The perfectly preserved 5 500-year-old shoe that was discovered in a cave in Armenia. Credit: Department of Archaeology, UCC

A perfectly preserved shoe was discovered in a cave in 2010 and was later tested to be 5 500 years old.

The shoe is, therefore, contemporary with when the wheel was invented, or when the horse was domesticated and it is actually 1,000 years older than The Great Pyramid of Giza.

An Armenian post-graduate student, Diana Zardaryan, discovered the leather shoe during excavations by her team of archaeologists from Armenia’s Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, and also archaeologists from Ireland and the United States.

The shoe is fully intact and made of one piece of cowhide laced together with laces in the same material.

Ron Pinhasi at the University College Cork, Ireland said; “It is not known whether the shoe belonged to a man or woman,”, “as while small (European size 37; US size 7 women), the shoe could well have fitted a man from that era.”.

“We thought initially that the shoe and other objects were about 600-700 years old because they were in such good condition,” “It was only when the material was dated by the two radiocarbon laboratories in Oxford, UK, and in California, the US that we realized that the shoe was older by a few hundred years than the shoes worn by Ötzi, the Iceman.”

“The shoe is size 37 but could have fitted a man during this era, said. It is reminiscent of a shoe type that has subsequently been found all over Europe. The model may have been used for thousands of years.”, Pinhasi adds.

The conditions in the cave which lies on the border between Armenia, Iran, and Turkey, was very favorable indeed. It is cold and dry and the floor was covered with thick layer sheep droppings which probably acted as a seal. Also found were several large containers with well-preserved wheat, barley, and apricots. And three skulls from children, in three different containers.

First Direct Evidence of Chalcolithic Footwear from the Near Eastern Highlands