King Tut’s treasure-packed tomb included 81 pairs of shoes in varying stages of decay. With their heat and humidity, Egyptian tombs aren’t the ideal places to store one’s footwear for the afterlife.
A few were crafted with gold and jewels, some with colored beads; many were made from grass and leaves; the most decayed were made of leather. Three unusual pairs may have been created to accommodate the boy king’s club foot, which may have left him hobbling. They have horizontal straps just below the toes, and one pair has supportive panels around the sides of the shoes, says Andre Veldmeijer, author of the new, 310-page Tutankhamun’s Footwear: Studies of Ancient Egyptian Footwear.
He will speak and show pictures of the sandals at a free 7:30 p.m. talk Friday in the Little Theater of the Toledo Museum of Art.
Some of the shoes probably would have fit Tutankhamun when he became king 3,300 years ago at the age of about 10. He continued as ruler, though not a significant one, until his death at 19. His grave, discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter, is the only royal tomb to be found almost intact, and there’s nothing else to compare the shoes with.
Veldmeijer is a Dutch archaeologist who also studies ancient scraps of leather, roping, and cords. He spoke with The Blade from his home in Holland.
“I was working with everything made of cordage, such as fishing nets, and I found sandals made of string,” he said.