Lost and found: 5,500-year-old shoe in Armenian cave

The perfectly preserved 5,500-year-old shoe that was discovered in a cave in Armenia. (c) Boris Gasparian/Institute of Archaeology and Enthography

Someone lost their right-foot leather shoe in an Armenian cave some 5,500 years ago. Researchers have just found it and are still looking for the left-foot pair. Perfectly preserved under layers of sheep dung (who needs cedar closets?), the shoe, made of cowhide and tanned with oil from a plant or vegetable, is about 5,500 years old, older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids, scientists say. Separate laboratories dated the leather to 3653 to 3627 B.C. making this oldest shoe found so far.

Previously, the oldest known leather shoe belonged to Ötzi the Iceman, a mummy found 19 years ago in the Alps near the Italian-Austrian border. His shoes, about 300 years younger than the Armenian shoe. Footwear even older than the Armenian leather shoe includes examples found in Missouri and Oregon, made mostly from plant fibers.

The amazing find put Armenia on the top of news agenda. That’s certainly great promotion for the country which hopes to attract some 620 thousand tourists this year.

Meanwhile, I can’t hold myself from reminding the researchers, that shoe-production was considered a key industry in Soviet Armenia, with the “Masis” company alone producing 17 million pairs of shoes a year and exporting most of them to Soviet countries. Even though competition from China and Italy killing local shoe-production options, archeologists would surely find much better preserved and modern-styled examples of Armenian shoes in Yerevan’s supermarkets these days, and no need to dig into caves looking for 5,500-year-old alternatives that made all the news-fuss today.

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  1. Pingback: World’s Oldest Winery Found in Armenia | The Armenian Observer Blog

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