Gigantism in a 3rd century Roman skeleton

Gigantism in a 3rd century Roman skeleton

A new study has found that the remains of a 3rd century man from Ancient Rome found in a necropolis in Fidenas in 1991, confirm that he suffered from gigantism. It was 202 cm tall, which in Ancient Rome, in that particular period, would be a “giant”In the eyes of others, since the average height was 167 cm. In contrast, the tallest man today is 251 cm.

Gigantism today, affects about three people per million worldwide. The condition begins in childhood, when a malfunction of the pituitary gland produces abnormal growth.

This only confirms that finding the ancient skeleton of a person who has suffered from gigantism is extremely difficult. Previously, a skeleton in Poland and another in Egypt have been identified as “probablecases of gigantism, but in the Roman case is the first clear of this disease, as reported by Simona Minozzi, a paleopathologist at the University of Pisa.

The discovery of the "giant".
When they excavated the necropolis in Fidenas, territory that was indirectly managed by Rome, the Archaeological Superintendency of Rome that directed the work, pointed out that the man's grave found was abnormally long.

However, it was only during a later anthropological examination that they observed that the length of the bones was also found to be abnormal. Shortly after they were sent to Minozzi's group for further analysis.

To know if the skeleton had gigantismThe team examined the bones and found evidence of cranial damage that would correspond to a pituitary tumor, which disrupts the work of the pituitary gland, causing the overproduction of growth hormone.

Other findings such as disproportionately long limbs and evidence that bones continued to grow even in early adulthood supported the diagnosis of gigantism, as shown in the study published Oct. 2 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

His early death, probably between the ages of 16 and 20, could be caused by gigantism, which is associated with cardiovascular disease and respiratory problems, said Minozzi, who emphasized that the actual cause of death remains unknown.

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