Were There Giants in the Past?


Gog and Magog in Melbourne’s Royal Arcade by John O’Neill

Giants are one of two things. Either they are a race of humanoid beings, much larger than humans, that lived around the dawn of man or they are just very tall people. We know the latter to be real and still very much the case for some unfortunate people with a rare disease known as gigantism. As for the former, there are some written and some oral legends of their existence. Some say there is even hard proof in the form of remains.

One of the earliest accounts of giants occurs in the Genesis portion of the King James Version of the Old Testament. This mention of ancient giants largely accounts for modern belief that ancient giants existed. In Genesis 6:4 in the KJV version of the Old Testament, it says, “There were giants in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”

We know that one version of the Old Testament says, “There were giants . . .” and that, depending on how you interpret the passage, they either bred with humans, were “mighty men” or both. This verse clearly sets the “sons of God and daughters of men” apart from the giants. It does not say, “There were giant sons of god and daughters of men.” However, it is still unclear whether giants were a different race or whether they were just considered different because of their stature. Furthermore, it does not really say much of their stature. Just how big were these giants of Genesis? (Note: There are several translations of this text, all quite different. Some hint that the sons of god are not humans, but perhaps some other godly creatures. There are also other parts of the Bible that mention large people, but none is quite clear.)

This leaves us having to define the word giant, which is near impossible, given the context. Were they actually huge humanoids or were they exceptionally tall people in a world of people demonstrably shorter on average than what we see today? Other mythical texts and oral histories are much clearer on this account, though these other texts are widely disregarded as historical text (apart from religious history), unlike the Bible, which is widely, though not universally, held as non-fiction. Regardless, these other histories have to be taken into account, if one is trying to define the history of giants, so to speak, and potentially find proof that they ever existed.

Accounts of giants exist all over the world and go quite far back. Greek legend has several giants, notably the Cyclops. There also legends in the Middle East, South America and all the way to Australia. They Jewish figures Gog and Magog are actually touted as the guardians of London to this day. Many of these giants’ dimensions are given as quite larger than humans and they are clearly noted as being a different race. That leaves being extremely tall humans out of the question. However, legends, myths and folklore, while containing modicums of truth, are often exaggerated greatly. Therefore, between the myths, legends and the bible, there is not a scrap of incontrovertible evidence answering the question ” Were there giants in the past.” Therefore, we must turn to the fossil record and possible graves of giants.

As for the graves of giants, there is none that contains remains that are significantly taller than the tallest humans and clearly belong to a separate race. Yes, there are graves, old ones, at that, which contain some very tall humans and humanoids, but are they giants? Well, they could be biblical giants, as they could be just about anything humanoid and tall, but they certainly do not belong to legends that speak of giants larger than even the tallest of humans. There are tombs in Sardinia known as giants’ graves. These are not the graves of giants. That is simply the name for the type of tomb, so there may be some confusion there.

Several photos exist on the internet of people excavating the graves of giants. Sadly, these are not evidence. Nearly one and all are proven hoaxes. They depict skeletons, next to humans and machinery, that are of such great proportion they would tower over a home. As far as we can tell, no such creatures ever existed. Hoaxes regarding giant graves are no new phenomenon. In 1869, a man named George Hull staged the discovery of a “mummified giant” in Cardiff, New York. He had a fake 10-ft. mummy made to demonstrate the ludicrousness of blind faith. It worked. Even after he confessed, people flocked to see his mummy.

The fossil record gives us much more hope that the ancients were not simply crazy or dehumanizing people with gigantism. There was once a great ape that stood nearly 10 feet tall. It is known as Gigantopithecus blacki. They are thought to have emerged about one million years ago and to have gone extinct about 100,000 years ago, meaning that they lived among other Homo species and even with Homo sapiens. Could it be that stories of Gigantopithecus blacki actually carried on for that long? Alternatively, did the bones of these huge apes bring about the legends of giants? It is hard to say, given that very few bones have been found, even in modern times.

Giant Skeleton Hoax, retrieved 10/1/11.
Genesis 6:1-4 (KJV), retrieved 10/1/11.

Shelly Barclay writes on a variety of topics from animal facts to mysteries in history. Her main focus is military and political history. She is a writer for the Boston History Examiner, Military History Examiner and the Boston American Revolution History Examiner. She also writes for a local historical society newsletter. Shelly was a professional cook for 10 years and still has a passion for food. She cooks and writes about cooking nearly every day. She produces a wide variety of content, on top of her niches. Shelly is a stepmother, a former military, current veteran wife, sister of four and aunt of seven (so far).