Oldest leather shoe steps out after 5,500 years
2010-06-10 0:00

By Randolph E. Schmid | YahooNews.com

About 5,500 years ago someone in the mountains of Armenia put his best foot forward in what is now the oldest leather shoe ever found.

It’ll never be confused with a penny loafer or a track shoe, but the well-preserved footwear was made of a single piece of leather, laced up the front and back, researchers reported Wednesday in PLoS One, a journal of the Public Library of Science.

Worn and shaped by the wearer’s right foot, the shoe was found in a cave along with other evidence of human occupation. The shoe had been stuffed with grass, which dated to the same time as the leather of the shoe — between 5,637 and 5,387 years ago.

"This is great luck," enthused archaeologist Ron Pinhasi of University College Cork in Cork, Ireland, who led the research team.

"We normally only find broken pots, but we have very little information about the day-to-day activity" of these ancient people. "What did they eat? What did they do? What did they wear? This is a chance to see this ... it gives us a real glimpse into society," he said in a telephone interview.


Previously the oldest leather shoe discovered in Europe or Asia was on the famous Otzi, the "Iceman" found frozen in the Alps a few years ago and now preserved in Italy. Otzi has been dated to 5,375 and 5,128 years ago, a few hundred years more recent than the Armenian shoe.

Otzi’s shoes were made of deer and bear leather held together by a leather strap. The Armenian shoe appears to be made of cowhide, Pinhasi said.

Older sandals have been found in a cave in Missouri, but those were made of fiber rather than leather.

The shoe found in what is now Armenia was found in a pit, along with a broken pot and some wild goat horns.

But Pinhasi doesn’t think it was thrown away. There was discarded material that had been tossed outside the cave, while this pit was inside in the living area. And while the shoe had been worn, it wasn’t worn out.
It’s not clear if the grass that filled the shoe was intended as a lining or insulation, or to maintain the shape of the shoe when it was stored, according to the researchers.

The Armenian shoe was small by current standards — European size 37 or U.S. women’s size 7 — but might have fit a man of that era, according to Pinhasi.

He described the shoe as a single piece of leather cut to fit the foot. The back of the shoe was closed by a lace passing through four sets of eyelets. In the front, 15 pairs of eyelets were used to lace from toe to top.

There was no reinforcement in the sole, just the one layer of soft leather. "I don’t know how long it would last in rocky terrain," Pinhasi said.

He noted that the shoe is similar to a type of footwear common in the Aran Islands, west of Ireland, up until the 1950s. The Irish version, known as "pampooties" reportedly didn’t last long, he said.

"In fact, enormous similarities exist between the manufacturing technique and style of this (Armenian) shoe and those found across Europe at later periods, suggesting that this type of shoe was worn for thousands of years across a large and environmentally diverse region," Pinhasi said.

While the Armenian shoe was soft when unearthed, the leather has begun to harden now that it is exposed to air, Pinhasi said.

Oh, and unlike a lot of very old shoes, it didn’t smell.

Pinhasi said the shoe is currently at the Institute of Archaeology in Yerevan, but he hopes it will be sent to laboratories in either Switzerland or Germany where it can be treated for preservation and then returned to Armenia for display in a museum.

Pinhasi, meanwhile, is heading back to Armenia this week, hoping the other shoe will drop.

Article from: news.yahoo.com
Images: Source



Related Articles
Shoe Image Gallery
Egypt’s Cave Underworld Under Investigation – Egyptian archaeological team move in to find answers
Archaeologists - Graveyards date back to Roman & bronze era unearthed in Syria
Archaeologists discover 2,700-year-old tomb in Mexico
Archaeologists find graveyard of sunken Roman ships
Italian archaeologists find lost Roman city of Altinum near Venice
Archaeologists ’used to destroy heritage’
Ötzi the Iceman - Wikipedia


Latest News from our Front Page

Boris Nemtsov, Putin Foe, Is Shot Dead in Shadow of Kremlin - A Staged Shooting?
2015-02-28 22:37
NY Times: Boris Nemtsov, Putin Foe, Is Shot Dead in Shadow of Kremlin Mr. Nemtsov, a former first deputy prime minister of Russia, was killed in central Moscow in the highest-profile assassination in Russia during the tenure of President Vladimir V. Putin. A Staged Shooting? ... Why does the dead body of fitness enthusiast Boris Nemtsov have a pot belly? The Anti-New York Times doesn't ...
Holocaust, Hate Speech and Were the Germans so Stupid?
2015-02-28 20:31
Description form YouTube: This is an updated version of the video which was taken down by YouTube following a spurious copyright-infringement claim. It addresses issues regarding claims that Zyklon B in liquid form gives off fumes at temperatures below 0º C. As the world approaches the brink of a new Middle East crisis this time involving Syria, clearly at the behind-the-scenes ...
The Jewish Roots of Leonard Nimoy and What the ‘Live Long and Prosper’ Hand Symbol Really Means
2015-02-28 0:20
Leonard Nimoy first saw what became the famous Vulcan salute, “live long and prosper,” as a child, long before “Star Trek” even existed. The placement of the hands comes from a childhood memory, of an Orthodox Jewish synagogue service in Boston. The man who would play Spock saw the gesture as part of a blessing, and it never left him. “Something ...
Baby born still INSIDE his amniotic sac is hailed a ‘medical miracle’ by doctors [Video]
2015-02-27 22:46
What an incredible miracle… Not only was the little boy three months early – he was born inside his amniotic sac. I’ve never heard of this happening before. If you look at the picture, you can see him clearly with his little arms and legs curled up. He was still being given oxygen by his mom until the sac was ...
California Infant Dies after 8 Vaccines, Family Gets Him Back from Hospital Cremated
2015-02-27 21:55
Parents in California are distraught after losing their infant son after being vaccinated. He died in his sleep and was taken to the hospital already deceased. Hospital staff ruled his death as sudden infant death syndrome. The couple was told an autopsy was required to be performed on their son. After returning home, waiting to get an update, they never received ...
More News »