Scientists have identified what are believed to be the oldest shoes in Europe – sandals woven from grass, estimated to be around 6,000 years old. These ancient relics were found amongst a collection of artefacts in the Cueva de los Murcielagos (or ‘Bat Cave’) in Spain. This location was previously raided by miners in the 19th century, but the sandals were only recently recognised after detailed analysis in a new study.
The low humidity and cold drafts in the Andalusian cave preserved the artefacts in an astonishingly good condition. The researchers also examined baskets and a toolkit from the site.
According to the BBC, these items represent the oldest and best-preserved collection of plant fibre materials in southern Europe to date.
“The technological diversity and documented raw material treatment emphasise the skill of prehistoric communities,” commented study co-author Maria Errero Otal.
Advanced dating techniques revealed that the collection of 76 items found in the cave is around 2,000 years older than previously believed. Some objects in the set date back as far as 9,000 years.
The analysed sandals are made from various types of grass, but also incorporated materials like leather and lime. They hail from the Neolithic period, making them older than the 5,500-year-old leather shoes found in a cave in Armenia in 2008.