"...All the people we saw there are of great size.
We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim).
Tales of giants abound in the popular cultures of most ages. The human imagination is often drawn to stories about humans who are larger than life. A random sample of such characters, good or evil, might include Goliath, the Cyclops, the giant at the top of Jack's Beanstalk, Paul Bunyan, or even Colossal Kid in the Legion of Super-Heroes. Sometimes this desire for the human-who-is-larger-than-life is expressed in physical terms, as seen in the Colossus of Rhodes, the Sphinx of Egypt, the effigies of Easter Island, and the Statue of Liberty.
The Bible is no exception. Giant stories are particularly prominent in the narratives of Israel's history and pre-history, and the effect they had on Israelite thought can still be felt in the writings of the later poets and prophets.
But, in many cases, the historical tales proved to be the distorted description of the actually happened events or existing characters. May be, the giants indeed lived long ago, and the archeological discoveries can prove their existence?
In this post, we will review several announced findings of the giants’ skeletons, which all unfortunately proved to appear hoaxes.
The Cardiff Giant is considered to be one of the most famous hoaxes in the United States history. It was a 10-foot (3.0 m) tall purported "petrified man" uncovered on October 16, 1869 by workers digging a well behind the barn of William C. "Stub" Newell in Cardiff, New York.
The Giant was a hoax dreamed up in 1868 by George Hull, a New York tobacconist. Most importantly, Hull was an atheist, and he came up with the idea for the Giant after spending the night arguing religion with a Methodist. The factuality of Genesis was in contention, with Hull especially disputing Genesis 6:4 -
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.
Following the heated discussion, Hull decided to give his Methodist antagonist a giant all his own. He hired men in Iowa to carve out a ten foot slab of gypsum. He told them that he was using it for a memorial to Abraham Lincoln. Then Hull had it shipped to Chicago, where he hired a stonecarver to shape into a man; Hull swore the stonecarver to secrecy.
Next, Hull artificially aged the statue, using oils and pigments and beating it with steel. When he got it weathered enough, Hull put the statue on a train to New York, where he had it placed in the ground in the town of Cardiff. At this point, Hull had spent $2,600 on the hoax. As you understand, for 1868, this joke was quite pricey.
To cover up all the traces and make his “discovery” at the right moment, Hull waited almost a year before he hired someone to dig in the area where the giant was buried. When the statue was unearthed, Hull claimed it was a petrified Biblical giant.
People swarmed to the site. Hull charged admission, looking to make back his big investment. Next David Hannum entered the picture. Hannum, leading a group of five men, bought Hull’s Giant for $23,000, making the whole thing a big success for the happy businessman. Hannum put the Giant on display in Syracuse, where it was still a big hit. It was so successful that PT Barnum showed up and offered $50,000 for the Giant. Hannum refused. But Barnum would not be dissuaded, so he hired a man to sneakily make a plaster cast of the Giant and recreate it. Barnum put the ersatz Giant on display in his New York City museum and called Hannum’s Giant a phony. Hannum eventually sued Barnum for calling his Giant a fake. But then Hull confessed to fabricating the original giant and the case was thrown out - you can’t sue somebody for calling your phony a phony.
Giant Skeletons Found in India, Greece, and Saudi Arabia
Around 2007, multiple online reports have referred on the unique discovery of the giant skeleton, found in India. For example, March 2007 article in India's Hindu Voice monthly claimed that a National Geographic Society team, in collaboration with the Indian Army, had dug up a giant human skeleton. "Recent exploration activity in the northern region of India uncovered skeletal remains of a human of phenomenal size," the report read.
Such a real picture, however, is just an innocent fake. The images were lifted from Worth1000, a Web site that hosts contests for digital artists. Created by an artist using the alias IronKite, the collection of pictures placed third in a 2002 competition titled "Archaeological Anomalies 2," which asked contestants to create a hoax archaeological discovery.
The images were so cool, that multiple emails were spreading, claiming that this giant was found in Greece or in Saudi Arabia.
Arabian story was also well carved, using the Islamic beliefs in giants. The giant photo hoax include alleged discovery of a 60- to 80-foot long (18- to 24-meter) human skeleton in Saudi Arabia by an oil-exploration team. The commentary insisted that the Saudi Arabian find was entirely consistent with the teachings of the Koran.
Interesting is that the doctored photo was indeed related to a great archeological discovery. The original photos were taken on 16 September 2000 at an excavation site outside Hyde Park, New York, under the Paleontological Research Institution and the Department of Geological Sciences at Cornell University. What the team of more than 60 scientists, students and volunteers under paleontologist Prof. John Chiment discovered was, however, not the skeleton of a giant human being, but the skeleton of a mastodon, an extinct predecessor of the elephant. Actually, the find included one of the most complete fossils of a mastodon and possibly a less-complete mammoth. The animals lived between 10,000 and 14,000 years ago.
Other Giant Skeletons
While the first two accounts were more or less easily debunked, there were multiple reports, which do not have clear explanation, or confirmation that they are false. Here are just several discoveries, made just on the territory of the USA during the last centuries:
- Large bones in stone graves in Williamson County and White County, Tennessee. Discovered in the early 1800s, the average stature of these giants was 7 feet tall.
- Giant skeletons found in the mid-1800s in New York State near Rutland and Rodman.
- In 1833, soldiers digging at Lompock Rancho, California, discovered a male skeleton 12 feet tall. The skeleton was surrounded by caved shells, stone axes, and other artifacts. The skeleton had double rows of upper and lower teeth. Unfortunately, this body was secretly buried because the local Indians became upset about the remains.
- A giant found off the California Coast on Santa Rosa Island in the 1800s was distinguished by its double rows of teeth.
- A 9-foot, 8-inch skeleton was excavated from a mount near Brewersville, Indiana, in 1879.
- Skeletons of "enormous dimensions" were found in mounds near Zanesville, Ohio, and Warren, Minnesota, in the 1880s.
- In Clearwater Minnesota, the skeletons of seven giants were found in mounds. These had receding foreheads and complete double dentition.
- Near Toledo, Ohio, 20 skeletons were discovered with jaws and teeth "twice as large as those of present day people." The account also noted that odd hieroglyphics were found with the bodies.
- Archeologists discovered very tall, red-haired mummies in 1911 in Lovelock Cave, Nevada.
- In 1931, skeletons from 8 1-2 to 10 feet long were found in the Humbolt lake bed in Nevada.
- In 1932, Ellis Wright found human tracks in the gypsum rock at White Sands, New Mexico. His discovery was later backed up by Fred Arthur, Supervisor of the Lincoln National Park and others who reported that each footprint was 22 inches long and from 8 to 10 inches wide. They were certain the prints were human in origin due to the outline of the perfect prints coupled with a readily apparent instep.
- During World War II, author Ivan T. Sanderson tells of how his crew was bulldozing through sedimentary rock when it stumbled upon what appeared to be a graveyard. In it were crania that measured from 22 to 24 inches from base to crown nearly three times as large as an adult human skull. Had the creatures to whom these skulls belonged been properly proportioned, they undoubtedly would have been at least 12 feet tall or taller.
- In 1947 a local newspaper reported the discovery of nine-foot-tall skeletons by amateur archeologists working in Death Valley.
- According to the San Diego Union, August 5, 1947, the mummified remains of giants were discovered buried near the Arizona-Nevada-California wasteland. The giants' remains were still clothed in strange leather garments. The team of explorers tentatively dated the remains as nearly 80,000 years old.
How many of these discoveries are hoaxes, or simply mistakes? Hard to say, as most of them did not preserve the factual information, pictures, or other fragments of substantial confirmation.
Red-Haired Giants of Nevada
We will just mention the story related to the red-haired mummies, which is also based on the folklore tales of Native Americans. The Paiutes, a Native-American tribe indigenous to parts of Nevada, Utah and Arizona, told early white settlers about their ancestors’ battles with a ferocious race of white, red-haired giants. According to the Paiutes, the giants were already living in the area. The legend says that after many years of warfare, all the tribes in the area finally joined together to rid themselves of the giants. One day as they chased down the few remaining red-haired enemy, the fleeing giants took refuge in a cave. The tribal chiefs had warriors fill the entrance to the cavern with brush and then set it on fire in a bid to force the giants out of the cave. The few that did emerge were instantly slain with volleys of arrows. The giants that remained inside the cavern were asphyxiated.
In 1911, group of archaeologists explored the cavern near Lovelock, Nevada – the same cave the Indians had described in their legends. The scientific discovery was staggering: over 10,000 artifacts were unearthed including the mummified remains of two red-haired giants—one, a female 6.5-feet tall, the other male, over 8-feet tall. Many of the artifacts (but not the giants) can be viewed at the small natural history museum located in Winnemucca, Nevada.
As the excavation of the cave progressed, the archaeologists came to the obvious conclusion that the Paiutes myth was no myth; it was true. What led them to this realization, was the discovery of many broken arrows that had been shot into the cave and a dark layer of burned material under sections of the overlaying guano.
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