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Secrets of Areni Armenian Cave

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#1 Aratta-Kingdom



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Posted 21 June 2010 - 06:54 PM

A Shoe, Skulls, Wine, and More


by: Nanore Barsoumian

A 2008 archaeological find—a leather shoe—has proved to be about 5,500 years old. The shoe, which was discovered at Areni-1 cave in the Vayots Dzor province of Armenia, is 24.5 cm. long, (U.S. woman’s size 7; European size 37), and was shaped to its wearer’s right foot.

The conditions in the cave supported the excellent preservation of the shoe, which was made from a single piece of cow hide leather and laced in the front and back through 15 pairs of eyelets in the front, and 4 in the back. The shoe had been worn and repaired, but it wasn’t worn out. Researchers believe that the shoe was stuffed with grass either to preserve its shape, or for insulation and comfort.

“The significance [of this shoe] is that it tells us about human’s ability to manufacture such items, the fact that they already wore shoes 5,500 years ago (and probably earlier), and that a unique and advanced human society which we do not know much about lived in nowadays Armenia at the border with Iran and Turkey,” archaeologist Ron Pinhasi told the Armenian Weekly. Pinhasi, of the University College Cork in Cork, Ireland, co-led the research team.

Also part of the team were Dr. Boris Gasparian and graduate student Diana Zardaryan, from the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology in Yerevan, Armenia; Gregory Areshian from UCLA’s Cotsen Institute of Archaeology; and Alexia Smith from the department of anthropology at the University of Connecticut. Their research article was submitted to PLoS One, a journal of the Public Library of Science, and published on June 9, 2010.

What led researchers to the Areni-1 cave? “Boris Gasparian, the Armenian co-director, visited the cave in 1993 and thought that it may have archaeological potential. We then test excavated it with Dr. Keith Wilkinson (UK), in 2007, and found lots of exciting artifacts, pots, etc.,” explained Pinhasi, who added that he had expected to find “Palaeolithic layers (early modern humans and Neanderthals)” before the excavations had begun.

The shoe, two samples of which were submitted for testing at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU), and one at the University of California-Irvine Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Facility (UCIAMS), has a date range of 3,627-3,377 BC (95.4 percent confidence interval), according to the PLoS article.

It was reportedly found by Diana Zardaryan, a doctoral student, in a plastered pit located in one of the cave trenches (Trench 3). Along with the shoe, two horns of an adult female wild goat, a fish vertebra, and pieces of 15 different vessels lay in the pit.

Prior to the discovery of the Armenian shoe, the earliest known shoe in Eurasia belonged to Ötzi, the Iceman (3,365-3,118 BC). Only parts of Ötzi’s footwear were recovered. They were made of deer and bear leather, and had an inner grass sock.

According to the PLoS paper, excavations in the upper ground layers in Trench 3 also revealed hints of domestic occupation of the space in the 12th-14th centuries AD. That same trench and Trench 1 have also revealed signs of “at least two phases of Chalcolithic [Copper Age] occupation in the cave.” The Chalcolithic occupants used the cave for various purposes, including habitation, as well as economic and ritual activities. Signs of domestic use—hearths, tools, and animal bones—were found in Trench 3. Trench 1 was used for storage and rituals. Researchers found three buried clay pots there, each containing a “subadult” skull.

One of the three human skulls contained brain remains, which have been dated to the first quarter of the 4th millennium BC. The cave’s damp atmosphere helped preserve its red and white blood cells. According to Gasparian, “The preliminary results of the laboratory analysis prove this is the oldest of the human brains so far discovered in the world. Of course, the mummies of Pharaonic Egypt did contain brains, but this one is older than the Egyptian ones by about 1,000 to 1,200 years.” The cave may also be the site of the world’s oldest winemaking operation, reported eurasianet.org back in September 2009.

How large is the cave? The Areni-1 cave “has two parts: the western (approximately 23 x 5 m.) and the eastern (approximately 15 x 12 m.). Three cave galleries go up to 40 m. deep into the rock with branching caverns and niches. The maximal width of the central gallery in the area of its widening inside the rock is 15 m. The height of the eastern gallery exceeds 10 m. near its entrance,” Pinhasi explained.

The work was supported by the Armenian Branch of the Gfoeller Fund of America Corporation, the National Geographic Society, the British Academy, the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, the Steinmetz Foundation, the Chitjian Trust, and the Boochever Foundation.

#2 Aratta-Kingdom



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Posted 27 June 2010 - 07:14 PM

US Fed News
June 25, 2010


WATERBURY, Conn., June 24 -- The University of Connecticut issued the
following news release:

The discovery of the world's oldest known leather shoe set the
archaeological world and the public abuzz. But what really excites
UConn archaeologist Alexia Smith is not the shoe itself but its

Smith, an assistant professor in the anthropology department in the
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is part of a multi-national team
that recently announced the discovery of a 5,500 year-old shoe at the
excavation site of Areni-1 in Armenia.

The shoe, made of cowhide and perfectly preserved, is an
archaeological marvel because of its age - it dates back to around
3500 B.C. - and its pristine condition. It is stuffed with grass,
perhaps to maintain its shape or to prepare it for storage. And that's
what interests Smith. What a casual observer might see as simply a
handful of grass is for her an intriguing puzzle waiting to be solved.

The shoe contains Poaceae, a family of grasses that includes the
staple food grains and cereal crops grown throughout the world. Smith
is a archaeoethnobotanist, whose primary research interest is the
recovery and identification of ancient plant remains. She uses this
evidence to determine the effects of climate change on food production
in Bronze and Iron Age settlements in the Near East.

"Once the shoe is conserved," she says, "the grass will be removed and
I'll conduct a full analysis. By identifying the grasses, I'll
hopefully be able to reconstruct the specific types of vegetation in
existence at the time it was worn."

Typically, plant remains are preserved through carbonization, and
certain species do not survive the process. But because the floor of
the cave at Areni-1 was covered by a thick layer of sheep dung, the
artifacts left behind were effectively desiccated, leaving both the
shoe and its contents in superb condition for analysis.

Animal bones found at the site point to a society in which cows,
sheep, and goats were domesticated. The presence of additional
artifacts suggests the existence of a range of household activities,
such as cooking over stone hearths and the grinding of grains for
human consumption.

What especially intrigues Smith is evidence that the inhabitants of
the cave heavily exploited tree fruits. "This was a real surprise to
us," she says, "because so few are found at other sites."

In addition to her work at the Areni-1 site, she is working at the
Tell Leilan project in Syria. This is one of the largest
archaeological sites in that country and was one of the most important
cities in northern Mesopotamia during the second and third millennia

Work at that site also focuses on the relationship between humans and
their natural and social environment. Located in the Fertile Crescent,
Syria was one of the areas where hunter-gatherers settled and complex
societies based on formal agricultural principles were developed. This
included not only the propagation of grain crops, such as wheat,
barley, and flax, but also trees such as fig and olive.

The realization that fruit trees were an important component of the
agricultural landscape in Armenia, outside the Fertile Crescent and at
a transitional time between the Neolithic and Bronze Ages (the
Chalcolithic period), adds to the intrigue at the Areni-1 excavation,
because so little is known about their process of domestication.
Currently all evidence points to the Caucasus as the most likely
region of origin.

"Very little is known about food production during the Chalcolithic
period in this region," says Smith, "so any new information is truly

#3 Aratta-Kingdom



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Posted 13 July 2010 - 09:03 AM

Armenian Shoe on Display
By: Nanore Barsoumian


The oldest known leather shoe, otherwise known as the Armenian shoe, is on display in Armenia’s History Museum, drawing in large crowds, mostly tourists.Armenia’s A1+ TV channel interviewed individuals present at the exhibit.

“After hearing about the shoe on television, I specifically asked my father to send me to Armenia for vacation. Now I am resting in Vayots Tsor’s Malishga village, which is not too far from the site where [the shoe] was found. I intend to visit the Areni cave,” said ninth grader Tavit Sarksyan, who resides in Moscow.

Hans Notperkn from Denmark noted that, aside from the shoe, he is interested in other archaeological samples.

“I have heard about the oldest shoe, but I think that other artifacts are interesting as well. I am amazed in Armenia’s culture in general,” he said.

Dimal Krov, an Indian living in Germany, said that he has been familiar with Armenian culture for a long time. Krov, who is married to an Armenian, was visiting the museum with his wife.

“I arrived in Armenia yesterday, and this museum is the first site I’m visiting. I heard about the 5,500-year-old shoe at the museum. With the first glance I became interested in it. I think Armenians feel very proud to have such a find,” said Krov.

The shoe was discovered in 2008 in the Vayots Dzor province’s Areni-1 cave. A month ago, Armenia’s Academy of National Sciences’ Institute of Archaeology handed the shoe over to the History Museum. Currently, museum staff and archaeologists are working on preservation methods for the shoe.

#4 Arpa



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Posted 13 July 2010 - 09:58 AM

Whatever happened to that promise to send the "shoe" to Germany, or was Switzerland to make it preservable?
And now, we read that the "shoe", after so many centuries of anoxia and lack of light is on display in full atmosphere and light where it will turn to DUST in a few days?
Do our so called "archeologists" really know the Science of Archeology?
That is. One stone upon another is a "church"?
And, speaking of "horse bones". Why are the choicest horses known as Arabian?
Not to forget that the Armenian Highlands is the birthplace of Wheat cultivation, and the home of metallurgy, i.e the dawn of the Iron Age.
Here is where "archeology" becomes a science, not "mythology"

Edited by Arpa, 13 July 2010 - 10:23 AM.

#5 MosJan


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Posted 13 July 2010 - 10:36 AM


#6 Aratta-Kingdom



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Posted 09 September 2010 - 02:27 AM

Whatever happened to that promise to send the "shoe" to Germany, or was Switzerland to make it preservable?
And now, we read that the "shoe", after so many centuries of anoxia and lack of light is on display in full atmosphere and light where it will turn to DUST in a few days?
Do our so called "archeologists" really know the Science of Archeology?
That is. One stone upon another is a "church"?
And, speaking of "horse bones". Why are the choicest horses known as Arabian?
Not to forget that the Armenian Highlands is the birthplace of Wheat cultivation, and the home of metallurgy, i.e the dawn of the Iron Age.
Here is where "archeology" becomes a science, not "mythology"

Arpa, couple of days ago I spoke to someone from the museum, I was told that from mid-october, the shoe is no longer gonna be in the museum.

#7 Yervant1


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Posted 20 August 2017 - 10:01 AM

The Vintage News

Aug 18 2017
The Areni-1 shoe: An Armenian cave yielded the oldest leather footwear in the world

Finding a stylish and comfortable pair of shoes is quite a challenge nowadays, but finding a pair that would be both stylish, a good fit,  and last for a long period is even more challenging. Once you do find the perfect shoes, it seems hard to part with them, but, as we all know, everything in this world has a limited life span. Well, almost everything…

The life span of high-quality leather shoes can be increased if one takes proper care of the material. But, we must ask, increased by how much? Maybe by up to 50 years? A Century? A Millennium? How about 5,500 years? Yes, you read that correctly, because the world’s oldest leather shoe is 5,500 years old. It predates Stonehenge, is much older than the Egyptian pyramids and the shoe found on Ötzi the Iceman.

To say that this leather shoe is well preserved might not be sufficient to describe its condition, as it looks astonishingly good. In fact, it was in such good condition that the archaeologists who discovered it thought that the shoe could not be more than 700 years old. They initially thought that the shoe probably dated back to a later civilization, most likely the Mongol period, who used caves in the 14th century.

Th-Areni-1-shoe.-Photo-Credit-332x640.jpThe Areni-1 shoe. Authors: Pinhasi R, Gasparian B, Areshian G, Zardaryan D, Smith A CC BY 2.5

However, examining the material in the two radiocarbon laboratories in Oxford and California produced surprising results and proved that the primary assumptions made by the archaeologists were not even close to what the laboratories showed. It was stated that it was 5,637 to 5,387 years old and archaeologists who worked on the site in Armenia simply couldn’t believe that a shoe could be so ancient.

37-640x387.jpgAn artist’s impression of Ötzi’s right shoe. Author: Donja Malhotra CC BY-SA 2.5

Up until the laboratories came up with the sensational results, the oldest closed-toe shoes were thought to be the ones discovered on Ötzi the Iceman, found by two hikers from Nuremberg in the Ötztal Alps in September 1991.

36.jpgReconstruction of the neolithic clothes worn by Ötzi Author: Wolfgang Sauber CC BY-SA 3.0

The oldest leather shoe in the world was discovered in 2008 in the Areni-1 cave complex, near the Areni village in Armenia. It was not the only find discovered on the site: Very exciting and historically valuable artifacts were also discovered, including the oldest preserved human brain, seeds from nearly 40 types of fruits, cloth, metal knives, dried grapes, and the oldest winery in the world.

Considering the fact that the size of the leather shoe corresponds to a woman’s size 7 (European size 38, UK women’s size 5), it was most probably worn by a woman, but this cannot be claimed with 100 percent accuracy.

Compressed in the heel and toe area, the leather shoe apparently passed many miles before it was left in the cave complex, as co-author Gregory Areshian told National Geographic, “These people were walking long distances. We have found obsidian in the cave, which came from at least 75 miles [120 kilometers] away.”

The-Areni-1-cave.-Photo-Credit-640x427.jThe rock in which Areni 1 was found. Author: Serouj CC BY 3.0

Although leather degrades quickly, this was not the case with Areni-1, where the dry conditions and the floor of the cave being covered by several layers of sheep dung created the perfect environment for the preservation of the shoe.

Today, the world’s oldest leather shoe can be seen in the History Museum of Armenia, where it is one of the most exciting artifacts and is without a doubt the main object of attraction for both tourists and history buffs to visit.

Read another story from us: The shoes of the 5,300-year-old Ice Man have been replicated & they are perfect

Nevertheless, this is not the world’s oldest shoe: discovered in the Arnold Research Cave in Missouri in the United States, the sandals made from plant fibers pre-date the leather shoe found in the cave complex in Armenia by at least 2,000 years. And we thought nothing was superior to leather…


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