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


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

Body part measurements and height activity


Body data



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.


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

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

He also included horse body part ratios.

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


Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes
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