Listen to Article
Paleontologists recently unveiled what they believe is the world's oldest closed-toe shoe. The specimen is so perfectly preserved, that it was initially believed to be only 600-700 years old. However, a Radiocarbon dating test revealed that the shoe is at least 5,500 years old, dating all the way back to 3,500 B.C. or what is thought to be the start of civilization.
The find is extremely important and exciting because plant and leather artifacts degrade so rapidly, that it is unusual to find anything, let alone such a well-preserved specimen from that period. The shoe's location, deep beneath layers of sheep dung, inside a cool dark cave are the key reasons for its pristine condition.
Carved from a single piece of cowhide, the custom-made shoe, was hand-stitched with leather thread and tanned with vegetable oil. While in the modern world that would classify as a designer shoe and cost thousands of dollars, scientists believe that this piece of footwear belonged to a farmer - Most likely female, given its small size.
Paleontologists believe that while the shoe was primarily to protect against the rough terrain and extreme temperatures, style still played a big role and they believe that different styles of shoes were worn by different tribes to distinguish their identity from one another.
Alongside the shoe, the scientists also found horns belonging to wild goats, red deer bones and an upside down broken pot. They are not sure if this is just an assortment of random items, or if they have some symbolic meaning, and are hoping to find out more as they continue digging inside the cave dubbed Areni-1.
Prior to this find, the oldest closed toe-shoe was the one worn by Otzi the Iceman, who roamed the Austrian Alps a few hundred years later. What is interesting is how 'sophisticated' his footwear was compared to this recent find in Armenia. Otzi wore shoes made from not one, but three different materials - The base was made from brown bearskin, while warm and fuzzy deerskin made up the sides. A bark-string net that could be pulled up to tighten the shoe, completed this amazingly stylish footwear. Makes our modern-day footwear seem a little drab doesn't it?
Sources: Nationalgeographic.com, dailymail.co.uk,geekologie.com