In the early 1900s, a British archaeologist, John Garstang, made a groundbreaking discovery near Girgeh in Upper Egypt, a large mastaba belonging to a Giant Pharaoh.
Among the finds were relief fragments bearing the name of an unknown pharaoh at the time, Sanakht.
But who was the archeologist that found the Giant Pharaoh?
John Garstang was a prominent British archaeologist who lived from 1876 to 1956.
He is known for his work in the Middle East, particularly in the regions of Palestine, Syria, and Turkey.
Garstang began his career as an assistant at the Egypt Exploration Fund and later worked as a professor of archaeology at the University of Liverpool.
Garstang’s work was instrumental in developing archaeology in the Middle East, and he is remembered today as one of the most influential figures in the study of ancient Near Eastern civilizations.
In 1901 John Garstang made a groundbreaking discovery of Sanakht’s Mastaba near Girgeh in Upper Egypt.
What was found in the Mastaba K2?
Among the artifacts found in the Mastaba were fragments of a red granite sarcophagus and a limestone funerary stela, both bearing Sanakht’s name.
The stela depicts the Pharaoh offering to several deities.
It includes an inscription describing Sanakht as “The one who unites the Two Lands” (Upper and Lower Egypt).
The Giant in the Mastaba
Archaeologists also found the remains of a man inside the tomb, but something was unusual about them.
Upon close examination, they found that the bones were large.
The skeletal remains were over 1.87 m (6′ 1″) tall, making him 20 cm (7.87″) taller than the average of prehistoric and later Egyptians.
Even taller than Ramses II, who was only 175 cm (5’8″).
Who was the Pharaoh Sanakht?
Pharaoh Sanakht (also spelled Nebka or Hor-Sanakht) was a king of the Third Dynasty of ancient Egypt who ruled around 2700 BCE.
Sanakht’s reign was relatively short, and his role in Egyptian History needs to be more well-known.
He is believed to have been the successor of Pharaoh Djoser, who was known for commissioning the first pyramid in Egypt at the site of Saqqara.
The Saqqara contains the oldest complete stone building complex known in History.
A mastaba (a type of ancient Egyptian tomb) at Saqqara has been identified as possibly belonging to Sanakht.
But Sanakht was really a giant, or exist another explanation?
Francesco M. Galassi, from the University of Zurich, and his colleagues believe Sanakht’s unusual height resulted from gigantism.
Other earlier skeletons have been diagnosed with acromegaly, while both acromegaly and gigantism have a similar cause.
Acromegaly occurs in adulthood, and gigantism happens in childhood.
Gigantism is an extremely rare condition that happens when a child or adolescent has high levels of growth hormone in their body, which causes them to grow very tall.
The bones were found buried with honors in an elite tomb.
But usually, gigantism was associated with social marginalization in ancient times, including in Egypt.
However, a new analysis found that Sanakht was not suffering from the condition.
He was simply a remarkably tall man.
What was Sanakht’s Origin?
Scholars have suggested that the proportions of Sanakht’s long bones indicate an affinity with people of sub-Saharan African ancestry.
Some archeologists support that Pharaoh Sanakht was of Nubian (South Sudanese) origin, which would explain his height.
Who were the Nubians?
Archaeological evidence suggests that the Nile Valley, including the region that is now South Sudan, was inhabited by humans as early as the Paleolithic period (over 2 million years ago).
Over time, various groups migrated to the region, including the Nubians and other ethnicities from the neighboring areas.
The Nubians, who inhabited the Nile Valley in what is now northern Sudan and southern Egypt, had a significant influence on ancient Egyptian culture and History.
The Nubians and Egyptians interacted extensively throughout their shared History, exchanging goods, ideas, and cultural practices.
The Nubians were known for their skill in agriculture, metalworking, and trade, and they established many powerful kingdoms in the region, including the Kingdom of Kush.
Why is South Sudan people tall?
The people of South Sudan are known for their exceptional height, with an average male height of approximately 6 feet 2 inches, making them the tallest people in the world.
This is a striking contrast to the global average male height of around 5 feet 7 inches.
The reasons for this remarkable height are complex and multifaceted but may be related to genetic and environmental factors.
One possible explanation for the tall stature of the South Sudanese people is genetics.
Recent studies have identified some genetic variants that appear to be associated with increased height, and some of these variants may be more common in the South Sudanese population.
It is also worth noting that the people of South Sudan are a highly diverse group with a wide range of ethnicities and cultural backgrounds, and genetic and environmental factors may differ between these groups and contribute to differences in height.
Another factor that may contribute to the exceptional height of the South Sudanese people is their environment.
The region is characterized by high levels of sunlight and heat, which may promote the growth of long bones.
Additionally, the traditional diet of the South Sudanese people is rich in protein and other nutrients that are essential for growth and development, which may also contribute to their impressive stature.
Today, the Dinka people are the tallest in Africa and are of South Sudanese origin.
They have an average height of 6 feet, or 1.83 meters, for men and 5 feet, 10 inches, or 1.78 meters, for women.
Pharaoh Sanakht’s stature was related to genetic or environmental factors.
The exceptional height of the South Sudanese people offers a possible explanation for the Gian Pharaoh’s remarkable physical characteristics.
Discover more giants thru the History.
In Greek mythology, there were the Titans, a race of powerful and god-like beings who were said to have once ruled the world.
Similarly, in Norse mythology, there was the Jotun, a race of giants who were often portrayed as enemies of the gods.
There are several references to giants in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament.
One of the most well-known accounts is the story of David and Goliath, where the Philistine Giant Goliath is said to have been over nine feet tall (1 Samuel 17:4-7).
The Nephilim, a group of beings described as the offspring of the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men,” is also mentioned in Genesis 6:4 and often interpreted as giants.