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Thread: Where people in the [ast better than they are now? page

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    Gathwh's Avatar
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    Where people in the [ast better than they are now?

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    Do you believe that ancient man was stronger/faster/better than modern man? I am not sure about all ancient men, but you look at greek statues and drawings from the Renaissance these people are ripped and bigger than modern people. I do realize that these people did not eat a paleolithic diet, but they didn't eat sugar, seed oils, or modern wheat. I would wonder if they are exaggerated like modern cartoons. Also the art would probably be based off of the richer people who would eat more meat, etc. I remember that the Kitivans looked pretty good too.

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    Artistic interpretations were based on ideals, not reality. And there were plenty of Renaissance painters who painted traditional dumpy folks. They were learning about the body, anatomy, about "self" idealization as opposed to religious idealization...in reality they lacked a variety of nutrients and were shorter...not bigger. The farm-hands probably were ropey and muscular and probably had good stamina, yes, but they probably also had a good layer of fat on them too.

    The rich were regularly painted as fat and slovenly unless they were actually patronizing (paying) the artists to - again - paint idealized versions of them. The rich were often lazy and gluttonous, the poor were malnourished and overworked. No one looked like the statue of David.

    But they also didn't have modern medical advances, serious information about nutrition, etc. - the majority of folks were in poverty and often sick, lacking basic understanding of viruses and bacteria. Infant mortality was high. Lifespans were low...this chart only goes back to 1800!

    Of course, this varies widely depending on what age you talk about. The Renaissance is not really "ancient". Talk about Ancient Greece where most food was meat and olives and people were constantly at war...?

    Right now I think we have the best of both worlds available. Knowledge and the ability to put it into action.
    Last edited by carlh; 12-16-2010 at 06:28 AM.

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    Ancient man on average had to be in better shape then the athletic types of modern men. It was survival of the fittest. What you describe in the artwork is modern man with all the wonderful trappings of the modern world even 2000 years ago. You have to go back to before the time of oil paintings to get the real ancient man.

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    In Manthropology there is the story of the Athenians deciding (under their often mob rule hysteria) voting to wipe out the population of one of their tribute islands for some insult or other. They despatched a trireme with 300 rowers and soldier to do the job 24 hours later they changed their minds and despatched another trireme to catch the first one...with 24 hours heads start and the island only 48 hours away no-one thought this impossible. The second trireme caught up with the first one.

    These were incredibly fit and healthy people and this was nothing extraordinary at the time.

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    The thing I most wonder about in this department is the big change in the oxygen level of our air. It isn't talked about, but we've depleted the oxygen from our air drastically. There is plenty of science to say that we're stupider and grouchier and slower, slower recovering, etc. I have to imagine that diseases that rely on low oxygenation, like cancer and heart disease, are more prevalent than they would be in a more oxygen rich environment.

    Like many of these modern changes, I expect some people are more genetically prepared to adapt than others. I do think it is safe to say that for most of history, humans were, on the whole, smarter, quicker and calmer than we are now, just based on the big change in ambient oxygen levels.

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    Gathwh's Avatar
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    Yes Slacker, but what about mountain peoples like the Tibetans and peoples of Peru? Don't they do pretty well? Also the human body can adapt to provide much more oxygen than it does, it just needs the stimulus of exercise and or a hypobaric chamber. If we were that badly off couldn't we just adapt?

    Carl, sorry I might have mis-spoke. When I said Renaissance paintings of richer people I talk of the ones of knights, not the kings. I am aware that a lot of the kings were slovenly and overweight. Wasn't the Vitruvian man of Micheal Angelo a self portrait though? He looks in good enough shape.

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