Laced up
10 Images

PHOTOS: World’s oldest leather shoe found in Armenia

Laced up
The world’s oldest leather shoe was excavated from a cave in Armenia. The 5,600-year-old lace-up was found filled with grass, which researches said may have been used to keep the wearer’s feet warm. (Boris Gasparian / Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Armenia)
Archaeologist
Archaeologist Ron Pinhasi of the University College Cork in Ireland was a co-leader of the research team that found the shoe in a cave on the border between Armenia and Iran. (Tomas Tyner / University College Cork)
Shoe site
The shoes preservation is attributed to the cave’s perennially cool temperature and low humidity and a concrete-like layer of sheep dung that sealed in everything and prevented fungi from destroying the materials. (Dr. Alexi Smith / University of Connecticut)
Blue marks the spot
The cave, marked with blue plastic, also contained a winemaking apparatus complete with grapes and three human heads preserved in jars. (Boris Gasparian / Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Armenia)
Digital record
Pinhasi takes photos inside the cave, which was used primarily for storage and, perhaps, ritualistic purposes. (Dr. Alexi Smith / University of Connecticut)
Map
An arrow points to the region where the shoe was found. ()
Shoe from all sides
The shoe is shaped to fit the wearer’s right foot. It is 9.65 inches long, which corresponds to a U.S. women’s size 7. (Boris Gasparian / Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Armenia)
Digging deep
Researchers have so far excavated only about 2% of the cave, which is at least 150 feet deep. (Boris Gasparian / Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Armenia)
Shaped over time
The research team believes the cave was abandoned after an earthquake, which caused the ceiling to collapse. (Boris Gasparian / Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Armenia)
Real leather
The shoe is 1,000 years older than the Great Pyramid in Egypt and 400 years older than Stonehenge in the U.K. The grass also may have been used to keep the shoe’s shape for storage. (Boris Gasparian / Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Armenia)
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