Anthropology AND shoes make me all tingly

When I was in school, sometimes I’d have these classes that were just so challenging, yet just so interesting, that I worked hard and couldn’t get enough. I called these kinds of classes mind candy, because that’s really what they were–a treat for my brain. They were often in my major or minor classes, anthropology or writing, respectively.

World\'s Oldest Shoes
These shoes, found at Fort Rock, Oregon, are the oldest shoes ever found...yet!

Now that I’m no longer in school, I tend to have these sorts of moments a lot less often. It takes a lot to really “wow” me, but give me a book about social justice, Egyptology, or human evolution, and you’ll really get my blood flowing.

So you’ve got to imagine how–a few weeks ago–I squealed when two of my loves converged: anthropology and shoes.

I was doing some research, and I came across this Wikipedia article about, well, shoes, and according to the article, the oldest pair of shoes ever found were found in Oregon(!), and were dated between 8,000 and 7,000 BCE (before common era). Now, I’ve always got to double-check the information I find on this site (just in case!), and after a little more research, I found that it was true!

According to Tom Connolly at the University of Oregon, UO archaeologist Luther Cressman “found dozens of sandals below a layer of volcanic ash, subsequently determined to come from the eruption of the Mt. Mazama volcano 7500 years ago” at Fort Rock Cave.

The cave is located in a small volcanic butte approximately half a mile west of the Fort Rock volcanic crater in central Oregon.

According to the site, the shoes “are twined (pairs of weft fibers twisted around warps), and have a flat, close-twined sole, usually with five rope warps. Twining proceeded from the heel to the toe, where the warps were subdivided into finer warps and turned back toward the heel. These fine warps were then open-twined (with spaces between the weft rows) to make a toe flap. Cressman surmised that a tie rope attached to one edge of the sole wrapped around the ankle and fastened to the opposite edge.”

After dendrocalibrated radiocarbon dating, the shoes proved to range in age from at least 10,500 BP to 9200 BP (before present).

So shoes really aren’t anything new…we’ve just taken a few [thousand] years to perfect them!


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Exuberant photographer, artist, writer, designer, wannabe chef, and Crossfitter.

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