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Archaeo News 

30 June 2003
Prehistoric shoes better than modern boots

Prehistoric 'shoes' made out of bearskin and hay are better for mountain walks than modern hiking boots, claims an expert.
     Shoe specialist Petr Hlavacek has been studying the shoes found on the feet of a prehistoric iceman whose mummified body was found in an Alpine glacier in 1991. Mr Hlavacek, who reconstructed a pair of the shoes, said they kept the foot at an optimal temperature, allowed sweat to evaporate and dried quickly if they got wet.
     The footwear engineer's version went on display this week at the Leather Museum in Offenbach. Christian Rathke, the museum chief, said the shoes were far from waterproof, but if the iceman stepped in a puddle he would only be cold for a few seconds and the shoes would dry quickly as he walked. "This shoe is optimal for places where it's damp and cold," he said. "It would not be suitable for the savannah or desert." The sole was of thin bearskin, padded on the inside with hay as protection against the cold. Hlavacek's reconstruction is like a slipper, with no leather upper behind the heel, just a net.

Source: Ananova (20 June 2003)

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