Ancient Egypt may have once had a giant ruling over it, a new study has revealed.
The ancient Pharaoh Sa-Nakht is now believed to be the first-ever and oldest case of gigantism – or acromegaly – ever discovered. Ruling Egypt 4,700 years ago, Sa-Nakht would have towered over his contemporaries, although he would be relatively average today.
Standing at 187 cm tall, the ancient Pharaoh was nearly 25 cm taller than the average ancient Egyptian man, according to the study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. Egyptian men were typically about 162 cm, and the tallest-ever Pharaoh previously discovered – Ramesses II – was just about 173 cm.
For the study, Michael E. Habicht from the Institute of Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zurich, and his colleagues examined photographs and measurements of the bones believed to be those of Sa-Nakht. They found evidence of "exuberant growth," which is typically a sign of acromegaly, according to Atlas Obscura.
"From all known royal mummies, no other king or queen fulfills the requirement of gigantism," the team wrote in their study.
The skeleton was first discovered in 1901, and it's not 100 percent clear whether the remains actually belong to Sa-Nakht. However, they are commonly associated with the ruler, although little is known about him or his rule.
In any case, even if the skeleton does not belong to a Pharaoh, archaeologists say it definitely belonged to someone important in society, as he was buried with "with honors in an elite mastaba-tomb."
From the evidence archaeologists have, it seems that tall individuals received no special treatment, respect or marginalization in ancient Egyptian society. At the same time, Pharaohs were typically taller than the general population, which is likely due to better nutrition and access to superior healthcare.
Conversely, as Atlas Obscura points out, dwarves were regarded highly by ancient Egyptians. Many believed them to have divine powers and they routinely served as direct assistants to the Pharaohs.