Oldest leather shoe steps out after 5,500 years
2010 06 10
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
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
Pyramid of the Sun Turning to Dust
2014 03 10
All we are is dust in the wind, so the saying goes, but it’s troubling when it happens to great ancient monuments that we assume will be around forever.
Pyramid of the Sun, Pirámide del Sol, Teotihuacán, México (Wikimedia Commons)
New Scientist reports that the Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico is turning to dust and could collapse:
The Pyramid of the ...
Elephants Never Forget A Voice
2014 03 10
According to a new study, wild elephants are discerning listeners who can differentiate between various human languages, genders, ages, and more. Such surprising skills continue to marvel researchers.
Not all the intellectual surprises are on the large animal front. Research has shown that crows are extremely intelligent, some dogs recognize over a thousand words and have the intellect of a toddler, ...
RIP, psychiatry: the “chemical-imbalance” theory is dead
2014 03 10
This one is big.
Dr. Ronald Pies, the editor-in-chief emeritus of the Psychiatric Times, laid the theory to rest in the July 11, 2011, issue of the Times with this staggering admission:
“In truth, the ‘chemical imbalance’ notion was always a kind of urban legend — never a theory seriously propounded by well-informed psychiatrists.”
The point is, for decades the whole basis of ...
Space Elevator By 2035, Says International Academy of Astronautics
2014 03 10
Going up? Way up?
The space elevator - An idea which used to be pure speculative science fiction has gained renewed interest.
ExtremeTech.com lays out the technical challenges of the audacious (crazy?) plan to extend the 100,000-kilometers-long tether into space. Especially problematic to the mission is the fact that the materials and technology needed to create the space elevator don’t actually exist ...
One million Britons descended from Vikings says new study
2014 03 10
A new study is showing that approximately 930,000 people can claim to be of direct Viking descent in Great Britain today, especially in the north of Scotland. The ancient Norse peoples’ influence is still being felt in modern times.
Around one million Britons are directly related to Vikings, with people from the north of Scotland most likely to have Viking ...
|More News » |