Date:

‘Wooden shoe’ rather wear sneakers?

Bio-archeologists have discovered a pattern of unusual bone chips in the feet of clog-wearing 19th-Century Dutch farmers — injuries that offer clues to the damage we may unwittingly be causing to our own feet.

The unexpected prevalence of damage in the farmers’ foot bones is more than just an historical curiosity; researchers believe their findings provide new insights into how some micro-injuries happen.

- Advertisement -

“What we choose to wear on our feet plays a big role in the injuries and trauma our feet can sustain,” said co-author Andrea Waters-Rist, an associate professor of anthropology at Western University.

She has been co-leading a team from Leiden University in examining bones excavated during the relocation of a church cemetery in the tiny village of Middenbeemster, near Amsterdam. Using osteobiography and paleopathology methods as well as stable isotope analysis and mass spectrometry on about 500 skeletons from the dairy-farming area, they have been able to reconstruct the group’s diet, disease and overall health.

Team member and former masters student Irene Vikatou needed only good observation to detect a high prevalence of a rare type of bone lesion called osteochondritis dissecans (OD) in the foot bones.

“They’re like craters in the bones, at the joints, as if chunks of bone have just been chiselled away,” Waters-Rist said. “We didn’t need a microscope to see them, they were that obvious.”

- Advertisement -

The incidence of OD in most populations is rare, less than one per cent. But in this group, fully 13 per cent had the injury and it was only in their feet.

Researchers concluded that wooden shoes –ubiquitous farmer clogs called klompen — were partly to blame. “These shoes are hard and inflexible and are poor shock-absorbers. This was a time before industrialization and you can imagine people using their clog-covered feet to hammer, stomp, or kick an object into place, inflicting impact injuries in their feet, Waters-Rist said. “Wearing these clogs, combined with heavy physical activity, these farmers suffered repeated micro-trauma to their foot bones.”

Now, almost 200 years later, researchers say it’s a clear indication of how footwear can damage our bones in obvious and subtle ways. Said, Waters-Rist, “Look at what high heels do: the constriction of our toes, the strain it places on our joints. If bio-archeologists were to come along in 100 or 500 years and look at the bones of our feet — would they ask, what on Earth were these people wearing?”

The study is published in the International Journal of Paleopathology.

UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN ONTARIO

- Advertisement -
spot_img
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.
spot_img

Mobile Application

spot_img

Related Articles

Archaeologists search crash site of WWII B-17 for lost pilot

Archaeologists from Cotswold Archaeology are excavating the crash site of a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress in an English woodland.

Roman Era tomb found guarded by carved bull heads

Archaeologists excavating at the ancient Tharsa necropolis have uncovered a Roman Era tomb guarded by two carved bull heads.

Revolutionary war barracks discovered at Colonial Williamsburg

Archaeologists excavating at Colonial Williamsburg have discovered a barracks for soldiers of the Continental Army during the American War of Independence.

Pleistocene hunter-gatherers settled in Cyprus thousands of years earlier than previously thought

Archaeologists have found that Pleistocene hunter-gatherers settled in Cyprus thousands of years earlier than previously thought.

Groundbreaking study reveals new insights into chosen locations of pyramids’ sites

A groundbreaking study, published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment, has revealed why the largest concentration of pyramids in Egypt were built along a narrow desert strip.

Soldiers’ graffiti depicting hangings found on door at Dover Castle

Conservation of a Georgian door at Dover Castle has revealed etchings depicting hangings and graffiti from time of French Revolution.

Archaeologists find Roman villa with ornate indoor plunge pool

Archaeologists from the National Institute of Cultural Heritage have uncovered a Roman villa with an indoor plunge pool during excavations at the port city of Durrës, Albania.

Archaeologists excavate medieval timber hall

Archaeologists from the University of York have returned to Skipsea in East Yorkshire, England, to excavate the remains of a medieval timber hall.