Seven shoes were found in the jar, three pairs and one single shoe. Two pairs, measuring seven inches, were worn by children and were tied together by using palm fiber string within the single shoe. The other pair of shoes was nine inches long and worn by an adult who limped.
Archaeologist Angelo Sesano wrote in a report published by the journal Memnonia that the shoes were "deliberately placed in a small space between two mudbrick walls." Whoever put the shoes there obviously never returned to collect them, and they remained hidden for millennia.
The shoes were rediscovered in 2004 by an archaeological team led by Sesana, who gave Andre Veldmeijer, an expert in ancient Egyptian footwear, access to the photographs.
"The find is extraordinary as the shoes were in pristine condition and still supple upon discovery," wrote Veldmeijer in the most recent issue of the Journal of American Research Center in Egypt. Unfortunately, after being recovered, the shoes became brittle and "extremely fragile."
Veldmeijer concluded that the shoes were foreign made and likely expensive. Sandals were typically worn in Egypt, but the style and quality of these shoes were such that "everybody would look at you" and "it would give you much more status because you had these expensive pair of shoes," said Veldmeijer, who is the assistant director for Egyptology of the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo.
The shoes would have been tied together using a technique researchers call "tailed toggles." Leather strips at the tops of the shoe would form knots that would be passed through openings to close the shoes. The strip of leather would have then been decoratively hung down. The shoes themselves where likely made of bovine leather.
The single shoe had what is called a "rand", a device that was thought to be used first in medieval Europe. A rand is a folded leather strip that went between the sole of the shoe and the upper part and reinforced stitching. This would have been used during muddy weather because it makes the seam more resistant to water.
On the single shoe Veldmeijer also found a "semi-circular protruding area" that would have been a sign of someone with a bunion.
On the pair of adult shoes, Veldmeijer found the left shoe had more patches and evidence of repair that the shoe on the right. "The shoe was exposed to unequal pressure," and the person who wore it "walked with a limp, otherwise the wear would have been far more equal."
Those who owned the shoes kept up with repairs and didn't throw them away like we do in our culture. "These shoes were highly prized commodities," Veldmeijer said.
Reference: Live Science
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