Extremely high, not absolute but for the average of 5, 000 years ago: the skeletons of some men of 1.8 and - at least in one case - 1.9 meters were found during the archaeological excavations in the village of Jiaojia, in the province of Shandong (southeast of China).

Even higher. The measures concern only the bone structure, as explained by the archaeologists of Shandong University, authors of the discovery. From living, these individuals had to easily exceed 1.9 meters: true spilungoni by Neolithic standards, but also out of date for today's ones.

Males compared. In 2015, the average height of an 18-year-old in the same region was 1.753 meters, quite close to the national average of 1.72 meters. Despite the comforts of modernity and proper nutrition, the modern inhabitants of the area are decidedly lower than those of 5, 000 years ago. What is the ancient stature due to?

Image The actual height of a whole body - and not of a worn skeleton - had to be even higher than 1.9 meters. | Shandong University

European measures. In this preliminary phase of the excavations - which brought to light 205 graves, 20 sacrificial wells and the remains of 104 dwellings - and without a scientific study still published on the discoveries, it is difficult to establish. The average height for a man from our continent, in the same period, was about 1.65 meters.

Meat and vegetables. Certainly the Longshan culture to which the skeletons belonged enjoyed a varied diet, thanks to agriculture, but the pig bones and teeth found next to the finds, together with the remains of pottery, suggest that the population was also dedicated to breeding and had no trouble refueling.

A comfortable existence. Furthermore, taller individuals have come to light in larger graves, a detail that indicates a higher social rank - and therefore a more comfortable existence and better health.

The ruins of Jiaojia village bear witness to the past presence of houses with separate rooms and kitchens, another sign of a high quality of life. However, these elements do not seem to answer all the questions about record height: further excavations will perhaps provide the missing information.