Shoes! Ancient Fashion Makes a Comeback

Archaeologist Dr Ron Pinhasi of UCC holds up a picture of an ancient shoe

The oldest known shoe, a 5,500 year old size 7 women’s (37 European), was unearthed from a Copper Age dig site by Archaeologist Diana Zardaryan. It was discovered in a pit inside a cave in the Vayotz Dzor province of Armenia. Fortunately the shoe was preserved by the odd combination of being stuffed with straw, under a pot, and beneath layers of animal dung. Otherwise natural decomposition would have made it almost impossible to determine what the item was. The straw maintained the shape and the pot and manure acted as a barrier against decay, while the cave minimized temperature and humidity fluctuations.

Scientists believe the shoe was custom made due to it’s construction. Shoes like these were generally created by placing the wearer’s foot on the leather and then cutting the pattern to shape. The leather was then folded and stitched in two places, in front and the back – without the back stitch, it would be considered a sandal. There would be no separate sole, only a single leather piece.

The shoe was created in one piece with a lace-up top. The cow-hide leather was cured and tanned by vegetable oils. The style is similar to the Pampootie, a mode of shoe that was in vogue in Ireland from 700 to 900 A.D., but has been worn as recently as the late 1950s in some places!

This is the oldest leather shoe ever found. Until its discovery, it was thought Copper Age man wore only sandals and shoemaking – even in primitive form – was yet to be invented.

At this time the shoe is being replicated by a shoemaker in Cork, Ireland for scientific purpose. Unfortunately there are no plans for it to be released for commercial use, but you never know. If you see it on the runway, you heard it here first.

Justin Howard

Justin Travis Howard has traveled the world and loves diving into local night life where ever he happens to wander. His insights are designed to promote the hidden byways of Modern Culture.

Leave a Reply