Archaeologists in Austria have made a remarkable discovery by unearthing a child’s shoe that dates back over two millennia, still retaining its original laces. This leather shoe, believed to originate from the second century BC and roughly equivalent to a modern EU 30 (US 12), was found at the Dürrnberg site in western Austria, an area with a history of rock salt mining dating back to the Iron Age.
The exceptional preservation of the shoe is attributed to the presence of rock salt deposits in the region, known for their remarkable ability to protect organic materials. Professor Thomas Stoellner, the head of the Research Department at the German Mining Museum, expressed astonishment at the shoe’s condition, describing it as outstanding.
The ongoing excavations at Dürrnberg aim to uncover further details about the lives and work of Iron Age miners. The shoe discovery was made alongside other organic remains, including a fragment of a wooden shovel blade and remnants of fur with lacing, possibly part of a fur hood.
The laces of the shoe were identified as likely made from flax or linen, according to the statement.
The discovery of a child’s shoe is significant as it indicates the presence of children in the underground mining operations, a fact noted by the museum. Such finds are considered “special” by researchers, offering a rare glimpse into the lives of Iron Age miners, as organic materials typically decompose over time.