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The use of footwear can be traced back to the ice age, about 5 million years ago. People, especially travelers, needed something to protect their feet in harsh weather conditions. Some other reports indicate that footwear was used at the end of the Paleolithic period, when early humans learned the art of leather tanning. The footwear during this period was in the form of wraps made from leather or grass. Eventually, the idea to shield the feet evolved into oval pieces of leather bound by a piece of strong leather thongs. This gave way to the flip-flop or sandal, believed to be the first crafted footwear.
Evidence from Egyptian funeral hall paintings illustrates the different stages in the preparation of leather footwear. During this time in Egypt, footwear depicted power and class. The Pharaohs’ sandals had a peculiar style of turned up toes, a feature not found in common footwear. Egyptian sandals were made from straw, papyrus and palm fiber. Egyptian women decorated their footwear with precious stones and jewels.
Material evidence shows that the Greeks took great care of their feet. They wore a variety of footwear for different activities. Greek women wore sandals to signify their social class. Their footwear personified beauty, grace, modification and lavishness.
The Romans created durable, leather thongs. These enabled them to travel by foot comfortably. The early flip-flops were made from materials like straw, leather, cowhide and grass. In the early civilizations, footwear was used to indicate the social status. They were worn for both protection and hygiene.
Flip-flops are now made from materials like leather, rubber, canvas, wood and plastic. They, as well as most footwear, are considered an extension of the personality. They are designed for adults and children who can wear them at the beach or at parties.
write by Allison Leigh Downey