Why spartans were so tall

Have you ever wondered how tall were spartans?

We collected all the known facts and tried to be as precise as possible when answering the question.

To find out why spartans were so tall, what was their average height and other interesting facts, move forward and read the article.

How Tall Were Spartans?

If you ask “How tall were Spartans” you may get a more detailed reply than you expect. Ancient Spartan men were between 5 feet 7 inches and 5 feet 10 inches tall. Thanks to thousands of artifacts, written records, and oral histories from Ancient Greece, the height of the average male Spartan is no mystery. Flip through the pages of history here in this article to learn more about the height of Spartans and their culture.

– How Tall Was the Average Spartan Male Warrior?

At an average height of 5 feet 9 inches, the Spartan soldier was slightly taller than his peers, the Athenians, as well as other Greeks. By current day standards, this doesn’t seem very tall. But, by the standards of antiquity, two inches of height is significant.

Most Ancient Greeks had an average height of 5 feet 7 inches during the Classical period, the time in which Leonidas, a famous Spartan warrior, and King of Sparta, lived. Men who lived in Athens, the competing city-state and rival of Sparta, were on average about 5 feet 7 inches. Reports between city-states exaggerated the brawn and bulk of Spartans to the academic and thoughtful Athenians to inspire fear and discourage war.

This doesn’t mean that the Ancient Greeks were short, however. It means that current-day men (and women) are taller than the Ancient Greeks.

Why?

It’s a simple answer: humans today have better nutrition and improved health, especially during childhood. In infancy and adolescence, the bones grow rapidly and are extremely sensitive to changes in vitamins and minerals. Over the last three hundred years, infant and childhood nutrition has improved so that human beings could grow to their genetic potential – which is taller.

Why Are Spartans So Tall?

There are two theories as to why the Spartans were taller than the surrounding peoples: eugenics and better nutrition.

– Eugenics Theory

Why are spartans so tall

Spartans were notorious for choosing only the ‘best’ – land, areas to conquer, and food. This extended even to their children.

Spartans were ruthless in their selection of who would live and who would die. They did this by selecting the most ‘fit’ newborns and leaving crippled, small, or ugly infants to die by throwing them in a chasm.

When a child was born, a group of elders examined it for any birth defects and considered how big it was. If it was too small or looked sickly and unlikely to live, it was killed. Another common Spartan custom was to dunk a newborn child into wine and see if he or she survived.

These eugenic practices may have inadvertently removed genes for shorter people from the Spartan gene pool, leaving taller genes present, since a larger baby was more likely to be tall.

– Nutrition Theory

The nutrition theory postulates that Spartans had a more nutritious diet than other peoples in the Mediterranean, enabling them to grow taller during infancy and adolescence, critical periods of growth. This theory relies on data from the current day – over the last three hundred years, people in countries affected by the Industrial Revolution grew taller. In Greece, the average height of a man is now 5 feet 9 inches.

Spartans also had access to inland pastures and forests where they could hunt wild boar, fowl, and deer. Other Greek city-states relied almost entirely on fish and seafood for their protein sources, a move which ostensibly could have kept them shorter due to restricted protein quality intake.

By selecting only the ‘best’ foods, the Spartans might also have inadvertently equipped their bodies to grow past the status quo of average genetics. The average spartan height and weight were 5 feet 7 inches and 165 lbs.

FAQs

– How Tall Was Leonidas, King of Sparta?

Researchers don’t have any data on how tall King Leonidas of Sparta was. This contrasts with the movie 300, which portrays Leonidas as much taller than his countrymen. It can be assumed that this was done for dramatic effect, not historical accuracy. Leonidas might have been the same height as his fellow soldiers in Sparta’s vast and well-organized armies, a few inches taller, or an inch or two shorter.

Leonidas was one of many famous warriors of Sparta. Most notably, he was king of Sparta in the fifth century BC. He is famous for his daring acts of bravery and his last stand in the Battle of Thermopylae against Xerces, king of Persia, during the Persian War.

With about 300 other Spartans, 700 Helot slaves, and about 6,000 troops from other Greek city-states, Leonidas fell to the Persians in the Battle of Thermopylae. This battle has been memorialized in history as well as current-day movies. Their historical accuracy may be suspect, however.

– Why Were the Spartans So Strong?

Ancient Spartans were strong because they constantly engaged in a strict regime of training, sparring, and battling. Their entire culture was built around militaristic conquest. They had little time for other activities, which they made slaves do.

Physically, Spartan men were strong because they spent most of their time in military barracks training from the time they were seven years old. Spartan men had to serve in the Spartan military – and live in the barracks – until they were thirty years old. Only then could they return home and live in a civilian dwelling.

The Spartan army was strong because of its concentration on teamwork and unity. The Spartans carried shields with them and walked in arrangements that opposing armies found it challenging to break up and scatter. The Spartan army was strong, not because of the individual might of its soldiers, but because of the high level of communication and teamwork among its men.

– What Did Spartans Really Look Like?

Spartan people had typical Mediterranean coloring – olive skin, dark hair, and darker eyes. Red hair and light eyes were considered signs of beauty or handsomeness.

Because of a lifetime of conditioning, drills, and sparring, the Spartans weren’t stocky or bulky. Instead, they were lithe and fit with lean, well-defined muscles.

Spartans took care of themselves on and off the battlefield. When they weren’t exercising or working on battle techniques, they used simple methods to adorn their appearance. Strict Spartan law restricted people from flashy clothing – it emphasized wealth or status – so there were other ways that people compensated for those requirements to show their individual style.

Long hair was also a style choice of many Spartan men. Men took great care to keep their hair neat and tidy since it could influence their enemies’ impression of them on the battlefield. This meant braiding the hair into tight braids that could be held back with ties. Similar ties and braids were done on beards as well.

– Were the Ancient Greeks and Romans Tall?

No, the ancient Greeks and Romans were not tall compared to other cultures and societies. While the Spartans were tall, with an average male height of 5 feet 7 inches, the average Roman man was between 5 feet 4 inches and 5  feet 7 inches tall. The only exception to this rule were Roman soldiers, who were generally taller.

– How Tough Were Spartan Warriors?

Warriors from Sparta were tough by any standards. Young boys left their homes and mothers at the tender age of seven to train in a barracks with hundreds of other men. They received mentorship and training from boys their age and older men. Training included a wide range of activities, including swordsmanship, shield use, archery, and hand-to-hand combat.

Then, at the age of 20, Spartan men ‘graduated‘ from the barracks. Most went home and got married, but then returned to the barracks, where they were legally required to live until the age of 30. Even after reaching 30 and moving to a civilian home and raising a family, most Spartan men didn’t live to old age.

Men were required to be part of the active military reserve until 60. While at home, they participated in torturing and persecuting the helots, a people the Spartans had enslaved to work for them. As an object lesson to their sons, to show how much the Spartans were morally superior to the helots, a Spartan father might get his helot slave drunk so that he made a fool of himself.

Spartan men experienced a physically and emotionally taxing existence from an early age. It hardened them into warriors with a machine-like sense of order, organization, and obligation to their mother country: Sparta. This dedication to death in battle, the glory of martyrdom, and obsession with military conquest struck fear into the hearts of surrounding nations and city-states.

Conclusion

How tall were spartans

Ancient Sparta captures the imagination like few other historical cultures. While dramatically different in a multitude of ways, these ancient people had more in common with us than we might think.

  • Ancient Spartan men were between 5 feet 7 inches and 5 feet 10 inches.
  • Spartans were taller than their neighbors, either because of infant eugenics practices or improved nutrition from selective farming and trading.
  • Spartan men were strong as a result of constant and continual physical training from boyhood well into middle age.
  • The true height of King Leonidas of Sparta is unknown.
  • Spartans took care of their appearance, had a unique self-discipline, and were legendary around the Mediterranean Sea.

Thanks to rapidly unfolding archaeological research in Greece and the Mediterranean, modern society knows many details about Spartans, their unique way of life, and their physical characteristics.