Did You Know? (Shoe Edition)

The oldest leather shoe known to archaeologists was found (in 2008) embedded in a pit of sheep droppings in a cave in Armenia and is around 5,500 years old, according to a report by the BBC?

Photo by Pinhasi R, Gasparian B, Areshian G, Zardaryan D, Smith A, et al.  PLoS ONE 5(6): e10984. CC BY 2.5

The so-called Areni-1 shoe is an example of early, basic footwear, which may have gone on to influence the development of other types of shoe design in the ancient world. According to LiveScience, anthropologists believe that humans started wearing shoes around 40,000 years ago, contributing to anatomical changes in human feet and limbs. However, we have very little idea of what these prehistoric shoes might have looked like.     

Investigating History Mysteries by Alex Woolf is about all the ways archeologists can find information about artifacts. He talks about carbon dating to test for the age of items, analyzing oxygen isotopes to tell what the weather was like, DNA sampling for identifying where a mummified body was from, and investigating insects and pollen samples for additional information regarding the surrounding areas.

You know those days when your shoes are pinching your toes and your feet are hurting? Shoes: A Brief History by Lucy Johnston and Linda Woolley will give you a new appreciation for how comfortable your shoes really are! In the 1600’s and 1700’s pointy shoes were very popular for men and women, and narrow raised heels could make walking difficult, uncomfortable, and very painful. There are many interesting pictures of shoes in a variety of styles and materials from as early as the 1400’s. 

Of course, shoes have been in stories for generations. Some very well-known fairy tales involving shoes are Puss in Boots, the Elves and the Shoemaker and Cinderella. Other stories are bound to become classics. I’m amazed how many times shoes can be the answer to a problem!

Set in the 1950’s, New Shoes by Susan Lynn Meyer, tells the story of cousins Ella Mae and Charlotte who open their own shoe store where African-Americans can try the shoes on. In Seamus’s Short Story by Heather Hartt-Sussman, Seamus is very short but discovers high heels to make him taller. But then he realizes that it’s not so bad being short after all. We also have the DVD Kinky Boots which is the story of Charlie who grew up in a shoe factory and Lola who grew up loving shoes. To help Charlie with the struggling family business, Lola helps him design shoes for cross dressers: “But Charlie learns that being different – just like walking in stiletto boots – isn’t always easy.”

There is only one thing I can think of that is comfier than a nice pair of slippers – – and that is to wear no shoes at all!  You can read Whole Body Barefoot by Katy Bowman or Barefoot Walking by Michael Sander and Jessica Lee to discover the pleasure of getting in touch with the earth.

Lastly, even though you can walk barefoot, my favorite kind of “barefoot” is Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa. Her cookbooks like Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust make it easy to prepare simple and elegant food, that you can eat with or without shoes!