Body Proportions, height, body parts, bones, and Egyptian art

Overview

This page includes activities for: body part measurements & height, their ratios, Egyptian art use of proportion, and Greek sculpture and more. Learners can explore proportion of body parts and a person's height with diagrams, scatter plots, graphs, and regression lines.

Focus questions

• Are body parts proportional to a person's height?
• Do different peoples body parts have the same proportions?
• In other words is the length of my arm one-half my height?
• Is it the same for other people?
• How did the ancient Egyptians use proportions and a grid system to draw their art?

Body part measurements and height activity

Procedure

• Measure a variety of body parts for several people and record the data in a table.
• Include the ulna bone. With your arm stretched out from your body and thumb pointing to your right, measure from the bump on the inside of your arm below your wrist along the inside of the arm to where it ends with the bump it makes at your elbow. You can use it to compare to your height and other body parts and later to average ulna bone to height equation.
• Record your data along with other classmates in a table.

Body data

Person

Measured

Height Ulna bone Body part from _______
to _______
Body part from _______
to _______
Body part from _______
to _______
Body part from _______
to _______

Review the class data. Is there any body part that seems most likely to be proportional for all the people in your collection of data? For example is a person's height divided by the length of one body part get approximately the same result for most of the data?

What formulas did your data suggest?

What might suggest discrepancies?

What arguments can be made for and against using only one measurement?

Graphing class data for one body part and height.

• Select a promising set of data to graph. A set of data that has predictive potential.
• For example if the arm length looks to be proportional to the height, graph the arm length as the independent variable or manipulated variable or x. If necessary, see review graph fact sheet, against the height (dependent variable, responding variable, or y).
• Draw a line that is as close as possible to as many of the data points. (Regression line)
• What does the line represent? the relationship of bone length to height.
• The closer all the data points are to the line, the better the predictive value of the relationship.
• The equation of the line, can be found with linear regression software, if available.
• Decide if the data are or are not proportional, and explain the reasoning used to arrive at the conclusion for the set of data used.

A Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST) uses these formulas.

• Men: Predicted height cm = 79.2 + (3.60 · ulna length cm)
• Women: Predicted height cm = 95.6 + (2.77 · ulna length (cm)

A study to determine the accuracy of these formulas, across an ethnic diverse population, collected measurements of healthy adults from different ethnic groups. Measurements of their body height and the length of their ulna. The published results include interesting scatter plots of the data that show the data relationship to the MUST regression and the regression of the actual data by ethnic and gender groups.

While there is variation in averages between males and females and across ethnic groups, Calculations for the ulna and other bones: humerus, radius, femur, tibia are available at this Source.

Egyptian art

Early Egyptians sorta discovered the idea of body parts being proportional and used it in their art. For example, to draw people they could used proportions and a grid to draw people. Explore the grid example, from an ancient artifact and see how it compares to modern humans.

How do the proportions compare to the measurements in the activity body part measurements?

More art

Find some more examples to explore. For example:

Greek sculpture, Doryphoros of Polykleitos, wrote a book titled: Canon about 540 BCE. In it he recorded his ideas on the ideal proportions of the human body. His measurements started at the top of the head as zero and go to the bottom of the foot: Source

• 0 - top of head
• 1 - bottom of the chin
• 2 - middle of breast
• 3 - top of pelvis
• 4 - bottom of ischium bone
• 5 - above knee
• 6 - mid calf
• 7 - inside ankle bone
• 7 1/2 - bottom of foot

He also included horse body part ratios.

What about proportions for the Barbie doll, Comic superheroes, different sports, fashion models, ...