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Old April 4th, 2010, 12:22 PM   #1

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Do you think in the past people were shorter?


I don't know how it is globally, Here the next generations seem to be taller than the former one.

How tall were average Roman, Germanic people, Arabs, Japannesse...etc?
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Old April 4th, 2010, 01:47 PM   #2
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Re: Do you think in the past people were shorter?


I know for a fact that about 150ish years ago the average height for a man in North America was 5 foot 5 inches. These days the average is closer to 6 foot even.
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Old April 4th, 2010, 02:22 PM   #3

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Re: Do you think in the past people were shorter?


I think that there was a study done to correlate this with diet, and it is generally true that as diet has imprioved, peole have gotten taller. I can't remember where I got this info from though!

Also, if I recall, height may have gone up and down a bit over the centuries.
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Old April 4th, 2010, 02:41 PM   #4

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Re: Do you think in the past people were shorter?


Height did indeed go up over the centuries: an average Anglo-Saxon was probably the same as now, whilst a 14 century Englishman considerably shorter. (The black death and decades of poor harvests and lack of people to get the harvest in contributed to this). By the Tudor period, height went up again, but probably not to current levels. By the Victorian era, people were generally shorter due to a pretty poor diet, particularly in the towns. Even by the time of post WW2, in some city areas, people were considerably shorter.

I've read a few studies which suggest that the best height to be, for the best mix of strength and stamina and robustness, is around 5 feet 7 inches.

Early anatomically modern humans, such as Cro-Magnon (end of last ice age) were often at least as tall as people today. This is has largely fueled the "recently out of Africa" debate: Neanderthals, who were quite a lot shorter, were short and stocky for a reason: it is the best shape for cold weather. Modern Eskimos are short and stocky: Zulus and Sudanese are often very tall and thin. The best shape for a hot climate.
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Old April 4th, 2010, 08:33 PM   #5

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Re: Do you think in the past people were shorter?


Height has certainly gone up in recent centuries; not sure about way-back. For anecdotal evidence, all you have to do is look at old clothes in museums and look at the accompanying photos if they are from the 19th century. In a recent visit to the Smithsonian with my 6 foot daughter (imagine that in 1778), we were looking at one of Geo Washington's uniforms. GW was regarded as a big, solid guy in his day, but neither I or my daughter would be able to fit in his clothes. Not only that, but when you look at 19th century photos and see people in those clothes that look so small now, people back then wore them with lots of extra room. People back then seemed to be smaller-framed, especially around the shoulders.

I had similar observations of the armor in the Met in NYC...they looked like they were made for guys about 5'6'' or so.
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Old April 4th, 2010, 10:38 PM   #6

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Re: Do you think in the past people were shorter?


I have experienced the same thing when looking at old clothes, and I understand that height and body shape varies with diet and other factors over the generations. Having said that, George Washington is variously reported to have been between 6'-0" and 6"-2" tall. He was measured out for his coffin at 6'-3 1/2." I don't know why his clothes would appear to be so small. Do clothes often appear smaller when they're not on the person? Is it the style of the clothing that creates this effect? Is it some kind of optical illusion?
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Old April 4th, 2010, 11:36 PM   #7
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Re: Do you think in the past people were shorter?


Systematic height measurement of representative populations has been available for some countries since the early XIX or even late XVIII centuries; there has been a significant but irregular trend of increase, mostly explained by nutritional and socioeconomic factors.
Source: "Global Height Trends in Industrial and Developing Countries, 1810-1984: An Overview " by J Baten et al http://epub.ub.uni-muenchen.de/572/1...th_century.pdf.
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Old April 5th, 2010, 01:35 AM   #8

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Re: Do you think in the past people were shorter?


hmm... no.


coz our average height never increase
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Old April 5th, 2010, 05:15 AM   #9

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Re: Do you think in the past people were shorter?


Quote:
Originally Posted by skizzerflake View Post
Height has certainly gone up in recent centuries; not sure about way-back. For anecdotal evidence, all you have to do is look at old clothes in museums
I had similar observations of the armor in the Met in NYC...they looked like they were made for guys about 5'6'' or so.
Suits of armor were also my first thought. I've seen suits of armor in a dozen museums and skizzerflake is correct, they were made for much shorter people, his 5'6" is a fair estimate. To get my 6'1" fat a** into one I would have to jump off the roof of a 8 story building.

There are quite a few uniforms and shoes at the museum in Gettysburg. All of them are made for much shorter (and thinner) people. The shoes look like they would fit an 8 year old, and that was only 150 years ago. (As an aside, a cabinet placard points out that the shoes of that time were not fitted for left foot and right foot, just one shape shoe!!!!)
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Old April 5th, 2010, 05:28 AM   #10

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Re: Do you think in the past people were shorter?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Patricia View Post
... Having said that, George Washington is variously reported to have been between 6'-0" and 6"-2" tall. He was measured out for his coffin at 6'-3 1/2."...
It is safe to say Geo. Washington was a solid man at 6' 2".
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