The Ice Man weareth comfy shoes
Now most of you will have heard of Oetzi the Ice Man, the Alpine hunter who spent more than 5,000 years mummified in ice before his frozen corpse was discovered in the Italian Alps in 1991. Oetzi has been subjected to all manner of tests since his discovery, but surely one of the strangest was an investigation into his footwear. Scientists at a Czech university were intrigued by Oetzi's remarkably sophisticated shoes, and so they made replicas and tested them in the Alps. And the results of those tests were very surprising indeed. Rob Cameron has more.
"These shoes are of an absolutely atypical construction. Because the soles were made from bearskin, and the upper part of the shoes were made of special tree netting. It is surprising, because the early history of man in Europe usually describes early shoes as very simple moccasins. And so probably the beginning of the wearing of shoes is not connected with skin, but with fibre products."
Petr Hlavacek says Oetzi's ingenious shoes - held together with tree-bark netting, insulated with hay and soled with bearskin - suggest our ancestors were far more technologically advanced than we originally thought. To prove it, his team made exact replicas of the shoes and tested them in the Alps. The results were astonishing: the shoes - which, remember, were made at the end of the Stone Age - were completely waterproof, insulated against extreme cold, and constructed in such a way that pressure was displaced evenly to prevent blisters. One of the team was an experienced mountain climber; he said after wearing the shoes for two days in the Alps that he could climb any mountain in Europe in them.
"Give us time! The results are very surprising."
But they wouldn't be put to commercial use - you won't have Nike or Adidas asking you for permission to make Oetzi trainers for sportsmen?
"Maybe. But I repeat, it's too soon for an answer to this question."
Associate Professor of Shoe Technology Petr Hlavacek, ending that report on Oetzi the Ice Man and his remarkable shoes.