General Question

zensky's avatar

Theoretically, 5000 years ago, could man have lived to be a hundred years of age?

Asked by zensky (13367points) October 16th, 2011

Or better yet, is there proof somewhere of it (forensic anthropology)? Please link your source.

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17 Answers

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zensky's avatar

Looking for scientific proof. Sources linked will be appreciated.

njnyjobs's avatar

Probably not… there was no technology then to cure illnesses.
Check this interesting article – Life Span of Ancient Man

zenvelo's avatar

Sure, why not? There are always outliers, it is not like ancient man had an expiration date. But proving it is difficult unless someone finds a tomb with some kind of decipherable history of the occupant.

Fundamentalists believe Adam lived over 800 years, and Seth 912, and Methuselah 969. Genesis 5:1–32

marinelife's avatar

Not with the quality of disease and nutrition plus the hard work just to survive.

zensky's avatar


@njnyjobs – Though interesting, read the disclaimer at the bottom – the “article” actually makes no sense.

TheIntern55's avatar

I don’t have a link because I read it in a book that I can’t recall the name of, but I read that humans are genetically designed to live 100 plus years. However, disuse and diease kill us off in our 70’s and 80’s. The disease one probably killed most humans 5,000 years ago.

LuckyGuy's avatar

That article make sense to me. It shows a random group of Neanderthals who lived 40,000 years ago with an average age of 35.

It then shows a group of adults that lived 2000 BC who lived to an average age of 38 years.

It then shows Iron age ()700 BC to 0) life spans with an average age of ~42 years

Finally it mentions middle ages (to 1000 AD with none living longer than 45 years

Kings from 1000 to 1600AD lived an average of ~49.5 years
Royal court… lived oh you can read it yourself.

Didn’t the Egyptians keep good records?

Sure there was the 6 sigma group who outlived the general population. They were, no doubt, the Wall street traders of the day living off everyone else’s hard work.

marinelife's avatar

“Life expectancy at birth in Hong Kong is 84.8 years for a female and 78.9 for a male, while in Swaziland, primarily because of AIDS, it is 31.3 years for both sexes.[73] While one in five Europeans is 60 years of age or older, only one in twenty Africans is 60 years of age or older.[74] The number of centenarians (humans of age 100 years or older) in the world was estimated by the United Nations at 210,000 in 2002.[75] At least one person, Jeanne Calment, is known to have reached the age of 122 years; higher ages have been claimed but they are not well substantiated. Worldwide, there are 81 men aged 60 or older for every 100 women of that age group, and among the oldest, there are 53 men for every 100 women.” Source

incendiary_dan's avatar

Many Lakota people were renowned for their longevity prior to colonization, many living past 90. No sources now, but I’ll try to dig some up. Many indigenous cultures have such longevity, once people make it past the tough period of childhood.

ETpro's avatar

Otzi the oldest known naturally mummified human was born circa 3,300 years BCE and killed in a skirmish or accident (tramua injury) when he reached 45. The earliest writing, cuneform dates from about 5,000 years ago, but accounts of people living to be 800 or 900 years old are likely exagerations, as was gommon in the writing of the time. Since 3 of 5 children died in early youth and few survived into their 40s, anyone old enough to be white haired would be revered as an ancient of days and man or woman of great wisdom.

Aside from the diseases we have wiped out, people died then from the same sorts of causes they die from today. While a lot of us, as noted above by @marinelife, currently live to be 100 or more, very few of us make it to that point without ever having medical intervention for a potentially life threatening aliment or injury. So I doubt if centenarians were common in the stone age. I would have died of an infection in my tonsils before turning 10 in that time. But here’s evidence some did make it to 100 or more.

zensky's avatar

I’ll try this again: I am looking for actual proof, forensic evidence, that would show that a man could live to 80–100 years of age at the time of Abraham, around 5500 years ago. Not statistics, not how long people can live today or in the middle ages, and theories based on fact.

The debate was based on the idea that Abraham, who in the Bible is said to have lived to the age of 175, could in fact live to the ripe old age of 80–100 – as we do today. I would like to see some proof of that possibility.

ETpro's avatar

@zensky The most solid proof I could find was in that last link I provided. Unfortunately, while the author claims “the data support” centenarians in the stone age and early bronze age, the author only provided links that cover data from historical reports, as in the early Egyptian Pharaoh Pepi II having lived to well past 100. Since he ruled c. 2278 BC – c. 2184 BC he was Pharaoh for 94 years, and it seems unlikely he ascended to the throne at less than 6 years of age.

choreplay's avatar

I’m curious about this subject as well, but specifically, biologically how long is the human body designed to last. So without disease, accident or any other outside factor how long would the human body last and what is the medical basis. I would like to see biologist or medical experts answer that.

@zensky is that along the lines of what you are asking?

With regard to your question, two factors might suggest longer life span, first Abraham was pretty deep into his faith and even if you don’t subscribe to that and see it as a delusion it still induces an inner peace that enhances physical health. Additionally in a less populous world wouldn’t there be less of a chance of disease spreading?

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, definitely, but it was extremely rare. For the survival of our species it was beneficiary to have old people take care of young children as well and pass on their wisdom. See

zensky's avatar

Thanks buddy – that was very helpful – I should’ve just asked you.

SmartAZ's avatar

You can’t get a straight answer to such a question because so many people believe their assumptions are established facts. They assume that nobody can live without modern medical treatments, and on that basis they reject all records that say something different. Of course, the records from that era are not great. Sorry, but there it is: lousy records and lousy analysis.

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