Decoding the Giant Legends

Is Their Story Bigger Than We Realized?

In folklore, even in the Judeo-Christian Bible, there are tales of giants in ancient times, human or near-human beings of awesome size and strength, often hostile, even demonic in nature. Could these accounts be more than fantastic legends? Could there once have been not just individuals (like Goliath in the Bible) but entire races of gigantic people?

Before we go any further, however, let us dispense with some of the more obvious misconceptions and hoaxes. There are stories of giant humans twenty or thirty feet or more in height and even Internet and printed pictures of human skeletons that tall. But without exception these skeletons have about the same proportions and thickness as ordinary human bones. Most people give little thought to simple geometry, which places limits on size. Imagine a six-foot-tall man weighing, say, 180 pounds. Now imagine that his height is doubled to twelve feet, but his proportions remain the same; so he is twice as tall, twice as wide, and twice as deep from front to back. His volume and weight have increased by the cube of his dimensions’ increase, so he would weigh about eight times as much, or some 1,440 pounds. But his strength and durability depend on the cross-sectional area of his muscles and bones, now only four times as much—he is eight times as heavy but only four times as strong. Merely walking would be difficult; such people would be unlikely to survive. This is why truly large land animals like dinosaurs and elephants are proportionately heavily built, with extremely thick bones and muscles. A twelve-foot man, to be fit and healthy, would also have to be very massively built, weighing on the order of 2,500 pounds or more.

But that is not the only problem. To pump blood up to the brain, such a person’s heart would have to be extremely large and his blood pressure dangerously high. Adult male giraffes can be 14-18 feet tall, and their hearts weigh up to 25 pounds or more, generating twice the blood pressure generated by a human heart. Giraffes have special valves and veins to regulate blood flow. It is obvious that for a man to be even 14 feet tall, he would have to be massively, freakishly built and would need a specialized circulatory system. Probably the absolute theoretical height limit for a human being would be well under twenty feet, and it is unlikely that people much over twelve feet tall ever lived.

Most modern giants suffer from excess growth hormone and tend to be unhealthy and short-lived, but not always. The tallest man on record, Robert Wadlow of the U.S., was 8 ft. 11 in. tall and lived only 22 years, from 1918 to 1940. The tallest woman is China’s 8 ft., 1 in. Zeng Jinian; she is still alive but is quite young. Yet some giants have been strongly built, even becoming athletes. Any number of modern basketball players is nearly or even slightly over seven feet in height. The French Canadian strongman and wrestler Edouard Beaupré was 8 ft. 3 in. tall but lived only 23 years, from 1881 to 1904. Argentine wrestler Jorge Gonzalez was seven feet, seven inches tall. The wrestler Andre the Giant was 7 ft. 4 in. and weighed 520 pounds; but, like most giants, he suffered from acromegaly, with his pituitary gland continuing to produce too much growth hormone even in his adult years. This causes the hands, feet, and jaw to grow disproportionately large and brings on a variety of health problems.

Entire modern tribes and ethnic groups can be extraordinarily short, like the Ituri Rain Forest Pygmies of Africa. Others are unusually tall, like the Watusi tribe of East Africa; many of the men are up to seven feet tall. In Europe, the Dutch are tall and usually well proportioned, and the Montenegrins in the mountainous areas of the Balkan Peninsula are taller still, with many men well over six feet tall, and some over seven feet, and many women are over six feet. So it is quite possible that, in ancient or prehistoric times, there were entire tribes or nations of giants. But is there evidence of this?

Physical anthropologists have (they believe) identified a species of prehistoric man they have named Homo heidelbergensis, or Heidelberg Man. I have suggested elsewhere that some prehistoric human “species” may simply be different races, but the same species as modern man. To support neo-Darwinism, scientists had to “discover” supposedly primitive species, ancestral to us and related to other primates. Even the anthropologists admit that they cannot always be sure if a specimen is Heidelberg Man, Homo erectus, or Neanderthal Man. Heidelberg people tended to be massively built and had an average brain size of 1,250 cubic centimeters compared to modern man’s 1,400 cubic centimeter average. Most were no taller than modern people, but anthropologists believe that they have identified a South African subgroup with men often over seven feet tall. So, within limits, it does appear that actual races of giants have lived.

There are rumors of giant human remains in places as diverse as Sardinia in the Mediterranean and Nan Madol in the southwest Pacific, but most of the confirmed specimens come from the Americas. Many of these were found and reported by scientists with good reputations, and others, found by laymen, were sent to museums or later examined on site by reputable researchers—and the number of these remains is staggering. This is all the more mysterious when we remember that, on average, Amerindians (and especially those in Mexico and in Central and South America) tend to be shorter than most Europeans. Jim Vieira and Hugh Newman document many of these finds in Giants on Record. In addition to the skeletons that have been unearthed, early (and some modern) European explorers reported giants in places like Tierra del Fuego.

In North America, there have been a couple of unverified claims of fourteen-foot skeletons, but most of the giants reported range from around six foot six to well over seven feet, with some eight and nine footers, and a very few of ten to twelve feet. They have been found everywhere, but most were in the eastern and southeastern United States and along the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys; and many of these were found in the mounds built by several ancient Amerindian civilizations. Vieira and Newman have documented some 1,000 finds in the U.S. and 500 more in other parts of the world. In addition to the finds and the reports of early explorers, many of the Amerindians had legends of giants. The Cherokee, for example, told of peaceful giants who came from somewhere in the west and lived among them for a time. The Paiutes of Nevada told of red haired, cannibalistic giants whom they wiped out; and there are unverified claims by European settlers in the region of skeletons up to nine and a half feet tall, at least one having some red hair remaining on the scalp (some researchers believe, however, that black hair may turn red after death).

Magellan and Sir Francis Drake both reported giants up to seven-and-a-half feet tall in Patagonia. In 1519, Spanish explorer Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda reported entire villages of living giants near the mouth of the Mississippi. In 1541, Hernando Desoto reported Indian men averaging over 6’ 4” in Florida and Georgia. Other Spanish explorers reported brown-haired, gray-eyed, bearded giants in what is now South Carolina. Early European settlers claimed that the Karankawa Indians of coastal Texas were giants, and the Osage Indian men (the Osage mostly lived in what is now Missouri) were often well over six feet tall, with some seven footers. A photo of Dr. Frederick Cook in Patagonia in 1897 shows the 5’ 9” explorer flanked by two Patagonian men about six foot ten to 6’ 10” tall.

Space allows only a few of the giant skeletons to be listed. An estimated seven-foot human skeleton was found in Ohio’s mysterious Serpent Mound (located in what remains of an ancient asteroid crater). Giant tools and weapons have been found in other Ohio mounds; skeptics claim that they were merely ceremonial—this may or may not be correct, but some of them allegedly show signs of wear, as if they had actually been used by men of great strength. Elongated skulls were found in Virginia. There were claims of an eleven-foot skeleton in Michigan, found in 1894, and a ten-footer in Akron, Ohio in 1899. Even the Smithsonian Annual Report of 1873 admitted the discovery of a 36-inch diameter human skull in Illinois. In 1937, researchers found a skull with a 2,100 cubic centimeter brain capacity in Virginia. There were reports of seven- and even eight-foot human skeletons in shell mounds in Florida, and on California’s Channel Islands, and in Hawaii. Archaeologist Byron Cummings of the University of Arizona reported seven footers found in Sonora, Mexico in 1934. Many of the giant skeletons had unusually thick bones, which, as I pointed out, would be necessary for true giants to be strong and healthy.

[Dr. Greg Little, author of The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Native American Indian Mounds & Earthworks, wrote on some of this and evidence for manipulation of evidence on giants, by the Smithsonian, for Atlantis Rising #108 November/December, “Giant Predecessors in America.”—ED.]

Some, but not all, of the giant skulls had double rows of teeth. It is not hard to figure out that this would confer no benefits but, in fact, be a harmful mutation, likely to encourage tooth decay. Vieira and Newman suggest that the giants, still present when early modern European settlers and explorers arrived in the Americas, were remnants of an almost vanished prehistoric race; some appear to have been the rulers of mound builders and other tribes. If a small remnant population, in order to maintain their giant size, were only bred with other giants, this could have led to inbreeding and the expression of recessive and harmful traits—like double rows of teeth.

The reader may well wonder where these giant remains can be seen. Sadly, as Vieira and Newman point out, many were either destroyed or vanished into the basements of museums, hidden from the public. And when it comes to such museums, the Smithsonian Institution is mentioned again and again. This institution was founded in 1846 on a grant left by British scientist James Smithson for “an Establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.” The money was lost in a bad investment but restored by the U.S. government, which controls the Smithsonian today. Its Board of Regents is composed of U.S. Congressmen, the Vice President, the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and citizens approved by Congress. Most of its employees are federal civil servants. In recent years the Smithsonian has been beset by several financial scandals.

At the time most of the giant skeletons were being unearthed and the ancient mounds (those not destroyed by settlers) were being excavated, famed Grand Canyon explorer John Wesley Powell created the Smithsonian Bureau of Ethnology. He was very sympathetic to the Amerindians and opposed all notions of lost races and civilizations and cultural diffusion, preferring to believe that the Amerindians were fully capable of developing their own civilization. There is no doubt that this is true, and Powell’s enlightened attitude is very admirable, but why could there not be a mixture of cultural diffusion and independent invention? Perhaps prehistoric settlers from Europe and/or Asia and other places brought some of the arts and sciences to the first Americans, but perhaps the Amerindians also taught them many things. After all, following Columbus’ voyages, the Amerindians gave Europeans chocolate, corn, potatoes, tobacco, cocaine, and vanilla—they were master agriculturalists. We have seen in our time the damaging effects of political correctness.

In 1903, Ales Hrdlicka joined the Smithsonian and, in 1910, became curator of the Division of Physical Anthropology. Hrdlicka, interestingly, was a member of the racist eugenics movement, and for years refused to consider that anyone had lived in the Americas before 2000 BP (before the present). To his credit, he eventually accepted the evidence that Folsom spear points dated back to 10,000 BP or earlier. Not only the Smithsonian, but other institutions as well, seem dominated by narrow-minded individuals and by political correctness, or have hidden agendas. The Rockefeller Foundation was involved in archaeological digs and the study of prehistoric people, but its officials actually admitted that their main goal was to learn how to control people. Much the same is true of the Carnegie Institution, controlled by dogmatic proponents of neo-Darwinism. Many have heard the story of geologist Virginia Steen McIntyre, who dared to date Mexican stone tools at 250-300,000 BP. Her career was ruined and her conclusions never seriously considered. The University of California at Berkeley tried to stop the broadcasting of the NBC special The Mysterious Origins of Man and would not allow researcher Michael Cremo to see apparently very ancient artifacts from California, which they keep hidden from the public. So much of our past and evidence concerning the giants are being suppressed.

But if there were one or more actual races of giants in prehistoric times, where did they originate? Certainly multiple races would likely have multiple points of origin, and, since giants seem to have been most numerous in the Americas, it is possible that some of them originated here. But there is another possibility. Plato never comments on the size or the physical appearance of the Atlanteans. Could at least some of them have been a race of giants? Could Atlantis have been an empire of people living on many islands in and around the Atlantic and Caribbean, and some colonies on the mainland of North and South America, and perhaps southwest Spain and part of North Africa? Were their scattered homelands submerged by the rise in sea levels at the end of the last ice age? In North America the Mound Builder cultures seem to have originated near the mouth of the Mississippi and spread north, east, and west along that river and its tributaries, mainly the Ohio River. Meanwhile, a somewhat similar culture is now known to have existed in Amazonia and other parts of tropical South America, also building mounds—as well as roads and canals. They even traded with the Teotihuacan culture of Mexico, supplying them with the mica (geologists have identified its South American origin) used in their pyramids and temples. Could both the Mound Builder and the Amazonian cultures have derived from Atlantis, with survivors settling the coasts and migrating up the river systems? Could they have been giants? Did they teach the arts of civilization to people already in the Americas and perhaps dominate some tribes? It is fascinating to speculate, but much remains a mystery. Hopefully, despite the efforts of the defenders of the status quo, the truth will ultimately come to light.

By William B. Stoecker