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Jesus Wore Shoes - What Did They Look Like?


By James Donahue

August 2005


Among the many little clips in my “tickler” file is a report of the discovery of a 2,000-year-old leather shoe found by archaeologists at an ancient quarry in the UK.


The shoe, estimated to be about a size 10 in men’s foot ware, was dug out of a hollowed tree trunk at the site. It was said to be so well preserved that stitch and lace holes are still visible in the leather.


The archaeological team was digging in a Bronze Age work site, dating from 1460 to 1290 BC. The artifacts uncovered consisted of mounds of burnt stone and two wooden troughs. Nearby were two timber-built wells. One of the wells was constructed by timbers over a spring using a hollowed tree trunk set in the ground for its support.


It was in this ancient tree trunk that the shoe was found.


If the age estimates are correct, this was a shoe that was manufactured by a leather craftsman at about the time or possibly long before Jesus and his disciples were walking the roads in and around Jerusalem and making their mark in history.


And that gives us an understanding of the kind of shoes men wore in that period. They looked somewhat like the shoes we wear now. Which may be a surprise when you think about it.


Hollywood films and other illustrations usually depict Jesus walking around in simple sandals, as they do American Indians going either barefoot or in moccasins.


Historians would have us believe that humans in that time did not live as well as we do in this modern age, and that the development of such things as stylish clothing, coats, hats and foot-ware are more of a contemporary thing. Thus we visualize the people of Rome walking around in wrapped sheets, or togas and sandals.


If you think about it, if the people of that era had the ability to weave cloth for togas, they also could fashion that cloth into various fitting clothes, and use natural dyes from the earth to give them color. And if they could cut leather for sandal bottoms, they could utilize leather to make shoes, and probably did.


The discovery of a shoe from that period that has leather parts stitched together, and eyelets for laces thus becomes a shocking revelation. We suddenly realize that comfortable leather shoes may have been available to humans for a very long time. In fact, if he spent his life walking from town to town, Jesus probably depended on good shoes to help him make his way.


People in the UK and other parts of Northern Europe not only contended with rough stony terrain to walk on, but they also had to get around in snow and ice during the winter months. Thus it is logical to assume that the art of making good shoes and boots was known to their craftsmen from they day their ancestors migrated north and decided to make their home in the area.


And there has been another discovery somewhat associated with the 2,000-year-old UK shoe. It seems that a student in human anatomy has noticed an interesting difference in the bones of the little toes of older humans living in Eurasia some 26,000 and 30,000 years ago.


It seems that the bone structure of the toes are not as strongly built as those of the ancestors, while leg bones remained large and strong, said Erik Tinkaus of Washington University in St. Louis.


Tinkaus believes the change in bone structure indicates that these people were wearing shoes with arch supports.


When people walk in their bare feet, or on flat sandals, Trinkaus said, the smaller toes flex for traction and this keeps the toe bones strong. Supportive footwear lessens the pressure on the small toes, so they tend to be undeveloped.


Trinkaus believes humans in the northern climates were even putting insulation on their feet as early as 500,000 years ago.


Thus we can imagine Jesus wearing some cool insulated leather shoes with great arch supports as he tromped the byways of his homeland, pissing off the radical Pharisees and Saducees in the Jewish temples.



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