[Updated 22 May 2010]
I was intrigued recently when someone sent me a series of photos purporting to show the skeletons of giant humans excavated at archaeological sites. Here is an example to the right.
However, some quick Internet research revealed that these photos are all doctored. You can see all the photos at About.com — here is an explanation and analysis by urban-legends specialist David Emery: “Giants in Greece — Analysis.”
From the detail shown below, you can see that the image of the skull is inconsistent with the rest of the photo — the inserted segment is flat, and one of the workers at the site even appears to have his foot on the skull:
[Update added 22 May 2010] A reader asked about another photo in the series, showing a skeleton with a hole in its temple, lying in a grave. I believe she is referring to this one (linked from the About.com article):
David Emery points out that the skull in this photo show “incongruously bright highlights on the teeth and around the edges of the gaping temple wound.” I’m no expert at analyzing photos, but to me the skeleton in the photo looks like a black-and-white image, whereas the surface of the ground surrounding the hole seems to be in color, which is certainly the case in the image of the two people in the photo.
Here’s a detail showing the suspicious bright highlights on the image of the skull:
All that said, just because somebody was able to fake some photos and a bunch of people believed them only proves that somebody can use image-editing software to fake photos and fool other people. It doesn’t mean that the Bible’s accounts about the Nephilim and other giants aren’t true.
The Bible’s account of the Nephilim appears in Gen. 6:1,2,4 — you can look up Bible texts here. Apparently the Nephilim were hybrids resulting from the marriage of materialized angels and human women. Most likely they were sterile and had no descendants themselves. They would not have survived the global deluge.
The historical account in the Bible does not say how tall the Nephilim were. It does, however, say that the height of the Philistine warrior Goliath was six cubits and a span, which would make him about 2.9 meters or 9 1/2 feet tall — see 1 Sam. 17:4.
This height is not much greater than the heights of some humans recorded in modern times — see this list at Wikipedia of the world’s tallest people.
[Update added 26 Nov. 2013: I've recently written a blog entry exploring how large a human could actually get, given the limitations of physics and biology -- see "Could Giant Humans Exist?"]
It’s not impossible that fossil remains of pre-flood humans are among those that have been discovered in the past or that might be found in the future. However, you need to keep in mind that human (and animal) remains normally decompose completely without leaving any trace. Also, the flood waters would probably have been unimaginably violent and destructive and could have covered human remains with hundreds of meters of sediments, making them rare and difficult to recover.
One intriguing archaeological discovery was announced by a group that conducted digs very recently on Mount Ararat, where they uncovered a wooden structure high on the mountain that some believe is the ark of preservation built by the patriarch Noah — see “Group Claims New Noah’s Ark Find on Ararat.”
[Update from 11 Sept 2014] Readers interested in this post might want to know that I have started up an email newsletter. If you want to keep up with my writings about ancient history from a Biblical perspective, as well as progress on my historical fiction series The Edhai, please follow this link to sign up now: http://eepurl.com/2U3Uf
ARK — 10 May 2010