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On the trail of hobbits?

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  • Stolzi@aol.com
    ... European ... somewhere ... I can just imagine the 2-foot-long suits of armor and the 2 1/2-foot-tall horses they were using in those days of chivalry...
    Message 1 of 11 , Mar 2, 2000
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      Today I received the following amazing communication in an e-mail newsletter:

      > As a result of public health, today the
      > average American is a full meter taller than European ancestors were
      > in 1400.

      To which I replied:

      >What in G-d's name are they talking about?? The =average= American won't
      >reach 6 feet, I am sure. A meter is, if I recall, 3 feet 4 in. Thus, our
      European
      >ancestors were an amazing bunch of hobbits running around measuring
      somewhere
      >in the 2 feet, 2 feet 6 in, 3 feet range?

      I can just imagine the 2-foot-long suits of armor and the 2 1/2-foot-tall
      horses they were using in those days of chivalry... there must be some in
      museums, the armor, I mean, not the horses.

      Mary S
    • WendellWag@aol.com
      I just tried to look up what the actual difference in average height is between now and 1400. The best guess seems to be about two or three inches (caused by
      Message 2 of 11 , Mar 3, 2000
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        I just tried to look up what the actual difference in average height is
        between now and 1400. The best guess seems to be about two or three inches
        (caused by things like improved nutrition and such). The average height of
        adult American men now is 5' 9.0" and of adult American women is 5' 3.6",
        incidentally.

        Wendell Wagner
      • Stolzi@aol.com
        In a message dated 3/3/00 2:54:52 AM Central Standard Time, ... Good luck! I tried that on the Web when we had this discussion awhile ago on another List,
        Message 3 of 11 , Mar 3, 2000
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          In a message dated 3/3/00 2:54:52 AM Central Standard Time,
          WendellWag@... writes:

          > I just tried to look up what the actual difference in average height is
          > between now and 1400

          Good luck! I tried that on the Web when we had this discussion awhile ago
          on another List, and kept getting sites for role-playing games: how high is
          the Human who is combatting the Troll, and how many points to assign them,
          etc. It was v annoying!

          Role-playing games and rock bands are tops for generating false hits for
          otherwise sensible words. Plus genealogy sites, if you are trying to look
          up any author who has a name a bit more ordinary than, say, "J.R.R. Tolkien."

          Mary S
        • ERATRIANO@aol.com
          In a message dated 03/03/2000 2:56:14 PM Eastern Standard Time, Stolzi@aol.com writes:
          Message 4 of 11 , Mar 3, 2000
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            In a message dated 03/03/2000 2:56:14 PM Eastern Standard Time,
            Stolzi@... writes:

            << Role-playing games and rock bands are tops for generating false hits for
            otherwise sensible words. >>
            Well, uh, some gamers are also history and/or literature buffs. Just a
            matter of asking the right person.

            Lizzie
          • Julia Palffy
            Stolzi@aol.com wrote: Thus, our European ancestors were an amazing bunch of hobbits running around measuring somewhere in the 2 feet, 2 feet 6 in, 3 feet
            Message 5 of 11 , Mar 3, 2000
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              Stolzi@... wrote:

              "Thus, our European ancestors were an amazing bunch of hobbits running
              around measuring somewhere in the 2 feet, 2 feet 6 in, 3 feet range?

              I can just imagine the 2-foot-long suits of armor and the 2 1/2-foot-tall
              horses they were using in those days of chivalry... there must be some in
              museums"

              There is... and it does look a bit large for Hobbits! ;-) though rather too
              small for the average modern man. The range might be more like 5 feet, 5
              feet 10". Still, knights had to be tough. I remember being told in school
              that a knight in full armour would have been carrying 30-35 kgs of metal on
              his body, which considerably hampered their mobility. I also remember a
              display in a museum in England, explaining that their chargers were huge
              horses of the Clydesdale type, because these were the only ones that didn't
              collapse under the weight of the armour (the horse also wore some armoured
              protection of its own, besides having to carry the knight and his stuff,
              which would probably amount to ca. 100 kg).

              Other examples for comparison: in Haworth Parsonage, one of Charlotte
              Bront´┐Ż's actual dresses (adult size) is displayed. She writes somewhere that
              she was undersized, being something under 5 feet, and the dress bears this
              out. The dress is in fact pretty small - today it would barely fit a petite
              10 year-old (You wouldn't believe how tiny that waist is!).

              Still smaller are the petrified Roman bodies that were excavated at Pompeii.
              When you actually see them, it's hard to believe they weren't all children,
              even taking into account that they must have been shrivelled by the hot
              ashes which buried them.
              The Romans were known to be of small stature - but even these must have been
              at least 4 feet tall...

              Also, different European peoples had different average sizes during the same
              period. The Gauls often seemed gigantic to the Romans.

              So, even though people today are as an average somewhat taller than their
              medieval ancestors, that "full meter" difference reads more like a joke from
              Marseille (people there love exaggerating...)than like any kind of serious
              fact...


              Julia Palffy
              Zug, Switzerland
              jupalffy@...
            • Stolzi@aol.com
              In a message dated 3/3/00 4:03:46 PM Central Standard Time, ... So was Queen Victoria, if I recall. Geo Washington, on the other hand, was 6 foot three in his
              Message 6 of 11 , Mar 3, 2000
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                In a message dated 3/3/00 4:03:46 PM Central Standard Time,
                jupalffy@... writes:

                > being something under 5 feet,

                So was Queen Victoria, if I recall. Geo Washington, on the other hand, was 6
                foot three in his prime.

                I find that figure about 4-foot Romans hard to believe. We have lots of
                life-size Roman statues remaining, has anyone measured them?

                Granted, of course, that Northern Europeans on the average were taller than
                Mediterraneans. I was told recently on another list that human height is a
                genetic given, with max attainment depending on nutrition; people in bygone
                ages =who got well fed= reached the same heights as their descendants today -
                but of course there were fewer who were well fed. This was from a study
                which measured actual buried bones, surviving clothing, etc.

                Inbreeding in a given smaller population can produce startling results: viz.
                Watusis or Pygmies. And if you want to know, Pygmies measured in the early
                1900's, it says here in my 1911 EB, averaged 4 1/2 feet, though some of 3 1/2
                or even 3 feet were known.

                Just for the record, I measure around 5 ft 7 and 3/4 inches. My mother is 5'
                6", my father topped six feet (as do my sons) and my father's mother was 6 ft
                tall, unusual in her day and age. Husband Conrad is around 5' 10". Racial
                derivation here, on both sides, largely northern European.

                Son John went to Carleton College, in Minnesota, and the dorm beds were
                extra-long twins for which we had to buy special sheets :)

                Mary S
              • Stolzi@aol.com
                In a message dated 3/3/00 2:34:43 PM Central Standard Time, ERATRIANO@aol.com ... True, but I meant you don t get the factual history webpage you are looking
                Message 7 of 11 , Mar 3, 2000
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                  In a message dated 3/3/00 2:34:43 PM Central Standard Time, ERATRIANO@...
                  writes:

                  > << Role-playing games and rock bands are tops for generating false hits for
                  > otherwise sensible words. >>
                  > Well, uh, some gamers are also history and/or literature buffs. Just a
                  > matter of asking the right person.

                  True, but I meant you don't get the factual history webpage you are looking
                  for on your word-search. I would never demean or impugn the intelligence of
                  gamers.

                  Mary S
                • David S. Bratman
                  ... Somehow this causes me to think of four-footed Romans, and to imagine statues of Roman soldiers in glistening armour, posed awkwardly with their hands on
                  Message 8 of 11 , Mar 3, 2000
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                    On Fri, 3 Mar 2000 Stolzi@... wrote:

                    > I find that figure about 4-foot Romans hard to believe. We have lots of
                    > life-size Roman statues remaining, has anyone measured them?

                    Somehow this causes me to think of four-footed Romans, and to imagine
                    statues of Roman soldiers in glistening armour, posed awkwardly with
                    their hands on the ground and their rears sticking up in the air.

                    David Bratman
                    - not responsible for the following advertisement -
                  • Julia Palffy
                    Stolzi@aol.com wrote: I find that figure about 4-foot Romans hard to believe. We have lots of life-size Roman statues remaining, has anyone measured them? I
                    Message 9 of 11 , Mar 4, 2000
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                      Stolzi@... wrote:

                      I find that figure about 4-foot Romans hard to believe. We have lots of
                      life-size Roman statues remaining, has anyone measured them?

                      I remember found it hard to believe it too when I saw those petrified
                      bodies... which is why I suggested the possibility of some "shrivelling" -
                      but of course, I can't imagine that making more than a couple of inches
                      difference. It's many years since I visited Pompeii, so my estimate may be a
                      little wide of the mark, but I think not much.

                      As to Roman statuary - It would depend on what it was made for in the first
                      place.
                      I visited the collection in the Vatican museums last November. There were
                      too many different sizes to be really sure of which were life-size. Most of
                      them, as I remember, were funerary statues. They did seem curiously
                      proportioned in that they were just under what I would define as life-size,
                      sort of the shape of adults but the height of children.
                      I think the function of the statues would also influence their size: the
                      statue of a famous consul or of some divinity, meant to be set up as a
                      public monument, would be more likely to be carved somewhat oversize to look
                      more impressive. And family Lares (statues of ancestors) might also depen on
                      the price the sculptor asked for it or what the family could have afforded.
                      So I'm not sure statues are a good reference to judge the size of actual
                      people.

                      Again, when I think of the Etruscan war-chariot I saw in the same museum, I
                      think a five-foot man would almost have been too tall for it. I'm not sure
                      whether it was meant for a single passenger or a charioteer and a passenger
                      (in the latter case, only hobbits could actually have fitted into it without
                      falling out at the first jerk!)And yet it certainly wasn't a toy!

                      Thinking about it, a lot of historical artefacts I've seen in museums are
                      unnervingly barely just too small to seem realistic - I've often wondered
                      whether I could really believe what was written on the display label, or
                      been tempted to think it must have been some kind of ritual object, not
                      meant for actual wear, or been meant for a child, though it isn't anything
                      child-like...


                      Julia Palffy
                      Zug, Switzerland
                      jupalffy@...
                    • ERATRIANO@aol.com
                      I m a naturalized German/English type (thank you for that info on Cousin George), around five and a half feet tall and all the men on my side of the family
                      Message 10 of 11 , Mar 4, 2000
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                        I'm a "naturalized" German/English type (thank you for that info on Cousin
                        George), around five and a half feet tall and all the men on my side of the
                        family are 6' or over BUT I married a Northern Irish/Sicilian and most of the
                        men on the Sicilian side are shorter than me, and of the Northern Irish some
                        seem very short and others very tall (been there to visit the family)... not
                        that you care... AND when doing the hitchhiking / train thing in 1985, my
                        friend and I noticed, crossing the borders coming up from France into
                        Germany, that everyone suddenly got a few inches taller on average. Didn't
                        go into Italy and Greece. It's a pretty noticeable trend, if you are just
                        blundering around prepared to notice it.

                        Lizzie
                      • ERATRIANO@aol.com
                        In a message dated 03/03/2000 9:39:32 PM Eastern Standard Time, Stolzi@aol.com writes:
                        Message 11 of 11 , Mar 4, 2000
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                          In a message dated 03/03/2000 9:39:32 PM Eastern Standard Time,
                          Stolzi@... writes:

                          << True, but I meant you don't get the factual history webpage you are
                          looking
                          for on your word-search. I would never demean or impugn the intelligence of
                          gamers. >>
                          ggg. It's so hard to see expressions on this machine. Actually I get a lot
                          of false leads when doing web searches. Even using questions. And then the
                          search engine has the nerve to question my spelling.

                          Lizzie
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