5,500-year-old leather shoe discovered in cave

275x250.jpg A 5,500-year-old leather shoe - the world's oldest - has been discovered in a cave in Armenia perfectly preserved, and complete with laces.

Archaeologists say the cow-hide shoe dates back to 3,500 BC (Chalcolithic period) and was made of a single piece of leather and was shaped to fit the wearer’s foot.

The shoe is the equivalent of a current size 4 (or EU 37) and it's thought the cool and dry conditions in the cave resulted in exceptional preservation.

Experts say the shoe could have belongs to a man or a woman… though if it belonged to a woman, we would expect them to find another 14 pairs at the back of the cave.
"It is not known whether the shoe belonged to a man or woman," said lead author of the research, Dr  Ron Pinhasi, University College Cork.

"While small, the shoe could well have fitted a man from that era." 

275x250.jpg The cave is situated in the Vayotz Dzor province of Armenia, on the Armenian, Iranian, Nakhichevanian and Turkish borders, and was known to regional archaeologists due to its visibility from the highway below.

The oldest known footwear in the world, to the present time, are sandals made of plant material, that were found in a cave in the Arnold Research Cave in Missouri in the US.  

Other contemporaneous sandals were found in the Cave of the Warrior, Judean Desert, Israel, but these were not directly dated, so that their age is based on various other associated artefacts found in the cave.

University College Cork    
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