Saturday, September 27, 2008

A bit of light relief


My grandfather was a very tall man (that's not him in the pic!) - they say he was around 6' 8". Whilst he grew vertically, I seem to have grown horizontally. Anyway, here's an article about giant people and their bones which have been found in the USA, Peru and Hawaii. Some great pics from National Geographic too.

So that set me Googling. Here's an incredible list of reported giant remains in the Ohio Valley, USA, from the mid 1800s.

Many years ago I found an intriguing old book in a now-long-gone dark musty (foosty) bookshop in Smithfield called The Giant Cities of Bashan and Syria's Holy Places by the Presbyterian minister Rev Josias Leslie Porter (1823 - 1889), published in 1863. Porter (whose address in the foreword is given as Brandon Towers, Belfast - just off Connsbrook Avenue in Sydenham) seems to have been an explorer / adventurer as well as a clergyman, as well the second President of Queen's University from 1879 until his death in 1889. He spent time in the Holy Land long before the turmoil and wars of the 20th century took hold; he spent 10 years as a missionary to Syria from 1849 - 1859.

The book is dedicated to the Right Honourable Lord Dufferin and Clandeboye, who himself was a renowned international diplomat and antiquarian, who has a large statue to his memory in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. His estate at Clandeboye even to this today contains a breathtaking collection of ancient artefacts that he accumulated during his time spent overseas.

The Holy Land was a largely deserted, abandoned place then, with its antiquities still standing, although by then many were in ruins. Strangely though, Bashan itself was very much intact. Porter wrote in the book that "...the cities built and occupied some forty centuries ago by these old giants exist even yet. I have traversed their streets; I have opened the doors of their houses; I have slept peacefully in their long-deserted halls..." A PDF version is available free on GoogleBooks.

He also wrote: "..."Moses makes special mention of the strong cities of Bashan, and speaks of their high walls and gates. He tells us, too, in the same connection, that Bashan was called the land of the giants (or Rephaim, Deut. iii. 13), leaving us to conclude that the cities were built by giants. Now the houses of Kerioth and other towns in Bashan appear to be just such dwellings as a race of giants would build. The walls, the roofs, but especially the ponderous gates, doors, and bars, are in every way characteristic of a period when architecture was in its infancy, when giants were masons, and when strength and security were the grand requisites. I measured a door in Kerioth: it was nine feet high, four and a half feet wide, and ten inches thick, - one solid slab of stone. I saw the folding gates of another town in the mountains still larger and heavier. Time produces little effect on such buildings as these. The heavy stone slabs of the roofs resting on the massive walls make the structure as firm as if built of solid masonry; and the black basalt used is almost as hard as iron. There can scarcely be a doubt, therefore, that these are the very cities erected and inhabited by the Rephaim, the aboriginal occupants of Bashan..."

So maybe the old Finn McCool / Giant's Causeway legends are right?!