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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jul > Jul 4

8,000-Year-Old Shoes Prove Cave-Dwellers Were

From: Joe Murgia <Ufojoe1@aol.com>
Date: Sat, 4 Jul 1998 15:45:45 EDT
Fwd Date: Sat, 04 Jul 1998 16:25:20 -0400
Subject: 8,000-Year-Old Shoes Prove Cave-Dwellers Were


8,000-year-old shoes prove cave-dwellers were well-heeled

<Picture: Shoes> Some of the shoes found are more than 8,000
years old =A0

July 3, 1998

Web posted at: 12:04 a.m. EDT (0404 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Ancient, 8,000-year-old shoes found in a
Missouri cave show that fashion in footwear is nothing new and,
in fact, is much older than anyone thought.

Scientists said Thursday that high-tech dating procedures
indicate that the shoes are at least 2,000 years older than
previously believed.

The shoes were found 40 years ago in the Arnold Research Cave in
Missouri, but, due to the mixing of deposits around the shoes at
the dig site, researchers were unable to assign an age to them.

Michael O'Brien of the University of Missouri and colleagues at
Louisiana State University used an accelerator mass spectrometer
to carbon-date the shoes. It dated the oldest shoes at up to
8,300 years old, the researchers reported in a study published
Friday in the journal Science.

"I was surprised," O'Brien said Thursday. "I would have guessed
3,000 but not 8,000. I thought it was so outrageous that I took
a second sample."

Some of the shoes were sandals with pointed toes. Others were
round-toed slip-ons. "Some of them were round-cupped heels like
on a bedroom slipper, others had sling-back heels like you find
on women's shoes," O'Brien said.

Cushioned And Durable

Most of the shoes were made with fibrous plants that could be
woven into a tough fabric used for the top, bottom and sides of
the footwear. O'Brien said the most common material was from a
yucca-like plant called rattlesnake master. The leaves were
dried and shaped into cording that was woven like modern-day

<Picture: Shoe>Both sandal and slip-on styles were found =A0

There were also comfort innovations. The moccasins were
cushioned with grass that functioned "like a Dr. Scholl's foot
pad," said O'Brien.

"There's nothing new under the sun," he said. "Some of these
shoes you would swear were made in a Mexican market."

The shoes were also very durable, he said. Of 35 samples
recovered, 20 were complete or nearly complete. Even though the
shoes spanned thousands of years, O'Brien said the basic
craftsmanship was about the same.

"They did not invent something flimsy that then got better over
time," said O'Brien. "The earliest shoe is every bit as
well-made and as complex as those from later on."

'They Wore The Heck Out Of These Things'

O'Brien said the variety of styles and differences in details
suggests that there may have been concessions to style or

"There was no ornamentation or color that we know about, but my
guess is that these shoes were very stylish for the time," he
said. "We know that people then were wearing jewelry," and that
it was likely that such artistic interest carried over into the

Only the moccasins were made of leather, and O'Brien said it is
likely that the cave dwellers did not use leather for shoes much
earlier than that.

The style and construction of the Missouri shoes are similar to
specimens unearthed from a nearby site in the Ozark Mountains
but are different from shoes found in caves in Kentucky. They
are also very different from shoes constructed by the Anasazi
people who inhabited Southwest deserts.

Footwear got hard use among the prehistoric Americans. They had
to walk most places since there were no horses. They had to hunt
or gather all of their food and to haul water back to the cave
-- all jobs that took much walking.

"Many of the shoes wore down exactly the way that our shoes do
-- the ball of the foot and the heel," said O'Brien. "In some
instances there were repairs where they wove fiber back into
them. Other shoes were just tossed, but they wore the heck out
of these things."

A Woman'S 8 1/2

Foot size, he said, appears to be much like that of modern
humans. There is no way to tell if wearers of the ancient shoes
were male or female, but the average length was about 10 1/2
inches -- about an 8 1/2 in modern American women's sizes.

"That suggests that these people fell within the size range of
people today," he said.

The cave, which is in a bluff not far from the Missouri River,
was a spectacular home by the standards of the time.

"It was really perfect," said O'Brien. "A great place to live."

O'Brien said that people lived there for hundreds of
generations, leaving layer after layer of debris: bone and stone
tools, animal bones, char from campfires and even some human
remains. Late in the occupancy, there were shards of pottery.

"The cave is so dry and has been for the last 10,000 years that
all this stuff is preserved," he said.

O'Brien said the finding was not a huge scientific breakthrough,
but interesting nevertheless. "To be honest," he said, "I think
people think this is pretty cool stuff."