Shoes and boots, show where your feet have actually gone. — Man Sebeus, 10 New Scythian Tales
In the age of quick style, when prepared obsolescence, cheap products, and inferior building and construction have actually become the standard, how startling to encounter a stylish women’s boot that’s truly built to last …
… like, for 2300 years.
It helps to have landed in a Scythian burial mound in Siberia’s Altai Mountains, where the above boot was found together with a number of nomadic afterlife basics– fashion jewelry, food, weapons, and clothing.
These artifacts (and their mummified owners) were well preserved thanks to permafrost and the painstaking attention the Scythians paid to their dead.
As managers at the British Museum wrote in advance of the 2017 exhibition Scythians: Warriors of Ancient Siberia:
Wanderers do not leave lots of traces, but when the Scythians buried their dead they made sure to gear up the corpse with the essentials they believed they required for the perpetual rides of the afterlife. They usually dug a deep hole and developed a wooden structure at the bottom. For crucial people these resembled log cabins that were lined and floored with dark felt– the roofings were covered with layers of larch, birch bark and moss. Within the tomb chamber, the body was put in a log trunk casket, accompanied by a few of their valued possessions and other items. Outside the burial place chamber but still inside the grave shaft, they positioned slaughtered horses, facing east.
18 th-century watercolor illustration of a Scythian burial mound. Archive of the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, St Petersburg
The red cloth-wrapped leather bootie, now part of the State Hermitage Museum‘s collection, is a stunner, trimmed in tin, pyrite crystals, gold foil and glass beads protected with sinew. Fanciful shapes– ducklings, perhaps?– decorate the joints. But the true mindblower is the impressive condition of its sole.
Speculation is rampant on Reddit, regarding this bottom layer’s pristine condition:
Possibly the boot came from a high-ranking female who would not have actually strolled much …
Or Scythians spent a lot time on horseback, their shoe leather was spared …
Or perhaps it’s a high quality funeral garment, reserved for solely post-mortem usage …
The British Museum managers’ description is that Scythians seated themselves on the ground around a common fire, subjecting their soles to their next-door neighbors’ examination.
Become much better acquainted with Scythian boots by making a set, as ancient Persian empire reenactor Dan D’Silva did, recording the procedure in a 3-part series on his blog site How you bedazzle the soles is up to you.
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