Skip to comments.First Shoes Worn 40,000 Years Ago
Posted on 06/05/2008 8:01:34 PM PDT by blam
First Shoes Worn 40,000 Years Ago
Special to LiveScience
Thu Jun 5, 9:05 AM ET
Humans started wearing shoes about 40,000 years ago, much earlier than previously thought, new anthropological research suggests.
As any good clothes horse knows, the right outfit speaks volumes about the person wearing it. Now, anthropologists are tapping into that knowledge base, looking for the physical changes caused by wearing shoes to figure out when footwear first became fashionable.
Turns out, clothes really do make the man (and the woman), at least when it comes to feet. That's because wearing shoes changes the way humans walk and how their bodies distribute weight. If you wear shoes regularly, as most modern humans do, those changes end up reflected in your bones and ligaments.
Susan Cachel, an anthropologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, said science has known about the way wearing shoes affects feet since the early 20th century. Researchers have found several differences between feet that regularly wear shoes and those that don't.
For instance, wearing tight shoes can lead to bunions, which are painful enlargements of the bone or tissue in the big toe, she said. People who don't wear shoes have wider feet and bigger gaps between their big toe and the other four. And women who spend a lot of time in high heels wind up with smaller calf muscles.
Erik Trinkaus, an anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis, was the first person to apply this understanding of how fashion alters physical bodies to anthropology. He found a point in human history where the size of toe bones began to shrink. Combining that data with knowledge of how shoes change the way people walk, Trinkaus reasoned that smaller toe bones meant people had started wearing shoes.
While the oldest surviving shoes are only about 10,000 years old, Trinkaus' discovery pushed the adoption of footwear back to almost 30,000 years ago. He published that research in 2005. Now, thanks to analysis set to be published in the July 2008 issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science, Trinkaus has found that humans were probably wearing shoes even earlier, about 40,000 years ago.
Through thick and thin
Trinkaus' theory is based on a simple fact: Bone size isn't set in stone.
"Bone, at least to a certain extent, responds during a person's lifetime to the mechanical stresses placed on it," said Tim Weaver, a University of California, Davis, anthropologist. "If you work out at the gym, not only will your muscles get bigger, your bones will become thicker."
For most of their history, humans had big, thick toe bones. Trinkaus said this was because they were doing more walking, climbing and carrying than we do today. In fact, he said, all their leg bones were bigger as well, for the same reasons. This is true for both Neanderthals and the earliest modern humans.
But, around 40,000 years ago, that began to change. Trinkaus noticed that skeletons from this time period still had strong, thick leg bones, but their toes had suddenly gotten smaller. "They had wimpy toes," he said. "I tried to figure out what would take away stresses on the toes, but not the legs, and the answer was shoes."
First shoes, first tailors
While Weaver agrees with Trinkaus' theory, Cachel doesn't buy it. She pointed out that, not long after the time period Trinkaus looked at, humans apparently stopped being so active and all their limb bones, not just the toes, started to shrink.
"If the footbones are smaller, this probably reflects less walking and physical activity, rather than the invention of supportive footware," Cachel said.
Both Weaver and Cachel think that it would make sense for shoes to hit it big around the time Trinkaus thinks they did. Around 40,000 and 30,000 years ago, human culture went through a growth spurt.
"The archaeological record shows may changes, including the types of tools people were making and the first definite artwork, and the oldest needles for making clothing appear shortly afterward," Weaver said.
And Cachel said this was probably the time period where a population boom allowed for the first divisions of labor, meaning that, for the the first time, somebody could dedicate all their time to making better, more decorated clothing.
"It seems reasonable that there were changes in footwear around this time too," Weaver said, "But before Erik Trinkaus' study we didn't have any direct evidence."
Maybe primitive men were not so primitive.. i.e. dumb..
That would assume that earth was created by God 40,000 years ago.. to which I say NOT -— the earth is only about 6,000 years old folks....
"Two researchers from Wits University believe that what they have discovered is a 60 000-year-old arrow that was fired from the earliest known bow. Their discovery has pushed back the origins of bow-and-arrow technology by 20 000 years."
I am so proud of my 11 year old when we go to history museums and he tells my 7 year old all the “wrong” evolution things posted.
“First Shoes Worn 40,000 Years Ago”
They were actually found in my wife’s closet. :^)
What culture are they speaking of from 40,000 years ago?
Are you attempting to incite debate or are you being sarcastic because the 6000yr theory is not funny and discredits many good Christians by making them look moronic.
6,000? Dude, I heard it’s more like 6,500+ ! Getcha data strait, George!
I didn’t know there was a “debate”....... however, stating “40,000” as fact is offensive to ME.... just as much as saying “6,000 THEORY” -— I believe that the earth IS roughly 6,000 years old.... you calling my FACTS a theory is offensive to me... having said that.. no need to debate my FRiend..
I take no issue with 6,500 my FRiend :)
Having decent footwear would probably decrease morbidity and mortality, IMHO, especially when hygiene was minimal.
Hosiery followed soon after.
There is no chance I would argue with you because insanity knows no limits and I’d make more progress arguing with a stone. There are many facts (see hard science) in place to suggest the earth is far older than 6000 yrs but I know from experience you’ll just ignore them because they do not fit your world view.
This is an archaeology/antropology thread. Please take your religious comments to a religious thread.
I don't invade your religious threads with my beliefs/opinions, please show me the same respect.
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