In Photos: Ancient Shoes of Egypt

Seven shoes

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(Image credit: © 2005 Franco M. Giani - Milano - Italy)

Archaeologists discovered seven shoes, that appear to be made out of bovine, within a jar in an Egyptian temple. The shoes date back more than 2,000 years and this picture shows the inside of the jar before the shoes were removed.

Two inside

ancient shoes, egyptian shoes, egypt archaeology, egypt temple luxor

(Image credit: © 2005 Franco M. Giani - Milano - Italy)

Two pairs were meant for children and in antiquity had been wrapped within a larger adult shoe using palm fiber string.

Wrapped together

ancient shoes, egyptian shoes, egypt archaeology, egypt temple luxor

(Image credit: © 2005 Franco M. Giani - Milano - Italy)

Another view of the two pairs of children's shoes tied within the larger isolated adult shoe. The isolated shoe has the earliest known example of a "rand" a folded leather strip that goes between the sole of the shoe and the upper part, reinforcing the stitching and making the shoe more watertight. In the dry climate of ancient Egypt it would not have been as useful a device and its presence suggests that the seven shoes may have been made abroad.

A closer look

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(Image credit: © 2005 Franco M. Giani - Milano - Italy)

The unwrapped shoe bundle showing the two pairs of children's shoes and the adult isolate.

Tiny shoe

ancient shoes, egyptian shoes, egypt archaeology, egypt temple luxor

(Image credit: © 2005 Franco M. Giani - Milano - Italy)

A pair of the children's shoes after being taken out of the bundle.

A bigger specimen

ancient shoes, egyptian shoes, egypt archaeology, egypt temple luxor

(Image credit: © 2005 Franco M. Giani - Milano - Italy)

A pair of adult shoes were also deposited in the jar, measuring about nine inches (24 centimeters). This shows an image of the right shoe

Insight to the owner

ancient shoes, egyptian shoes, egypt archaeology, egypt temple luxor

(Image credit: © 2005 Franco M. Giani - Milano - Italy)

An image of the left shoe. When André Veldmeijer analyzed the pair he found that the left had more repairs than the right. This indicates that the person who wore them walked with a limp.

A sign of status

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(Image credit: Illustration by M.H. Kriek)

An artist's impression showing what the adult shoes looked like in antiquity. They were closed using a tailed toggle system with leather strips forming knots which were passed through openings to close the shoes. A strip of leather would hang down, decoratively, from either side of each knot. The shoes were relatively expensive, possibly foreign made and would have been a sign of status.

Style at its best

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(Image credit: Drawings by E. Endenburg and A.J. Veldmeijer )

The cutting pattern of the shoes based on the adult pair. All the shoes have a similar pattern although the child shoes do not have a strip and the isolated shoe has a rand rather than a strip.