Friday, June 11, 2010

Old Shoes.

Not especially insightful this one, I imagine. Anyway, here I go.

A news story caught my eye this week - that of the bloody old shoe! (read it here). Essentially, some archaeologists found a 5500 year old leather shoe in a cave in Armenia preserved under heaps of sheep dung (finds don't get much more interesting than that, do they?!).

Anyway, you're perhaps wondering how I'm going to squeeze a classical angle out of this and here it is: finds like this always remind me that the ancient world wasn't that ancient. It's often a bit of a mental challenge for me to remember that very little changed in everyday life for a few millennia (until the 19th and mostly 20th century) and that the ancients lived relatively similar lives to people alive just a few hundred years ago (stress on the "relatively").

I'm always surprised when I see artefacts from ancient homes - shoes, mirrors, hair clasps, cups - the lot. Something in my mind always associates the ancients with being truly ancient. Finds like this remind me that the Romans had shoes quite similar to modern leather shoes and they're really not so distant as they seem.

Perhaps this post betrays my own stupidity, but I always find keeping a firm chronology in my head (and understanding that time matters) can be rather difficult. It's rather easy to clump the whole of antiquity to together, even though there are some 500 years or so between the beginning of the classical period and the death of Augustus, for example. A lot happened, and a lot changed.

Like I mentioned before - everyday life hadn't changed too much during that period, and so perhaps it's unfair to compare that five hundred years to the same period between the 1500s and now, where life has changed significantly, but nevertheless, it's vital to remember that antiquity is not a single period but rather many linked ones.

That's my ramble over for today. It's insanely beautiful weather here in Plzen and I plan to try to enjoy it with several beers from this wonderful place.

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