Good Example Of Archaeology Material Culture Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Leather, People, Archaeology, Life, Lifestyle, Material, Shoes, Artifact

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/12/03


Artifacts refer to man-made objects that help human beings carry out tasks or other activities in their daily lives and adapt to their environment. Hence, artifacts play an important role in framing people’s way of life in the past, particularly their progress in terms of innovation and the challenges they faced that prompted them to look for ways to address them through invention. For this reason, it is important that we view artifacts not merely as objects but also as representation of people’s way of life in the past and as evidences of the daily struggles or problems that people faced.
Considering the abovementioned theme in archaeology and material culture, the succeeding discussion focuses on the exploration and analysis of an artifact that represents material culture – an old leather shoe found in a cave in Armenia. The discussion covers a physical description of the artifact, a description of its function or use for people in the past considering their way of life, and the relevance and implications of the artifact about technology and innovation in the past.

The Old Leather Shoe in Armenia

One of the oldest artifacts that is interesting is the leather shoe. The oldest leather shoe, which is 5,500 years old, is in the History Museum of Armenia located in Yerevan, Armenia. Archaeologists led by Diana Zardaryan of the Institute of Archaeology in Armenia found the artifact in 2008. The leather shoe in Armenia is not the oldest leather shoe in existence but it is interesting nonetheless to know that thousands of years ago, people already made leather shoes. Even archaeologists were astounded that the leather shoe resembles modern designs. Archaeologists found the leather shoe in a cave in Vayotz Dzor province near the border between Armenia, Iran and Turkey (Wuyt). Archaeologists noted that the shoe was made from leather material similar to moccasins, cowhide specifically. The leather was also tanned using plant or vegetable oil. When archaeologists found it, the shoes was stuffed with sheep dung and grass, believed to have contributed to the preservation of the shoe (Belluck).
The leather shoe is brown. It is shaped to fit a human foot. The leather is bound by a rope-like material in the middle, which serves the same function as shoe laces. The material also crisscrosses on top of the shoe to tighten it (Wuyt). Its shape is indefinite but it is similar to a shoe such that it protects the sole and heels as well as the anterior part of the foot. Although archaeologists failed to determine who wore the shoe, they stated that its size is similar to the average size of women’s feet in modern times, approximately seven feet (Belluck). Archaeologists determined that the shoe is worn on the right foot.
Considering the condition of pathways then (e.g. undeveloped roads, rocky or wet ground surfaces, etc.) as well as the detrimental effect of severe weather conditions (e.g. cold during the winter, heat during the summer, etc.), people used leather shoes to protect their feet from the elements. The archaeologists found the leather shoe in a cave, which indicate that people may have been nomadic then, moving from one cave to other dwellings depending on the weather conditions and available food in the surroundings. Leather shoes allowed people to travel and avoid physical injuries.
The leather shoe illustrates the intelligence of people in addressing their particular needs. The leather shoe also offers us a glimpse of people’s way of life then. First, the leather shoe is evidence that people often travelled then. Many communities in the past were nomadic, which means that they travelled from one place to another. Often, nomadic communities traveled throughout the seasons to look for safer places to stay and where they could hunt or gather food. During the winter, food is scarce and the elements made it difficult for people to stay in one place. For this reason, they travelled to other places. Travelling and going about their daily activities, as well as its impact on their physical wellbeing, influenced them to create leather shoes to protect their feet. This illustrates human beings’ propensity to invent or create objects to address specific problems or concerns. The invention of various materials including the leather shoe as well as other objects made of leather illustrate the type of dwelling and the way of life that people lived in the past (de Laet & Hermann, 446). Archaeologists note that nomads often created objects to make travelling more convenient for them (da Laet & Hermann, 446).


The foregoing discussion illustrates the capacity of people in old civilizations to invent objects to address their needs and concerns. Harsh weather conditions and undeveloped pathways or roads, as well as the nomadic nature of life in the past, prompted people then to invent objects that would protect their feet from the elements during travelling. This is a sign of human intelligence at play. The leather shoe also frames people’s way of life then, including their problems or concerns based on how they lived as a community.

Works Cited

Belluck, Pam. This Shoe Had Prada Beat by 5,500 Years. 9 Jun 2010. The New York Times. 2 Mar 2015. <>.
De Laet, Sigfried J. & Herrmann, Joachim. History of Humanity: From the Seventh Century B.C. to the Seventh Century A.D. UNESCO, 1996.
Wuyt, Ann. World’s Oldest Leather Shoe Discovered in Armenia. 11 Jun 2010. The Independent. 2 Mar 2015. <>

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