In 1991, archaeologists working at a necropolis in Fidenae came across an unusually long tomb. The recent article “Pituitary Disease from the Past: A Rare Case of Gigantism in Skeletal Remains from the Roman Imperial Age” in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism suggests that this 6-foot 8-inch Roman stands as the earliest preserved example of a skeleton suffering from gigantism. Scientists examining the skull reported damage indicating a pituitary tumor, a condition that can disrupt the pituitary gland and lead to an unusually large release of human growth hormone.
The towering figure, who stood a full 14 inches higher than the average Roman male, passed away between the ages of 16 and 20. While the gigantism likely led to his other health problems, his relatively normal burial in the necropolis suggests that he was part of the community, rather than a curiosity for a Roman elite class infamous for taking pleasure in entertainers with physical deformities.
Read more in National Geographic.
Read Simona Minozzi, Walter Pantano, Francesco di Gennaro, Gino Fornaciari and Paola Catalano, “Pituitary Disease from the Past: A Rare Case of Gigantism in Skeletal Remains from the Roman Imperial Age” in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.