was only exceeded 2.5% of the time during that time period. The Chuska Slope, in contrast, would have been able to produce enough corn for the people of Chaco IF, indeed, thousands of people did live there a thousand years ago. Pueblo people are known to have lived on the slope prior to 1130 AD and it was no small population as estimates range from 11,000 to 17,000 people.
Benson concluded that winter snows in the Chuska Mountains would have produced enough spring snow melt to grow large amounts of corn. This water likely was used to irrigate large corn fields on the slope. Further, the people of Chaco did, in fact, trade on a regular basis with the Pueblo people living on the Chuska Slope and we know this from finds such as chert (stone tool material), pottery, and wooden beams used at Chaco. Continue Reading