April 20, 2024 at 12:35 pm

Did Ancient Humans Ever Live To Be One Hundred?

by Trisha Leigh

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Statistically speaking, human beings today aren’t expected to live to a hundred years old.

It happens fairly frequently but is by no way the norm.

So, you might assume that people in the ancient world were never afforded the privilege at all.

Is that true, though?

Scientists note that the human lifespan basically doubled over 300,000 years of evolution. Then, after the industrial revolution and major medical and living advancements in the 1800s, it doubled again.

Life expectancy is the average age at death within a population, while lifespan is the maximum (known) attainable age for an individual within that population.

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Historically, high rates of infant mortality kept the first number relatively low.

In Ancient Rome, around 50% of children are believed to have survived into adulthood, and similar rates of infant deaths are found in other ancient societies.

Because of this, the average life expectancy was only around 24-30 years.

That does not mean that people who did survive could not or did not survive for many years afterward.

This study of 300 Greco-Roman men whose lifespans were recorded on their graves reveals an average age of death of 72 years.

The oldest of the individuals was, according to the grave marker, 107. This is impossible to verify, and goes directly against the main school of thought that the statistical probability of surviving to 100 years old before the 19th century was nil.

A separate analysis, however, concluded that it’s likely that at least one person reached the age of 100 by 2500 BCE, when the world’s population was around 100 million people.

There are a few anecdotal accounts in both Egyptian and Roman history to support this assumption.

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One is a papyrus claiming Sixth Dynasty Pharaoh Pepi II reigned for 94 years after assuming the throne at age 6.

Another is historian Pliny the Elder using space in Natural History to name exceptionally old individuals – he claimed to personally know two women who lived well past that 100 year benchmark.

These sources are, of course, not able to be vetted so it all depends on who you trust and how well they could count.

I figure a couple of them could have made it that long.

There are always those lucky (or unlucky) few.