A mysterious set of footprints found in three separate locations around South Africa have blown decades-long theories about sandals wide open.
The human prints, located on the Cape coast, are thought to date to around 148,000-years-old. And while many assumed sandals were worn during the time of Jesus, it was not thought they were worn centuries before that in the Stone Age.
However, the new footprint shows that humans were wearing sandals with “rounded anterior ends, crisp margins and possible evidence of strap attachment parts”. The study was made public by a group of scientists around the world, led by Charles Helm from Nelson Mandela University.
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He wrote: “The purported tracks have dimensions that are broadly consistent with those of hominin tracks. “Track sizes appear to correspond to the tracks either of juvenile track-makers, or else small-adult hominin track-makers.
“While we do not consider the evidence conclusive, we interpret the three sites, as suggesting the presence of shod-hominin track-makers using hard-soled sandals. In the Middle Stone Age, a significant foot laceration might have been a death sentence.
“Ichnological evidence from three palaeosurfaces on South Africa’s Cape coast, in conjunction with neoichnological study, suggests that humans may indeed have worn footwear while traversing dune surfaces during the Middle Stone Age. The hominin track record may be biased towards identification of tracks made by barefoot individuals, therefore the development of criteria for the identification of shod-hominin tracks should aid in future interpretation efforts.”
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The evidence presented could destroy years of expert theories that claimed stone age humans walked around barefoot. Museums around the world are known for their exhibitions of “early man”, showing them with nothing on their feet – and might now be forced into changing the displays.
The Daily Star has contacted the British Museum for a comment.
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