Home History 5,000 years ago, a ‘Giant’ ruled over Ancient Egypt

5,000 years ago, a ‘Giant’ ruled over Ancient Egypt

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An ancient Egyptian Pharaoh called Sa-Nakht—from the Third Dynasty—was ancient Egypt’s first “Giant.”

Sa-Nakht ruled over the Nile River civilization some 1,000 years before the Ramses II came to the throne. Ramses who was considered extremely tall thousands of years ago–with a height of around 1.75 m–was ‘dwarfed’ by the size of Pharaoh Sa-Nakht.


Sa-Nakht or Sanakht has remained an enigma for experts for years since information regarding his rule, when he took charge, when he died and what type of Pharaoh he was, remain ambiguous. What experts have managed to gather over the years comes from a few relics that have survived for more than 5000 years.

If we take a look at the records of ancient Egyptian historian Manetho and the Turin King List, Sa-Nakht ruled over the ancient Egyptian empire for 18 years, but many archaeologists argue how his exact time on the throne remains a mystery. His existence is attested by seal fragments found at mastaba K2 at Beit Khallaf and a graffito— a deliberate mark made by scratching or engraving on a large surface such as a wall.

In recent years, thanks to numerous archaeological discoveries at Abydos, the Sa-Nakht’s position as the founder of ancient Egypt’s Third Dynasty, as recorded by Manetho and the Roya Turin Canon has been seriously undermined, creating more confusion around the ancient Egyptian pharaoh as never before.

Ok, so what DO we know?

We know her was a true GIANT for his time.

It is believed that in 1901, at the small village of Beit Khallaf archeologists excavated the remains belonging to Sa-Nakht. The skeletal remains belonged to a man who stood a staggering 6 feet 1.6 inches, nearly 2.00 meters.

This would have made Pharaoh Sa-Nakht a true giant.

According to previous studies, the average height for men around this time was about 5 feet 6 inches (1.7 m) according to the co-author of the study Michael Habicht.

According to Charles S. Myers, in the book “The Bones of Hen Nekht, an Egyptian King of the Third Dynasty,” Sa-Nakht skull was rather large and capacious. Even though his cranial index was unusually broad and almost brachycephalic, the proportions of his long bones were tropically adjusted like those of most other ancient Egyptians at that time.

Ancient-Egyptian-Giant - 5,000 years ago, a ‘Giant’ ruled over Ancient Egypt
Pictured here is the alleged skull of ancient Egyptian pharaoh Sanakht. Image Credit: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland

The mind-boggling height of Sa-Nakht was unlike anything previously seen. In fact, he was so tall that he would have towered over Ramesses II, the tallest recorded ancient Egyptian pharaoh—around 5 feet 9 inches (1.75 m) tall—who ruled over ancient Egypt 1000 years after Sa-Nakht.

A study published in The Lancet: Diabetes & Endocrinology, indicates how the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh may have suffered from Gigantism. Experts from the University of Zurich who have thoroughly analyzed the remains believe that this is the oldest example of Gigantism in human history.

Contrary to popular belief, Sa-Nakht’s height may not have granted him any social advantages, as, during ancient Egypt’s early dynasties, short statues were preferred, since there were “many small people in royal service,” concluded experts in the study.

“The reasons for this inclination are not always certain,” concluded the co-author of the study Michael Habicht, an Egyptologist from the University of Zurich’s Institute of Evolutionary Medicine.

Reference: the Oldest case of gigantism?

Featured image: Nathan Fowkes Art: The Prince of Egypt / Shutterstock