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

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  • 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 1 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 2 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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