Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ancient shoe among oldest ever found

5,600-year-old-leather shoe found in Armenian cave
The Toronto Star: The shoe, 1,000 years older than the great pyramid of Egypt and 400 years older than Stonehenge... was in such pristine condition that at first researchers thought it was just a few centuries old. It was stuffed with grass that may have been used to keep the wearer's foot warm or to preserve the shoe's shape for storage...

'This is great luck, enthused archaeologist Ron Pinhasi of University College Cork, Ireland, who led the research team... The team attributed the unusual preservation to the cave's perennially cool temperature and low humidity and a concrete-like layer of sheep dung that sealed everything in and prevented fungi from destroying the remains... The artifacts date from the Chalcolithic or Copper Age, when the first metal tools began appearing.

Prior to the discovery, the oldest known footwear from Eurasia was found on Otzi, the iceman discovered on a glacier in the Otztal Alps on the border between Austria and Italy. Those shoes were about 5,300 years old, but were in relatively poor shape. They were moccasin-type footwear in which the sole is attached to an upper 'sock' with leather thongs. The oldest known footwear -- more sandal than shoe -- were discovered in Missouri and are about 6,900 years old. Made from woven fibers and leather, they are also in poor condition.

Associated Press: [The Armenian shoe] was made of a single piece of leather, laced up the front and back... Otzi's shoes were made of deer and bear leather held together by a single strap. The Armenian shoe appears to be made of cowhide... There was not reinforcement in the sole... The shoe is similar to a type of footwear common in the Aran Islands, west of Ireland, up until the 1950s... '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.
Image source here.