Roman shoe, Egypt

This leather shoe and detachable sole were excavated in 1899 at Illatum, Egypt by the archaeologist William Matthew Flinders Petrie. It dates to the Roman occupation of Ancient Egypt (30 BC to 395 AD).

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. 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.

Accession number: 1889.27.94