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Mar 11, 2009

Why we wear shoes

Did you know...
Shoes or footwear or footcovers were used so long ago that we take them for granted.
Just ask yourself what would you have done to stop the pain on the bottom of your feet if you had to hunt for food in your bare feet whether in grass or on rocks. Can't you just imagine how that must have hurt. So sooner than later someone came up with the idea of covering the feet with animal hide to protect their feet from this pain.

Studies of the foot bones of ancient humans suggest that some form of sturdy footwear was worn by human beings beginning between 40,000 and 26,000 years ago.
Before words like "ouch" was used the primitive man had to make his way over rocks and discovered the need for covering his feet to protect them. So the first shoes, which were probably sandals, were mats of grass, strips of hide, or even flat pieces of wood. These were fastened to the soles of the feet by thongs that were then bound around the ankles. Of course, in colder regions, these sandals didn’t protect the feet sufficiently, so more material was added and gradually the sandals developed into shoes. Among the first civilized people to make shoes were the Egyptians. They used pads of leather or papyrus, which were bound to the foot by two straps. In order to protect the toes, the front of the sandal was sometimes turned up.

The Romans went a step further and developed a kind of shoe called the calceus They had slits at the side and straps knotted in front. There were different forms of the calceus, to be worn by the different classes of society. In some of the cold regions of the earth, people developed a kind of shoe independently.

For example, they sometimes wore bags padded with grass and tied around the feet. In time, these first foot coverings developed into the moccasins of the Eskimo and the Indian. As far as our modern shoes are concerned, their beginnings can be traced to the Crusades. The Crusaders went on long pilgrimages, and they needed protection for their feet, so it became necessary to create shoes that would last a long time.

The shoes found with the 5,300-year-old “Ice Man” in the Tyrolean Alps were made of skins and braided-bark netting and stuffed with straw and moss. The sandal, a very early form of the shoe, was worn in Egypt, Greece, and Rome; a more ancient example (c.8000 B.C.), woven from plant materials, was found in an Oregon cave. An early form of the boot was also known in Greece and Rome. The characteristic shoe of the Middle Ages was the soft, clinging moccasin, which extended to the ankle. It was highly decorated and was of velvet, cloth of gold, and, increasingly, of leather.

In time, leather shoes of great beauty began to appear in Italy, France, and England. Shoes have always been subject to whims of fashion. For example, at the time of King James I of England, high heels and very soft leathers were fashionable in society. It made for difficult walking, but people insisted on wearing them. At one time, before the appearance of the high heel, long-toed shoes were considered fashionable. The shoes were very narrow, and the toes were 12 and 15 centimeters long, and pointed.

In the American colonies, the earliest known shoemaker was Thomas Beard, who arrived in Salem, Mass., in 1629 and was under contract to make shoes for the Pilgrim colony. Early shoemakers worked at home, in small shops, or as itinerant workers who went to homes to make up the annual supply. Hand processes were used until c.1833


Anonymous said...

Wow, that's really interesting! Shoes have come a long way since... now we have shoes that can be synced with ipods and track your running distance etc. We really don't know how lucky we are!

Thank you so much for the kind comment on my blog :-)


Anonymous said...

i'm really amazed, i couldn't even imagine how far long shoes came from

M.S.CC/track.boy said...

It's humorous how we all think shoes are so good for us when they causeso many foot problems. Go to barefooters.org to see why.