Friday, June 11, 2010

Sandals versus shoes

There's a been a kerfuffle in the press recently about the excavation of a leather shoe in Armenia. Radiocarbon dated to around 5500 BP, it's supposed to tell us something important about Chalcolithic footwear.

Here's the reference to the actual article:

Ron Pinhasi, Boris Gasparian, Gregory Areshian, Diana Zardaryan, Alexia Smith, Guy Bar-Oz, and
Thomas Higham. (2010). First Direct Evidence of Chalcolithic Footwear from the
Near Eastern Highlands. PLoS ONE vol. 5, No. 6. e10984.

In the article they mention earlier footwear excavated in Missouri from Arnold Research cave dating to 7420 BP, but they fail to reference even earlier sandals from the western U.S. For example, Geib (2000) describes a number of much older sandals from the Colorado Plateau, including some apparently dating to 7000-8000 cal B.C. Not being a southwestern archaeologist myself, I don't know whether there's some controversy about those specimens or whether the authors overlooked them.

Overall, I guess I feel that finding a shoe, albeit a nice one, hardly merits publication in a journal like PLoS ONE.

Geib, Phil. R. (2000). Sandal Types and Archaic Prehistory on the Colorado Plateau. American Antiquity vol. 65, No. 3, pp. 509-524.


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