Ancient Scythians were a nomadic people who traversed the Eurasian continent.
History buffs, how exciting it is to learn about the discovery of a 2,300-year-old boot that's been preserved so well that it still looks like it's in near-mint condition? One such ancient artifact was found in 1948. It was a woman's boot discovered in Siberia's Altai mountains. Archaeologists also managed to unearth jewelry, food, and weapons but the stunning shoe truly stood out. According to My Modern Met, the shoe is believed to be 2,300 years old and what's striking is its sole which is made of soft red leather along with a geometric design sewn with pyrite crystals and black beads. The shoe is now part of the State Hermitage Museum‘s collection of ancient artifacts in St. Petersburg, Russia.
So who did the boot belong to and how did survive thousands of years from degradation? The boot belonged to one of the ancient Scythians. They were a group of nomadic people who traversed the Eurasian continent. This particular shoe seems to have been part of the Scythian's burial mounds which explains why other after-life essentials were found near it. Just like other ancient civilizations, these nomads would bury the dead with items to take into the afterlife.
According to Open Culture, curators at the British Museum explained in advance of the 2017 exhibition "Scythians: Warriors of Ancient Siberia": Nomads do not leave many traces, but when the Scythians buried their dead they took care to equip the corpse with the essentials they thought they needed for the perpetual rides of the afterlife. They usually dug a deep hole and built a wooden structure at the bottom. For important people these resembled log cabins that were lined and floored with dark felt – the roofs were covered with layers of larch, birch bark and moss. Within the tomb chamber, the body was placed in a log trunk coffin, accompanied by some of their prized possessions and other objects. Outside the tomb chamber but still inside the grave shaft, they placed slaughtered horses, facing east. It is likely that these preparations along with the permafrost of the Altai Mountains preserved the boot for centuries.
2300 years old Scythian woman's boot preserved in the frozen ground of the Altai Mountains pic.twitter.com/hGbTQWcrew— Museum Archive (@ArtifactsHub) June 18, 2020
It is believed that Scythians seated themselves on the ground around a communal fire as a way of socializing. They would sit on their knees subjecting their soles to their neighbors’ scrutiny. The detailing of the bottom would be shown to others and was probably why it was an important part of their attire. Other theorists suggest that the boot was made exclusively for burial, which would account for the immaculate state of the sole.
According to British Museum Blog, the Scythians (pronounced ‘SIH-thee-uns’) were a group of ancient tribes of nomadic people who originally lived in what is now southern Siberia and they were formidable warriors. Not only did they show great power in battle they also liked kicking it back and celebrating. They loved drinking and were originally called "milk drinkers" until adopted wine consumption from Greeks and Persians. Feasting was an important part of Scythian funeral ceremonies and an important event for social bonding between individuals and tribes.