How Shoes Were Invented

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Shoes never cease to evolve through time. Each year, hundreds of new different innovations of footwear are introduced to the market. We know, for sure, what shoes are and what materials they’re made of. What we don’t know, in particular, is how they were invented centuries ago.

Shoes were made with the purpose of protection and comfort for feet. Some says the history of shoes  began around 3,000 BC, while others think it primarily became popular along with the declaration of the original marathon course in around 480 B.C. One of the latest anthropological researches about the fascinating history of footwear suggests that humans have started wearing shoes around 40,000 years ago, much prior to previous assumptions.

This study is critically based on human’s foot bone. Erik Trinkaus, one of the earliest anthropologist contributors of this study, discovered how footwear alters one’s physical body. He then combined his understanding of this body alteration with other studies like how footwear changes the way humans walk, as he discovered a certain point throughout human history (which is approximately about 40,000 years ago), where sizes of toe bones shrunk. This is where Trinkaus began to conclude his theory which suggests that the reduction of human foot sizes denoted the beginning of shoes.

Shoes were inspired to satisfy human comfort and protection, although people at present use them for fashion and self-expression, as well. Shoes were invented in prehistoric times, so they’re really not the kind of shoes you’d consider as the best shoes for standing all day. But fair enough, they served as the best in the past.

Archeological and Paleoarcheological evidences show that shoes were invented in the Middle Paleolithic period. Different forms of skins or hides have been wrapped around the feet for protection and comfort. The earliest kinds of shoes discovered were soft and were usually Leather.

The oldest pair of shoes found to date is the Sagebrush Bark Sandals. They’re flat, twined weft fibers with ropes as the straps. Their soles are close-twined from heel to toe. The Areni-1 shoe, the oldest leather shoe, was also found. It is a one-piece shoe formed into a foot shape. The leather hides the entire foot with a long, vertical stitch at the front. The stuffed grass inside the shoe was interpreted as a form of insulator.



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The history of shoes rages around the world, even in cold places. The Iceman’s Shoes named Otzi was invented to protect the foot from the cold, icy weather. It is made of woven grass, which is fairly a smart choice for an insulation material.

Egypt also contributes to this fascinating history of shoes. They have invented leather sandals with peaked toe worn by a King, a Prince, or a Priest. Shoes also contributed in the battlefield, which Greek soldiers used. India also had its contribution of Indian Paduka, the most quintessential footwear in India. Its sole is simple, usually wooden and it has a stub that is in between the big and second toe.

Many shoe designs were inspired by its history, just like the Gladiator Strap Sandals. They originally denoted officer ranks and were very ideal to use in the battlefield.

People continue to invent more and more kinds of shoes over the course of time, aiming to achieve the best shoes for standing all day and night. Knowing how shoes evolve, we realize how people do, too. Back then, we merely used grass and ropes to make protection for feet. But as time goes by, we started using different materials and tried various techniques to make our feet even more comfortable.

So, how were shoes actually invented? Well, they’re not just invented merely with materials, grass and ropes or leather and soles. They were awesomely made with unsatisfied hearts and brilliant minds of humans.


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