"Not long ago while reading through local town histories in my ongoing research of ancient stonework in New England, I came across a most curious passage in George Sheldon's 1895 The Town History of Deerfield,Ma. Volume 1, page 78. It read:
“At the foot of Bars Long Hill, just where the meadow fence crossed the road, and the bars were placed that gave the village its name, many skeletons were exposed while plowing down a bank, and weapons and implements were found in abundance. One of these skeletons was described to me by Henry Mather who saw it, as being of monstrous size — ‘the head as big as a peck basket, with double teeth all round.’ The skeleton was examined by Dr. Stephen W. Williams who said the owner must have been nearly eight feet high. In all the cases noted in this paragraph, the bodies were placed in a sitting posture, facing the east.”
I remembered reading many years earlier reports of giant skeletal discoveries from mound builder burial sites. In truth I just couldn't digest this information when I first came across it. If these reports were true, why hadn't I heard of this before? Wouldn't archaeologists and anthropologists be extremely interested in these amazing findings? Where are all the bones? So I put aside this whole strange subject for about 15 years. Then an eight-foot skeleton with double rows of teeth decided to get my attention."
Vieira tells a similar story about the origins of his interest in giants in this interview conducted by Hugh Newman (about 1:20 in) and in the first minutes of the first episode of Search for the Lost Giants (about 1:40 in on this copy). In each case he says the Deerfield account is of a skeleton with "double rows of teeth."
I’m sure the story of the account of an “eight foot skeleton with double rows of teeth” is repeated by Vieira elsewhere: it seems to have become part of his arrival story explaining his interest in giants. The problem is that it’s not true. It contains a fundamental misinterpretation of what the account from Deerfield actually says.
The 1895 Deerfield account (transcribed below and available online here) does not say the skeleton had “double rows of teeth.” Rather, it describes the skeleton has having “double teeth all around.” Those are not the same thing. As I discussed in this post and in posts about the skeletons from Ellensburg, Washington, and northern New Mexico, the phrase “double teeth all around” was commonly used in nineteenth century America to describe a set of teeth that, because of their worn state, appeared to consist entirely of “double teeth” aka molars.
The pictures to the left show a comparison of a prehistoric maxilla with heavily worn incisors and canines (source) and the palate of a living person without such heavy wear (source). I have also included a diagram of the human dentition for reference (source). Note how the heavily worn incisors and canines in the archaeological specimen (top) have a very different shape than the unworn incisors and canines of the living person (middle): as the teeth are progressively worn down, their sharply pointed cusps disappear and the biting surface becomes broader in shape. They begin to look more like grinding teeth (or “double teeth,” a 19th century synonym for molars) than cutting teeth. This is why an individual with heavily worn anterior teeth is described as having “double teeth all around.”
The phrase “double teeth all around” used to describe the Deerfield skeleton was not intended to indicate that the skeleton had concentric rows of teeth.
The Deerfield skeleton did not have “double rows of teeth,” and I wonder when and if Jim Vieira will stop making that claim. It's not accurate, and saying it over and over again does not make it so. In this case, the specific words matter.
There may be some accounts for which one can make a good case that the presence of actual “extra” teeth was being described (there are many cases today of individuals with extra teeth - it is not difficult to find them online), but I guarantee there will be many more accounts for which the interpretation of “double rows of teeth” cannot be justified under closer scrutiny. I suggest that giantologists need to go through their "evidence" for double rows of teeth. Evaluate these accounts critically in their contexts, one by one, rather than simply saying there are hundreds or thousands of them. Many of these cases of "double rows of teeth" will disappear.
Up next: Ohio.
Graves have been found singly or in groups in all parts of the town. On the side hill west of Old Fort, it was common, fifty years ago, to turn up Indian skulls while plowing with out disturbing any other bones. At the foot of Bars Long Hill, just where the meadow fence crossed the road, and the bars were placed which gave the village its name, many skeletons were exposed in plowing down a bank, and weapons and implements were found in abundance. One of these skeletons was described to me by Henry Mather who saw it, as being of monstrous size—" the head as big as a peck basket, with double teeth all round." Mather, who was about six feet tall, made the comparison, and says the thigh bones were about three inches longer than his own. The skeleton was examined by Dr. Stephen W. Williams, who said the owner must have been nearly eight feet high. In all the cases noted in this paragraph, the bodies had been placed in a sit ting posture, facing the east. In those that follow they were laid on the right side, as above described.