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Delving into the Past: Archaeologists Discover Ancient Espadrilles in Bat-Inhabited Cave, Shaping Europe’s Footwear History Millennia Ago


In a groundbreaking revelation that revolutionizes our understanding of ancient European clothing, archaeologists have made a remarkable discovery—the oldest known footwear in Europe. This extraordinary finding occurred within a bat cave situated in the Granada province of Spain. This newfound treasure trove consists of approximately 20 sandals crafted from esparto grass, with many of them seemingly tailored for children.

Unique Aspects of the Discovery The site, referred to as Cueva de los Murciélagos de Albuñol, was previously exploited by miners during the 19th century. However, recent research, led by Francisco Martinez Sevilla, an archaeologist at the University of Alcalá, has unveiled that these artifacts are considerably older than previously thought.

According to the research published in Science Advances, these espadrille-like shoes were fashioned by farmers during the Late Stone Age, approximately 6,200 years ago—almost 2,000 years earlier than the estimates provided by earlier studies.

Additional Intriguing Findings Within the cave, there were also baskets that appear to be the oldest of their kind in Europe, and like everything else within the cave, they were used for funerary purposes. In the words of José Antonio Lozano, a geologist and co-author of the study, the exceptional climatic and geological conditions of the cave have played a pivotal role in the unparalleled preservation of these artifacts. Prior to this discovery, the oldest known prehistoric shoes were uncovered in Armenia, dating back 5,500 years, and the leather shoes, worn 5,300 years ago by Ötzi the Iceman, discovered in the Alps.

This historic revelation enriches our comprehension of prehistoric Europe. As Maria Herrero Otal, co-author and researcher at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, pointed out, only fragments of these ancient espadrilles endure. Nevertheless, they offer a remarkable insight into the lives and deaths of our ancestors.

The findings, assembled by a team of approximately 20 scientists from diverse fields spanning geology to history, confirm the significance of this site as one of the oldest and best-preserved collections of hunting and fruit-gathering baskets in Southern Europe. This extraordinary collection has opened up new avenues for exploration, both in terms of fashion and archaeology, within prehistoric Europe.