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This is a follow-up for Average height of Ancient Roman Men and Women? :

I'm curious what was the average height and build of men & women citizens of Greek states (Athens, Sparta, etc) in 7th-3rd centuries BC as well as civilizations they interacted with (Persians, Egyptians).

In particular, were there height and build differences between the above states/peoples statistically significant in comparison with height and build variations within individual state/people?

  • My guess is that since people generally had similar gene pool and also similar living standards - nutrition, stress levels, etc... - so the average height difference between the two eras will be minimal. – CsBalazsHungary Nov 19 '14 at 9:33
  • Are you sure you meant 7th to 3rd century B.C.? That is the Archaic and Classical periods. Late Antiquity is more like A.D. 3rd to 7th century. – Semaphore Nov 19 '14 at 13:30
  • @Semaphore: I meant BC; the mistake was in the words "late antiquity". – Michael Nov 21 '14 at 7:00
  • @Michael I edited the title to reflect your comment. – Semaphore Nov 21 '14 at 10:02
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In 1944-45, the late forensic anthropologist John Lawrence Angel studied Ancient Greek skeletal remains. His results were 162 cm for men and 153 cm for women. He only had a rather small sample size at the time, though.

Right after his death, excavation began on the cemetery of the Magna Graecia colony-city of Metapontum. The Metaontum necropolis was remarkably well preserved, and an examine of the excavated remains vindicated Dr. Angel's earlier results.

The Metapontion necropolis ... revealed that the average height of adult males was between 162 and 165 cm, that of females between 153 and 156 cm, and with a body weight of approximately 60-65 kg for males and 50-55 kg for females; in other words, the findings of earlier examinations were soundly confirmed in this respect.

- Kagan, Donald, and Gregory F. Viggiano, eds. Men of Bronze: Hoplite Warfare in Ancient Greece. Princeton University Press, 2013.


For future reference, height of European skeletal remains since Classical Antiquity:

enter image description here

- Koepke, Nikola, and Joerg Baten. 2005. “The Biological Standard of Living in Europe during the Last Two Millennia.” European Review of Economic History 9(1): 61–95.

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    +1 Interesting to see the period of dark ages how average female height dropped significantly, most probably because of poor nutrition and higher stress levels. – CsBalazsHungary Nov 19 '14 at 13:26
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    For us backward USAians, that's about 5'4 for men and 5'0 for women. – T.E.D. Nov 19 '14 at 14:10
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    +1. But I wonder why the graph has separate vertical scales for male and female. That makes gender based comparison meaningless. – Rajib Nov 19 '14 at 19:22
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    @T.E.D. that's close to current trends in India. Although other conclusions such as milk consumption cannot have a bearing on the US population. – Rajib Nov 19 '14 at 19:26
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    No females born in Europe since 1500? That's tough. – Oldcat Nov 20 '14 at 1:29

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