The world's oldest known leather shoe (pictured) was found in an Armenian cave. Stuffed with grass, perhaps as an insulator or an early shoe tree, the 5,500-year-old moccasin-like shoe was found exceptionally well preserved—thanks to a surfeit of sheep dung—during a dig in an Armenian cave.
The 5,500-year-old shoe was found in a cool, dry cave in Armenia. The right-footed moccasin was buried in sheep dung, which likely helped preserve it. The shoe is roughly the size of an American size 7 woman's shoe. The ultimate vintage shoe -- a 5,500-year-old leather lace-up moccasin -- has been found buried in sheep dung in a cave in Armenia on the Iranian and Turkish borders. The cool, dry cave and the thick layer of sheep dung, which acted as a solid seal, kept the world's oldest piece of leather footwear in perfect condition.
Designed a thousand years before the Great Pyramid of Giza, the soft-soled shoe was stuffed with loose, unfastened grass. The right-footed shoe (the left has not been discovered) is 24.5 cm long and 7.6 to 10 cm wide (9.6 by 2.9 to 3.9 inches) (U.S. size 7 women). It was probably worn by an early farmer living in the mountains of the Vayotz Dzor province.
Previously, the oldest known closed-toe shoes were those belonging to Ötzi, the "Iceman" found in the Austrian Alps in 1991, who died around 5,300 years ago. Sandals meanwhile, have an even longer history, with the oldest specimens, dated to more than 7,000 years ago, discovered in the Arnold Research Cave in central Missouri.