Elegant 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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Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Ancient Romans First Com­mit­ted the Sar­to­r­i­al Crime of Wear­ing Socks with San­dals, Archae­o­log­i­cal Evi­dence Sug­gests

A Huge Scale Mod­el Show­ing Ancient Rome at Its Archi­tec­tur­al Peak (Built Between 1933 and 1937)

A Map Show­ing How the Ancient Romans Envi­sioned the World in 40 AD

Rome Reborn: Take a Vir­tu­al Tour of Ancient Rome, Cir­ca 320 C.E.

Free Cours­es in Ancient His­to­ry, Lit­er­a­ture & Phi­los­o­phy

Watch the Destruc­tion of Pom­peii by Mount Vesu­vius, Re-Cre­at­ed with Com­put­er Ani­ma­tion (79 AD)

The His­to­ry of Rome in 179 Pod­casts

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.