Archaeologitsts discover 5000-year-old 'graveyard of giants' in Chinese village

The Late Neolithic site dates back to times when the Yellow River Valley was inhabited by the Longshan Culture.

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Representational image of a graveyard. Reuters

Chinese archaeologists have discovered a 5000-year-old graveyard of abnormally tall people who used to live in the country's Shandong province. According to reports, the skeletal remains measured over six feet in height.

Xinhua reported that an archaeological excavation at Jiaojia village in Jinan City's Zhangqiu District has uncovered 104 houses, 205 graves, and 20 sacrificial pits. Apart from these, pottery and various objects made with jade were also found during the dig.

The Late Neolithic site that has been discovered in China dates back to times when the Yellow River Valley was inhabited by the Longshan Culture. It was also known as the Black Pottery Culture, which was popular in the region from 3000 to 1900 BC.

Archaeologists from the University of Shandong initiated the search last year. Xinhua reported that an analysis of the skeletal remains suggests the ancient people living in the region were unusually tall.

The reports said the tallest individual found in the grave was a male who measured 6'3". However, prior studies revealed that the Neolithic males typically measure around 5'5" and the females around 5'1". The researchers attributed the unusual height to genetics and environment.

Fang Hui, the lead archaeologist told Xinhua that the Late Neolithic civilisation engaged in agriculture. Thus, the villagers in the region had access to a variety of nutritious food which could have added to their overall physical growth.

"I suspect that this big game specialisation associated with a surplus of high-quality proteins and low population density created environmental conditions leading to the selection of exceptionally tall males," the study's lead author Pavel Grasgruber said in an interview with Seeker.

The tallest of the Longshan men were found in tombs, which the Shandong archaeologists said was because of their higher social status and access to better food.