Norwegian Archaeologists Discover a Discarded Sandal From 1,700 Years Ago

One man's trash is another's groundbreaking discovery

Mountains in Oppland
Mountains in Oppland, Norway.
Honza and Ivana Ebr, CC BY 3.0

Some archaeological finds abound with splendor — the location of the burial site of a ruler, for instance, or the home of a wealthy merchant that’s been lost for centuries, if not longer. But plenty of archaeological work involves much more modest discoveries — including using one ancient city’s garbage to learn more about its rise and fall.

And now, another person’s trash has turned into a bold archaeological find nearly 2,000 years later. As Smithsonian Magazine reports, the archaeological group Secrets of the Ice heard a report of something odd at a region in Oppland, Norway where ice had recently melted.

What they discovered turned out to be what remained of a sandal that someone had been wearing when traversing the area 1,700 years earlier. (Also located nearby, according to the article: “frozen horse poop, arrow shafts and textiles.”) Stylistically, the archaeologists learned, this sandal was in keeping with what was being worn in Rome at around the same time. Assumably, whoever was wearing this also added some layers to keep their feet warm.

Given the condition of the sandal, the archaeologists suspect that it was thrown away by its owner. If something about this seems familiar, it should — last year, Secrets of the Ice also discovered a ski that had also been discarded in the same region over a thousand years ago. It’s entirely possible, then, that the trash you throw out today might be used by the scientists of the future to reconstruct what life in 2022 was like. The mind boggles.

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