Stylish 2,000-Year-Old Roman Shoe Found in a Well

When the Romans pushed their way north into the Ger­man provinces, they built (cir­ca 90 AD) The Saal­burg, a fort that pro­tect­ed the bound­ary between the Roman Empire and the Ger­man­ic trib­al ter­ri­to­ries. At its peak, 2,000 peo­ple lived in the fort and the attached vil­lage. It remained active until around 260 AD.

Some­where dur­ing the 19th cen­tu­ry, The Saal­burg was redis­cov­ered and exca­vat­ed, then lat­er ful­ly recon­struct­ed. It’s now a UNESCO World Her­itage site and hous­es the Saal­burg Muse­um, which con­tains many Roman relics, includ­ing a 2,000 year old shoe, appar­ent­ly found in a local well.

If you think the Ital­ians have mas­tered the craft of mak­ing shoes, well, they don’t have much on their ances­tors. Accord­ing to the site Romans Across Europe, the Romans  “were the orig­i­na­tors of the entire-foot-encas­ing shoe.” The site con­tin­ues:

There was a wide vari­ety of shoes and san­dals for men and women. Most were con­struct­ed like mil­i­tary cali­gae, with a one-piece upper nailed between lay­ers of the sole. Many had large open-work areas made by cut­ting or punch­ing cir­cles, tri­an­gles, squares, ovals, etc. in rows or grid-like pat­terns. Oth­ers were more enclosed, hav­ing only holes for the laces. Some very dain­ty women’s and children’s shoes still had thick nailed soles.

The image above, which puts all of the Roman’s shoe-mak­ing skill on dis­play, comes to us via Red­dit and imgur.

Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in July 2016.

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Comments (3)
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  • Georgius Pretorius says:

    Now I remem­ber. Some ants were crawl­ing on my foot so I took my shoe off to scratch my foot. I laid the shoe on the well at the same time some locals raid­ed our fort.
    After the fight I went back to the well and the shoe was gone.

    Could some­one email me instruc­tions on how to get it back?

  • Aní Sandoval says:

    Dear Mr. Pre­to­rius,

    I must con­fess that it was I who found your 👞 at the well. See­ing only one shoe, I erro­neous­ly assumed that either the oth­er 👞 or its own­er had fall­en into the well. I looked down into the water and did not see a dis­tressed 😫 per­son or a float­ing body and so I decid­ed to not let a fine 👞 go to waste.
    The 👞 seemed hard­ly worn and I knew that my dog, Bosco, would enjoy using it To play with. I’m afraid that as joy­ful as Bosco was with his new toy, your poor 👞 did not sur­vive the play time with my dog, although he seemed to be hav­ing fun
    the whole time that Bosco was fling­ing him into the air and pranc­ing him around the house on his nose. I apol­o­gize for the error of my deci­sion and hope that you will take bet­ter care of your shoe next time. Mis­tak­en­ly, Ani

  • panpan says:

    I believe the quo­ta­tion at the end incom­plete. It should be “The Romans were the orig­i­na­tors of the entire-foot-encas­ing shoe to the Mediter­ranean world. ” because shoes were found in Asia as far back as 3,000 years ago with archae­o­log­i­cal digs to prove.

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