Areni-1 Shoe

areni-1

The Areni-1 shoe is a 5,500-year-old leather shoe that was found in 2008 in excellent condition in the ‘Areni-1’ cave in Armenia. It is a one-piece leather-hide shoe and the oldest piece of leather footwear in the world known to contemporary researchers (the oldest footwear of any kind yet discovered are a 10,000 year old pair of sandals made of sagebrush fiber, from Fort Rock Cave in Oregon). The use of shoes is believed to have begun between 40,000 and 26,000 years ago. The Areni-1 shoe was found in near-perfect condition due to the cool and dry conditions in the cave and a thick layer of sheep dung which acted as a solid seal.

Large storage containers were found in the same cave, many of which held well-preserved wheat, barley, and apricots, as well as other edible plants. The shoe contained grass and the archaeologists were uncertain as to whether this was because the grass was used as insulation to keep the foot warm, or used to preserve the shape of the shoe while not being worn. Radiocarbon analysis dates the shoes to 3,500 BCE (a few hundred years older than a leather shoe found on Ötzi the Iceman, 400 years older than shoes found at Stonehenge, and 1,000 years older than shoes found at the Great Pyramid of Giza).

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