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World’s Oldest Shoe Found in Armenia

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One more time in a history world’s attention was driven into the small mountainous country located in Eastern Europe. The reason was the ancient shoe found in one of the villages of Armenia.
The shoe, which was found in September 2008 in Areni village, dates back to more than five thousand five hundred years. This is evidenced by independent expert studies carried out by four different research centers. The archaeologists said that the shoe is most likely made from the  single piece of cowhide. There are lot of ancient shoes in the world, and although we can not say that ours is the oldest, but for sure it is  the only complete sole leather-made oldest model in the world. Shoes found in Europe are totally different from the one found in Areni.


World’s Oldest Shoe

The world famous shoe was found by Diana Zardaryan, who was a PhD student at the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography. Diana remembers that on 16 September 2008 she entered the cave with strange intuition. Later on that day she became the first man who picked up oldest shoe in the world.
The Archaeological excavations in Bird’s cave had started in summer 2007. They were carried out  by the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences, and by American and Irish archaeologists. During the next  three years archaeologists found dried fruits, vegetable residues, textiles, pottery, wine casks that date back to BC 4200-3500.  All this findings had survived thanks to the favorable micro climate of the cave.

On the day of discovery archaeologists first found large amount of reeds at the bottom of the cave, then noticed a hole with about 45 cm radius, the inner side of which was covered with fine yellow clay. In the hole there were also goat’s horns placed crosswise and an orange pot with 50 cm radius placed upside down, 1/3 of which was broken. Under it laid the shoe which would later be considered the oldest in the world.

The shoe has an oval shape, made of a single piece of cowhide. The back and front parts of the special cords attached to humans leg.
According to scientists, it is sewn into the leg. Its length is 24.5 cm and corresponds to the 37 size by current numbering. The shoe is staffed with grass in order not to lose the form.

Archaeologists immediately sent the samples from the shoe to 2 different universities in Oxford and California for examinations. A year later came the sensational results of radiocarbon analysis. Shoe found in Armenia  was 5637-5387 years old, much older than the Egyptian pyramids.
Previously, the oldest known closed-toe shoes were those belonging to Ötzi, the “Iceman” found in the Austrian Alps in 1991, who died around 5,300 years ago. His shoes were about 300 years younger than the Armenian shoe and had bearskin soles, deerskin panels, tree-bark netting and grass socks.

Otzi's shoe

Otzi’s shoe

Now the shoe is preserved in the History Museum of Armenia and attracts many of the tourists attention visiting the country. Although the conditions in the museum are maximally tailored to the conditions of the cave, the shoe has dried up a little.
It can be found in an exposition with this note on the signboard


Areni-1 Cave Complex, Trench 3

Copper Age, 3600-3500 BC


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