THE OLDEST pair of shoes in Europe found in a Granada area cave may be much older than first thought, according to scientists.
Experts used carbon-dating techniques on 76 objects from the Cueva de los Murcielagos, at Albuñol which were dug out by miners in the 19th century.
About 20 pairs of the sandals are at least 6,200 years old — and possibly older — while other woven objects in the cave are dated back 9,500 years, according to a new study by scientists.
The shoes measured 20.5 centimetres long and were well-preserved with the rest of the finds, helped by the low humidity levels of the area.
The University of Alcala’s Francisco Martinez Sevilla, who works as a prehistoric researcher, said: ”These are the earliest and widest-ranging assemblage of prehistoric footwear, both in the Iberian Peninsula and in Europe, unparalleled at other latitudes.”
However, the oldest footwear in the world dates back approximately 10,000 years and was discovered in Fort Rock, Oregon, back in 1938.
Other objects discovered at Cueva de Los Murcielagos include baskets representing the first direct evidence of basket-making skills in Mesolithic hunter-gatherer societies in Southern Europe.
“The quality and technological complexity of the basketry makes us question the simplistic assumptions we have about human communities prior to the arrival of agriculture in Southern Europe,” said Francisco Martinez Sevilla.
He added that the Cueva de los Murcielagos is a ‘unique site’ in Europe to study the organic materials of prehistoric populations.