Monday, March 4, 2013

Egyptian shoes present a real mystery to experts

A cash of shoes hidden in an ancient Egyptian temple was found in 2004 by an Italian archaeological expedition team. More recent research confirms the design features of some of these shoes were well in advance of shoe technology of the time and André Veldmeijer , assistant director of the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo and expert in ancient Egyptian footwear is keen to find out more about the find. Seven shoes were deposited in a jar, three pairs and a single one. Two pairs were originally worn by children and were only about 7 inches (18 centimeters) long. Using palm fibre string, the child shoes were tied together within a larger adult single shoe and put in the jar. Another pair of shoes, more than 9 inches (24 cm) long was also inserted in the jar. The jar was found hidden in a cavity between two mud brick walls in a temple in Luxor, site of the ancient city of Thebes . The footwear is thought to be over 2,000 years ago when Egypt was ruled by a dynasty of Greek descent. At the time the shoes were concealed, most Egyptians would normally have worn sandals. He extraordinary feature f the adult footwear is they were made with a rand. These are folded leather strips that go between the soles and the upper to prevent damage around the stitch holes that join them. The rand helps reinforce the stitiching but was not thought to not have been invented until the Middle Ages. The shoe was also tied with 'tailed toggles', i.e. leather strips that pass through at the top of the shoes and hung down decoratively on either side. Veldmeijer's analysis suggests the shoes may have been made outside Egypt and were almost certainly expensive. Uneven wearmarks and evidence of repair suggested one pair had been worn by someone with a limp and the second adult pair of shoes was worn by a person with bunions. No one yet knows why the shoes were hidden but it is postulated the expensive footwear was being kept in a safe place when the owners were forced to leave hurriedly.

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