Thursday, June 10, 2010

World's Oldest Leather Shoe

Let's set the stage: In a dark, cold cave in Armenia, underneath layers of sheep dung that have settled like cement over the finds, archaeologists have discovered the following curiosities:

  • Three human heads preserved in ceramic jars

  • wine-making equipment, complete with grapes

  • a laced up leather shoe stuffed with straw (or excelsior if you prefer)

Which item is grabbing the headlines?

After all, bottled heads are a dime a dozen. Unless one proves to belong to Joaquin, the California bandit who's preserved head went missing during the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, who cares?

But the shoe is 5,600 years old, which makes it older by three centuries than the previous world's-oldest-leather-shoe (found on an ice mummy), so that's the news.

For the record, the world's oldest shoes (leather or not) is claimed by North Armerica: a 6900-year-old sandal made with woven fibers and leather. And since this new find was found at the beginning of the current excavation, meaning that 98% of the cave is still to be dug into and searched, who knows what further boundaries may be broken?

Here are links to news stories about this:

  • New York Times (though you have to wade through clever asides about Sarah Jessica Parker's shoe size (geez, leave the wisecracks to bloggers, for crying out loud!) (one of whom (Geekologie) came up with Air Methuselahs)

  • the interactive, peer-reviewed science journal PlosOne, who broke the story

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