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RE: [mythsoc] People sizes (was: On the trail of hobbits?)

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  • Julia Palffy
    That the Romans were relatively small, at least compared with the Gauls, is reported in Livy s Roman History, as well as indicated by archaeological finds. It
    Message 1 of 8 , Mar 4, 2000
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      That the Romans were relatively small, at least compared with the Gauls, is
      reported in Livy's Roman History, as well as indicated by archaeological
      finds. It doesn't ensue that they were all as small as those people in
      Pompeii (Mary, how much percent of its original size did your overcooked
      roast lose? It might give us an idea...) nor does it mean that a Jew (Jesus)
      might not have been six feet tall..
      BTW, that size attributed to Jesus is based on the Shroud of Turin - there
      is no physical description of Him by his contemporaries, either in the
      Gospels or in Flavius Josephus, and the first representations of Him as we
      are accustomed to see them only appear after the 4th or 5th century CE. In
      terms of historical criteria, these are pretty uncertain references.
      Personally, I do believe the Shroud represents Jesus, but it's a matter of
      personal conviction rather than a scientific conclusion.
      For my part, I consider myself a middle height ( 1,68 m.), but when I stayed
      in Japan ten years ago, Japanese girls considered me enviably tall; on the
      other hand,
      the American tourists I sometimes see in Zurich do strike me as particularly
      big, bigger than the Swiss average. This does not mean that I exclude the
      possibility of big Japanese or small Americans... :-) Il faut de tout pour
      faire un monde!

      All the best,

      Julia Palffy
      Zug, Switzerland
      jupalffy@...
    • Stolzi@aol.com
      In a message dated 3/4/00 3:29:59 PM Central Standard Time, ... Maybe, but I thought it was also found in legend or folklore. True about the Romans vis-a-vis
      Message 2 of 8 , Mar 4, 2000
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        In a message dated 3/4/00 3:29:59 PM Central Standard Time,
        jupalffy@... writes:

        > BTW, that size attributed to Jesus is based on the Shroud of Turin

        Maybe, but I thought it was also found in legend or folklore.

        True about the Romans vis-a-vis the Gauls or the Germans.

        Here's what my Classics prof friend says:

        <<Augustus wore elevator shoes (Suetonius) because he was so sensitive to
        height, he knew he looked handsome and imperial but too short for the role.
        Ancient people in general were an average of six inches to nine at least,
        figures remembered but in ballpark, shorter than we are (for that matter,
        look at most modern Greeks and Italians, specially the women--and they eat
        better) (medieval suits of armor bear this out well too) because of the
        less protein in their childhood and adult diet, even the upper classes.
        So that variation is fairly well known.>>

        >Il faut de tout pour faire un monde!

        I like even better the Spanish way of putting it:

        "Hay de todo en la vina de Dios." (That's n with a squiggle of course)

        If I were to English this, I'd probably say: "All kinds'a plants in the
        garden of God."

        Mary S
      • Julia Palffy
        Stolzi@aol.com wrote: BTW, that size attributed to Jesus is based on the Shroud of Turin Maybe, but I thought it was also found in legend or folklore. Not
        Message 3 of 8 , Mar 5, 2000
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          Stolzi@... wrote:

          "> BTW, that size attributed to Jesus is based on the Shroud of Turin

          Maybe, but I thought it was also found in legend or folklore."

          Not likely - there are a lot of folk tales in different European countries
          about when Jesus walked on Earth (some of them christianised versions of
          Ovid's Philemon and Baucis or other tales that were already known in
          Antiquity, with Jesus and St. Peter instead of Jupiter and Mercury), but
          detailed characterisation is not an usual feature of true folk tales, the
          characters of folk tales are usually "types".
          One of the arguments in the Shroud of Turin story was that there is, from
          the 4th century onward, a legend about a true portrait "not made by human
          hands" of Jesus, and curiously enough, that is when the artistic
          representations of His face all begin to have more or less the same
          proportions and features, regardless of different styles and cultures, so it
          is supposed there must have been some authoritative "original", which was
          most probably the Shroud of Turin. For more information about this, try Ian
          Wilson's books about the Shroud of Turin, the latest being "The Blood and
          the Shroud".

          Concerning Julius Caesar, I looked up my Suetonius last night too - but he
          only says that Caesar was said to be "tall, of a light complexion, well-made
          limbs, the face somewhat full, eyes black and bright..." (Suetonius, Lives
          of the 12 Caesars, book 1, chapter 45, translation mine (from the French)).

          I liked that Spanish quote - nuch more poetical than the French! :-)

          Best wishes,

          Julia Palffy
          Zug, Switzerland
          jupalffy@...
        • WendellWag@aol.com
          I apologize to people for getting us started on this sidetrack about heights. Let this be my last post on the subject. There do seem to be many reputable
          Message 4 of 8 , Mar 5, 2000
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            I apologize to people for getting us started on this sidetrack about heights.
            Let this be my last post on the subject.

            There do seem to be many reputable sources that give large height differences
            between certain ancient and medieval peoples and certain modern peoples,
            often in the range of six to eight inches. One that I found was as much as
            ten inches. I suspect that what that quote of "a full meter difference in
            height" was about was that someone read that the difference was ten inches,
            so they decided to report that in their article as "almost a foot". They
            then decided to make that sound more dramatic, so they changed the wording to
            the clearly inaccurate "a full foot". Apparently they were distracted while
            typing this and by mistake they put down "a full meter".

            The problem with the differences given above though is two things. One is
            that sometimes they seem to be comparing different genetic groups, so the
            differences aren't quite just due to the times. The other is that there
            seems to be variations in the past about the amount of malnutrition and
            disease, and this isn't just a continuous decrease. There were times and
            societies in the past with relatively small amounts of malnutrition and
            disease.

            As to the average height of contemporary Americans, I've found reputable
            sources that give the average height of adult American men as being either 5'
            9" or 5' 10" (and that difference is not due to those sources rounding the
            actual figures). It seems strange that they can't get their answers closer
            than an inch, but this may be just the problems in doing a good survey.
            After all, in the last American census 10 years ago, we couldn't even count
            the number of people accurately. We missed 1.6%, and we may miss that many
            in the census this year.

            The tallest people in the world at the moment, according to one source, are
            the Dutch, with the Scandanavians a close second. They're a little under 5'
            11". There seems to be two reasons why they are taller. One is that there
            probably are some genetic tendencies for Nordic peoples to be taller than,
            say, Mediterrean peoples, and the U.S. has a mixture of genetic types. The
            other is that the Northern Europeans, while their average standard of living
            is about the same as in the U.S., has a significantly flatter economic
            system. The U.S. has a higher proportion of people living in poverty and
            hence has more people who are malnurished during their growing years.

            Some sources are willing to go out on a limb and say that it appears that 5'
            11" is the top of the genetic potential for men (and 5' 5.5" is for women),
            so there isn't going to be any further growth in the average height beyond
            what's observable in Northern Europe at the moment.

            As to why many people in the U.S. give offhand estimates for average heights
            in the U.S. that are off by two or three inches (so that people will sometime
            claim that the average height in the U.S. for men is 6'), well, I'm going to
            have to get political here. For those of you who have never met me, I'm a
            touch under 4'11" (and purely for genetic reasons), and I can get political
            about this really easily. There's lots of evidence of discrimination in
            hiring, promotion, etc. by height. More to the point, short people tend to
            be invisible. In the jobs in which people appear in the public most
            (entertainment, politics, etc.), the people in those jobs are several inches
            taller on average, and this affects people's estimates of average height.
            Even just in everyday life, people tend to remember the tall people and
            forget the short people they know when making estimates.

            Can we get back to fantasy now?
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