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A giant lived 1,000 years ago in al-Ándalus, now Andalucía

The remains of the large man were found in Lucena (Córdoba), a city where slaves were castrated

The first step to his discovery came on October 20 2006, when a local of Lucena was walking his dog. The south of the town had overturned the earth to build a new road to circle the town, and the man was led by his dog which then joyfully showed his master a human femur.

Remains of the giant of Lucena - Photo Lucena Museum


Nervous, the dog’s owner called the Local Police, which alerted the Guardia Civil and National Police, large contingents of both arrived in the village which has a population of 43,000.

Daniel Botella the municipal archaeologist told El País, he remembered the phone call that night which told him more bones had been found.
‘At first I thought it was a mass grave from the Civil War’ but after some inspection he arrived at another conclusion: it was an enormous Jewish cemetery with hundreds of tombs. And in one of them he found the remains of the giant who had died at the age of thirty and had been buried naked and wrapped in a shroud, with the face looking at Jerusalem.

The anthropologist, Joan Viciano, who studied the remains when he was working in Granada university said ‘The heavy machinery making the road destroyed part of the giant’s legs, and for that reason we can’t confirm exactly how tall he was’.

The giant presumably lived around the year 1050, according to carbon dating carried out in 14 points around the tomb which was then located in the Caliphate of Córdoba. The people of Lucena called the giant Eliossana (God save us – in Hebrew) and he lived in high splendour.

Aerial view of the Lucena necropolis - Photo Lucena Museum

Lucena was a Jewish city, independent of the Islamic power of Córdoba, Sevilla and Granada. ‘The Muslims and Christians were prohibited from entering the walled city’, explained Botella, the director of the Archaeological and Ethnological Museum in Lucena.

According to Ibn Hawqual, a Muslim traveller in the tenth century, Lucena was a city where the Jews castrated their slaves to then send them to the palaces of the Muslim leaders. He reported the size of the giant as 1.69 metres tall. The archaeologists from Granada University, who have been working at the site, noted the size of the giant’s jawbone was ten centimetres, while the rest of the skeletons measured 7.5 centimetres.

Scientists have established the size of the giant was his infection by a rare illness which affected a gland at the base of the brain, the hypophysis, which ordered the body to create an excessive amount of the growth hormone. At that time Spain saw three or four cases of the condition in every 1,000 inhabitants.

The Lucena site has uncovered 346 tombs, 196 of which held human remains.

Botella remembered the Jewish community tried to block the investigation of the necropolis ‘The Israeli Parliament sent a diplomatic complaint to the Spanish Government. When Moratinos (the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Miguel Ángel) went the United Nations, he found a demonstration of Jews protesting against the excavations at Lucena’.

The bones of the giant had previously gone in 2011 to the Granada University to be submitted to radiographic and microscopic analysis, but they had to be returned immediately to Lucena following the complaints of the Hebrew community, ‘which for them the sacred grave had been desecrated’, remembered Botella.

On December 8 of that year, all the giant’s remains were reburied in a solemn ceremony presided by the most important Rabbi in Spain, Moshe Bendahan, in the presence of more than 40 representatives of Jewish communities from several European countries.