World’s Oldest Leather Shoe Lasted Over 5,500 Years | Anita Durairaj

A cave located in Armenia was the site of the discovery of a leather shoe believed to be over 5,500 years old. The moccasin-like shoe was well preserved and complete. It was found in the Areni-1 cave in 2008.

The discovery gave credence to the durable condition and durability of leather. Leather typically takes around 50 years to biodegrade. Factors affecting biodegradability generally depend on how the leather was treated during production.

In the case of the 5,500 year old shoe, its preservation was due to the cave conditions which were cool and dry. Additionally, the floor of the cave was covered with a thick layer of sheep dung which acted as a strong seal against the degradation of the shoe.

The the old shoes looked like moccasins and were stuffed with loose grass (see picture). The grass was probably placed in the shoe to maintain its shape or for storage.

The shoes were made from a single piece of leather that wrapped around the foot. It was determined that the leather was first cut and then fitted around the foot. The shoe size would have translated to a US size 7.

Surprisingly, the the shoes were also similar to traditional Balkan shoes which are still worn today.

Although the shoe is indeed very old, the world’s first shoe is actually a pair of sandals made from plant fibers dating perhaps over 7,000 years ago.

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