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15 July 2005
Oetzi's shoes were made for walking!

They are lined with hay, held together by a net of rough string, bulky, itchy and downright uncomfortable looking. But our "old" friend Oetzi the Iceman wore them, and when Czech shoe expert Petr Hlavacek, who has recreated replicas of Oetzi Shoes, took them out for a walk, he pronounced them far better than modern shoes!
     "These shoes are very comfortable. They are perfectly able to protect your feet from hard terrain, and hot and cold tempratures." Hlavacek said. And dispite their flimsy leather soles, the shoes offer a good grip and superb shock absorbtion. "Best of all", Hlavacek had stated, "they are blister free and like going barefoot, only better!"
     Scientists have learned so much from Oetzi since he was found in an Alpine Glacier in 1991 by German hiker Helmut Simon. For instance, we know his last meal included venison and that he was killed by an arrow,  that he most likely spent his life within fifty miles or so from where his body was found.
     After studying the original Oetzi Shoes at the Mainz Museum in Germany, where they are stored, Hlavacek and his collegues set out to duplicate them.
First off, there was the string netting that kept the hay in place and figuring out what it was made of, since ready to use string was out of the question. However, one collegue happened upon an old man who remembered how to make string from the thin strips of inner tree bark. Secondly, there was the leather. Testing showed that it came from three different animals: calf, deer and bear. Then there was the tanning process. An ancient Americal Indian recipe of boiled chopped pig liver and raw pig's brain. The fatty goop was smeared all over the leather and left for three days to dry. It smelled horrible and drew alot of flies, but it worked!
     An expert on shoes for Diabetics, Petr Hlavacek is still learning lessons from that experiment, like what other materials could distribute pressure as well as the hay in the Oetzi Shoes.
     Our 5,300 year old friend Oetzi is still teaching us lessons on life the way he lived it. And live life is indeed what Oetzi seems to have done. Let's all hope he continues to teach us, one step at a time!

Source: Buffalonews.com (7 July 2005)  

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