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Work Pair of sandals
Department of Egyptian Antiquities: Christian Egypt (fourth - twelfth centuries AD)
Pair of sandals
© 2000 Musée du Louvre / Georges Poncet
Christian Egypt (fourth - twelfth centuries AD)
This pair of sandals was probably unearthed from the cemetery at Panopolis, no doubt from the tomb of a woman. The flat leather sole is richly decorated. Two broad burgundy leather straps cross over the instep, and there is a third, central strap to which the thong between the toes must originally have been attached. A leather circle is sewn onto the junction of the straps with plant fibers wrapped in a leather thong. The richly-decorated leather indicates that this was luxury footwear.
It is difficult to imagine that these highly sophisticated sandals were intended for everyday wear. With their elegant and varied decoration (based on geometrical and floral designs), and refined colors (red, burgundy, and gold), they are luxurious and fragile items which were probably only used to accompany the deceased on her final journey.
The archaeology of shoes
The history of ancient Egyptian footwear has yet to be written. Certain painted shrouds from the Roman Period feature characters wearing sandals. On mural paintings from the Byzantine Period, monks and holy figures are portrayed either barefoot or wearing slipper-style shoes. The often schematic portrayal of the deceased on funerary steles makes it difficult to distinguish the form of their footwear. Texts are no more helpful than images, and apart from the harsh imprecations of virtuous clerks such as Clement of Alexandria ("those little sandals adorned with gold-embroidered flowers are an absolute disgrace"), ancient authors spend little time on descriptions of clothing.
Bibliography- MONTEMBAULT V., Catalogue des chaussures de l’Antiquité égyptienne, Paris, 2000, n°55, p.114-115
Pair of sandals
Panopolis (modern Akhmim)
Openwork gilded leather, plant fibers
W. 23.3 cm; L. 13 cm; American shoe size: 13
Lower ground floor
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