…what may be the very best evidence of curiously large skeletons from America’s past were published more than a century ago by the very target of the so-called conspiracies: The Smithsonian Institute (sic).
Underneath the layer of shells the earth was very dark and appeared to be mixed with vegetable mold to the depth of 1 foot. At the bottom of this, resting on the original surface of the ground, was a very large skeleton lying horizontally at full length. Although very soft, the bones were sufficiently distinct to allow of careful measurement before attempting to remove them. The length from the base of the skull to the bones of the toes was found to be 7 feet 3 inches. It is probable, therefore, that this individual when living was fully 7½ feet high. At the head lay some small pieces of mica and a green substance, probably the oxide of copper, though no ornament of copper was discovered. This was the only burial in the mound. (pp. 361-362)
Such a process may well explain the frequent reports that “giant” bones disintegrated as soon as excavators tried to touch them; their integrity had been compromised and the bones shattered. Indeed, in the same Smithsonian report a similar skeleton of more than seven feet at another site was said to have “crumbled to pieces immediately after removal from the hard earth in which it was encased” (p. 115).
Obviously, of course, this kind of expansion won’t add feet to the size of the bones, but enough to turn a slightly above average body into a “gigantic” one. The report makes plain that the body buried in Mound 12—uniquely buried alone in that mound cluster—was a high status individual, and it’s likely that an abnormally but not super-humanly tall man achieved high status by virtue of his height and size. This is hardly unheard of, and it is probably telling that virtually no scholar discussing these mounds or citing the report found anything worth commenting on in the story of the more than seven foot tall man. Reports of Native Americans between six and seven feet tall occur with frequency from Vasco de Gama down to the colonial era, and there isn’t much reason to be shocked by it. Native Americans were consistently taller than Europeans. The Susquehannocks were also said to be giants. A forensic investigation of their skeletons, however, found that Susquehannocks averaged 5’7” in height, but still several inches taller than the Europeans. Nevertheless, occasional individuals of great height popped up from time to time. De Soto’s men said that the great chief Tuscaloosa was nearly seven feet tall.
Sadly, we can’t go visit the site to find out what was in Mound 12. In the 1940s, the Tennessee Valley Authority constructed the Watts Bar Dam, whose reservoir flooded the Holston River valley and submerged all by the highest ground of the former Long Island. In 1941, emergency excavations were conducted in advanced of the dam project. These excavations determined that some of the 19 mounds were in fact natural hills, and no “giant” skeleton was seen. However, the TVA and the Works Progress Administration pressured the archaeologist in charge to excavate and report faster in order to expedite national defense preparations.
But I guess this must be part of the conspiracy. Funny, though, isn’t it that the Smithsonian would publish an account of the giant in their annual report? Funnier still that this occurred more than a decade after David Childress claims that the conspiracy to hide the truth began in 1881. Micah Hanks wants to see the Smithsonian report as proof of “a deeper level of the mystery that has yet to be explored,” but in fact the inclusion of “giant” skeletons in the report makes plain that such skeletons were not being hidden, and the scholars of the era didn’t think they were particularly unusual or unnatural either.