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Archaeologists have discovered a 1,700-year-old leather sandal on a mountain pass in Norway

By: April Carson

While the discovery is not unusual itself, experts believe that this shoe could be an example of Ice - Age fashion.

Archaeologists have located a 1,700-year-old leather sandal left behind by a traveler who traveled through Horse Ice Patch in what is now Oppland, Norway. Experts believe that the shoe, which has been radiocarbon-dated to about 300 C.E., was abandoned by its owner after becoming worn out.

The sandal was most likely inspired by the Roman carbatina, a shoe style popular in Europe at the time.

It is made of soft, supple leather and features a strap that fastens across the foot. The style was common among both men and women during the Roman Empire, and continued to be popular in Europe well into the Middle Ages.

In August of 2019, a hiker discovered an Iron Age sandal protruding from the snow. He contacted Secrets of the Ice, a group of Norwegian archaeologists who study glaciers and ice patches, just in time before a winter storm came in to cover the item for good.

“It's possible that it might take many years to melt again,” said Espen Finstad, the project's lead archaeologist. “We archaeologists had a day to go in and collect the find.”

According to Secrets of the Ice's leader Lars Pilø, this is the first Iron Age shoe and only the second ever leather shoe found in Norway. Previously, the oldest shoe discovered was a Roman-era sandal from about 300 C.E., which was also located in Oppland. "It's very exciting," said Pilø.

The discovery of the sandal was made possible by a combination of luck and hard work, according to Finstad. The team also discovered textiles, arrow shafts, and frozen horse dung from the Viking period (800 C.E. to 1066 C.E.). "It was a long day," Finstad recalled. The site was soon covered in snow the next day.

The group published its findings last month.

This leather sandal is a significant archaeological discovery. It sheds light on the daily lives of individuals who lived in this area more than 1,000 years ago.

The Roman carbatina, a design popular in Europe around the same period, was described as "a sandal with an ornate toe and chain." Vegard Vike, a conservator at Oslo's Kulturhistorisk Museum, went on Twitter to say that the shoe was based on the Roman carbatina.

“It's amazing,” Finstad told Science Norway. “We're up here at almost [6,500 feet], and we discover a shoe with fashion elements similar to those on the continent at the time.”

The sandal is not the first item of footwear to be discovered on the mountain, but it is the only one of its kind. Previous shoes unearthed in the region were constructed from large sections of animal hide intended to guard the foot from snow. “It's easy to make a Roman visitor look stupid who didn't quite grasp everything about his destination country,” remarked an archaeologist.

The sandal, like other relics discovered near it, suggests that the icy mountain pass was utilized by people traveling from inland Norway to the coast.

“It tells us that what appears to be a wild and desolate mountain terrain was once a prehistoric traffic environment, and that it is full of human traces,” Finstad said. People haven't been afraid to settle in difficult mountainous regions; they've gone far distances and had communication and trade.”

"This discovery is truly remarkable," said one archaeologist. "Not only is it a leather sandal that was made 1,700 years ago, but it also tells us about the complex network of trade routes that existed at this time."

Archaeologists will continue to study this ancient sandal, and we can only hope that more remarkable discoveries are yet to come.​

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About the Blogger:

April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on

To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav



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