The Shoes of the Iceman

Manolo says, behold! The Shoes of the Iceman.

Lined with hay and held together by a net of rough string, the leather shoes look bulky, itchy and downright uncomfortable. But if they were good enough for Oetzi, the 5,300-year-old man found in an alpine glacier in 1991, they’re good enough for the modern foot, insists Petr Hlavacek, a Czech shoe expert who has created replicas, taken them out for a walk and pronounced them far better than most modern footwear.

“These shoes are very comfortable. They are perfectly able to protect your feet against hard terrain, against hot temperatures, against cold temperatures,” he said, showing off the replicas in his office at Tomas Bata University in this eastern Czech town.

Despite their flimsy leather soles, the shoes offer a good grip and superb shock absorption, and are blister-free, Hlavacek said.

It’s like going barefoot, “only better,” he said. “In the Oetzi shoes, you feel something like freedom, flexibility.”

Like going barefeeted, only you look like the dork.

Manolo says, this shoe it could be the bestseller with the hippies of the crunchiness, but only if the hay it is replaced with the hemp.

13 Responses to “The Shoes of the Iceman”

  1. Ice Scribe July 11, 2005 at 12:25 pm #

    The Ice Scribe, she does not like these slippers of the Ice Man. Nor does she play on the team of the hippies of the crunchiness. Ice Scribe, when she is not wearing the ice skates, wonders what shoes she can wear for the walking? Perhaps the Manolo could instruct with some examples of super-fantasticallness? If he has time and is not too busy, of course.

  2. Tania July 11, 2005 at 12:32 pm #

    Manolo, poor Oetzi and his footwear deserve a break! Given the terrain Oetzi was traversing, these are to be compared with Timberlands and other hiking boots of appropriate ruggedness, not the pretty shoes for the city. And compared with Timberlands, I must say, they are not that far uglier.

  3. willow July 11, 2005 at 1:00 pm #

    I am constantly amazed by the level of resourcefulness our ancestors exhibited. They’re hideous to mine own eyes, of course, but to Oetzi and his contemporaries these must have been the height of comfort and convenience, and, if it is to be believed that they kept the foot warm if not dry, health. Human ingenuity is amazing. If Dagney Taggart were alive then, she would have worn these for sure! :)

  4. Manolo the Shoeblogger July 11, 2005 at 1:23 pm #

    “If Dagney Taggart were alive then, she would have worn these for sure!”

    Please do not attempt to bait the Manolo into the discussion of the Ayn Rand. Such things makes the Manolo’s head hurt.

  5. Zarba July 11, 2005 at 2:55 pm #

    The may have been super fantastic 5,000 years ago, but so were “earth shoes’, and how many of us have a moldy pair of THOSE in the bal of the closet somewhere?

    Well, NOT The Manolo, of course.

    Just sayin’, you know…

  6. Zarba July 11, 2005 at 2:56 pm #

    The phrase would be “…back of the closet somewhere?”. Darn keyboard…

  7. Shannon July 11, 2005 at 3:17 pm #

    “comfortable…” shock absorption…” “protect against hard terrain…”

    The Shannon, she does not understand, is this the purpose of shoes?

  8. La BellaDonna July 11, 2005 at 3:21 pm #

    Behold the shoes of the Oetzi!
    For keeping warm the footsie!
    Safe from rocks, the tootsie!
    Protected from rain and schmutzie!
    - although their owner is kaputzie.

  9. Miz H. July 11, 2005 at 3:34 pm #

    To give him some cred, the researcher of the Oetzi shoes does recognize
    the problem of the ugliness of these shoes:

    “Try going with these shoes to the train station,” Hlavacek said. “The main problem is connected with fashion.” Indeed.

    I still think that hay looks horribly scratchy. Not unlike the natural wool socks much favored by the hippies of the crunchiness for pairing with the Birkenstock Bostons. Eerie how the Oetzi shoe resembles the Boston, like viewing an old photo of a long-departed ancestor. Just add hay!

  10. Tia Nieve July 11, 2005 at 5:10 pm #

    The Tia wonders — are these prehistoric Uggs?

  11. deja pseu July 11, 2005 at 5:43 pm #

    All Uggs are prehistoric. :-p

  12. pdotfu July 11, 2005 at 8:08 pm #

    Hm. I have made myself simple shoes and though they are not as convincingly ugly as Oetzi’s they were amazingly snug and comfy. I suppose the homemade shoes are always like that. Induvidualized fit and all.

  13. willow July 12, 2005 at 1:35 pm #

    Oh! I must have missed something, as I was not attempting to bait the Manolo into the discussion of the Dagney Taggart with my comment. I was merely piggybacking upon a similar comment made in another recent post and meant no harm.

    Now I am curious, but I will refrain from asking as I do not want to the Manolo to suffer from the ache of the head.