Object of the Month

Roman shoe, Egypt

This leather shoe and detachable sole was excavated in 1899 at Illatum, Egypt by the archaeologist William Matthew Flinders Petrie. It dates to the Roman occupation of Ancient Egypt (30 BC–AD 395). Romans used the thickest leather for the sole and the remaining weaker leather for the uppers and straps. The upper is made of one piece, joined with a seam on the inside of the foot, and near the lace holes is a diamond cut-out pattern.

The shoes show evidence of red staining, suggesting they may have belonged to a high-status person, since the red kermes dye derived from insects from European oak trees was expensive. The wealthy owner would have worn these shoes outdoors, with wool or felt socks, but would have preferred open-toed sandals indoors.

Excavated and donated by W.M. Flinders Petrie; 1889.27.94

Find this object in a new display of World Archaeology in the Upper Gallery as part of the VERVE: Need / Make / Use project.