World’s Oldest Shoes

Way, way back in 1991, hikers Erika and Helmut Simon took a long journey around the Ötztal Alps. They discovered a scary dead corpse which would be known to the world as Otzi the Iceman. The discovery led several revelations about man during the Copper Age, among them the wonder of making the oldest pair of shoes in the world.

Facts About The Oldest Pair of Shoes

  1. The outer parts came from the skin of a deer.
  2. Inside the shoes is grass netting. It was made for insulation.
  3. The sole of the shoes were created from the skin of a bear.
  4. The shoes were comfy to wear and gave a surprising sense of warmth.
  5. The shoes were fastened by leather straps.
  6. There was also a leather strap made to keep the sole in place.
  7. Water could easily soak the shoes and were not suitable for rainy days.
  8. Leather strips were proven to avoid falls on rocky ground.
  9. The upper part of the shoe was worn with outside fur showing.
  10. The ankles were protected by grass fibres.

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Was Otzi a Shoemaker?

Unfortunately, based on his clothing, Otzi was not a shoemaker but rather believed to be a herder. His coat and leggings were made out of sheep hair in the Neolithic styles. Otzi was also believed to have lived 30 miles away from the place of his death. Otzi was believed to be an ordinary shepherd of about 46 years old and have lived in the border of Austria and Italy. The fact that he traveled 30 miles away with his own pair of shoes though, does necessarily mean that the world’s oldest pair of shoes is the best shoes for standing all day. However, it could be the best shoes for an adventure.

We can now look at these shoes, made to comfort our ancestors in cold and perilous conditions, at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaelogy in Bolzano, South Tyrol, Italy.

The Oldest Pair of Leather Shoes

The oldest pair of leather shoes were believed to be made by Armenians in 3500 B.C. The shoes were stuffed with grass. It was made from a tanned cowhide that was cut in two layers. It was also kept together by the laced cord.

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Manalo Blahnik, a popular Spanish shoe fashion designer, was fascinated with the discovery and stated its remarkable resemblance of the modern shoe. He further stressed the oldest leather pair shoes could have been part of a fashion statement to identify with a tribe.

The High Heels History

We cannot think about history of shoes without mentioning high heels. The fun trivia of high heels are also very intriguing.

  • High heels were first called ‘kothorni’ by ancient Greek actors.
  • The kothorni was made around 200 B.C with a heel of 8 to 10cm high.
  • Venetian women were once made the chopine, which would reach up to 50cm above ground.
  • Pictures on Persian items dating back to the 9th century A.D suggest men wears heels for horseback riding.
  • In the Middle Ages, European men and women wore high heels to make them feel elevated.
  • In 1959, Queen Elizabeth I was the first to be documented to wear ‘high heels’ by Jane Arnold.
  • Louis XIV was famous for wearing red heels and heels with red soles.
  • In the 18th century, men stopped wearing high heels because it did not go along with new concepts of the Enlightenment period.
  • In the 19th century, the court shoe of women are similar to American pump heels.
  • Marilyn Monroe was rumored to shave a quarter of an inch of her heels to have a wiggly sexy walk.

Our oldest shoes clearly have not changed so much to today’s shoes. The world did not begin with a concept for the best shoes for standing all day, but instead began with adventure shoes that would keep people warm or cold days. Our ancestors have modernized shoes to become fully leather and stylish. They have become fashion forward and have given us great ideas for the future of shoes.

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