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A 2300-year-old Bedazzled Boot

The Scythian culture went all out for burials. High-status people were even buried in underground log cabins, surrounded by artifacts that wold be useful in the afterlife. The boot shown above was worn by a Scythian woman buried in the Altai Mountains of Siberia around 2300 years ago. The permafrost helped to preserve it in amazingly fine condition, but even if it weren't so old, the craftwork and decorations would still impress us.  

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 secured with sinew. Fanciful shapes—ducklings, maybe?—decorate the seams. But the true mindblower is the remarkable condition of its sole.

Speculation is rampant on Reddit, as to this bottom layer’s pristine condition:

Maybe the boot belonged to a high-ranking woman who wouldn’t have walked much…

Or Scythians spent so much time on horseback, their shoe leather was spared…

Or perhaps it’s a high quality funeral garment, reserved for exclusively post-mortem use…

I would guess number three. I can imagine this woman spending her own free time preparing the garments she would eventually be buried in. Or maybe there was a local industry dedicated to making burial boots. Read more about Scythian burial practices at Open Culture. -via Nag on the Lake

(Image source: Museum Archive)


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