Letter | Published:

The Stature of the Human Race

Nature volume 36, page 366 | Download Citation

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IN your “Notes” of last issue, p. 348, you mention General Pitt-Rivers conducting a party of the Royal Archæological Institute to Woodcutts, where skeletons dug out show that the people who inhabited the ancient Romano-British village were of very inferior stature, the males being only on an average 5 feet 2 inches, and the females 4 feet 10 inches. I think it would be a very interesting inquiry to ascertain the average height of the human race in the past, as it appears to me from such data as I have been able to collect that the human race has continuously increased in averagestature. I have measured agreat many Roman coffins, where I happened to come across them, and my average shows that the Roman could not have greatly exceeded 5 feet 5 inches. In taking measurements of ancient armour, I find that the English aristocracy have decidedly increased in average height within 500 years. For a paper I read before our local Society, I measured twenty-five mummies in the British Museum as nearly as I could through the cases, making estimate for wrapping, and I found the average height of males 61 inches, females 55 inches. The mummy of the celebrated Cleopatra measures about 54 inches, about the height of the present average European girl of 13. The most ancient mummy of an Egyptian king yet discovered measured 52 inches. With research I have no doubt interesting data could be obtained on this subject. Limiting the matter to my own observations, I have formed the idea that the average stature of the human race increases at about the rate of 1.25 inches per 1000 years.

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  1. Cumberton, South Norwood, August 13.

    • WM. F. STANLEY

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/036366c0

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