The oldest shoes in Europe, a woven grass sandal dating back 6,000 years, have been discovered in Andalusia, at the Cueva de los Murciélagos or Bat Cave, in the southwestern part of Spain. This discovery, as reported by the BBC, is notable because the low humidity and cold winds in the cave have remarkably preserved the sandals.
According to researchers who analyzed the sandals using new technologies, they contain various types of grass woven together with other materials like leather and lime. Based on the established dating, these shoes are believed to originate from the Neolithic period, making them older than leather shoes found in a cave in Armenia in 2008, which were dated to be 5,500 years old. This valuable find is not the only one made in the famous Spanish Bat Cave, which was plundered by miners in the 19th century. In this location, a veritable treasure trove of ancient objects has been discovered, including baskets and a range of tools. These objects “constitute the oldest and best-preserved assemblage of plant fiber materials known so far in southern Europe,” said co-author of the study María Herrero Otal. She emphasized, “The technological diversity and treatment of raw materials documented highlight the skills of prehistoric communities.”
The use of new dating techniques has revealed that the collection of 76 objects found in the cave is about 2,000 years older than previously believed, with some dating back as far as 9,000 years ago. According to the authors of this study, the cave was first visited in 1831 by a landowner who collected bat guano, or excrement, used for fertilizer production. Less than two decades later, the same location was exploited by miners who, while digging in the cave, discovered a gallery containing partially mummified bodies, baskets, wooden tools, wild boar teeth, and a unique gold diadem. (AGI)