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Tough like old boots: a Thames skeleton durable footwear | Science

He found lying on his face, his head angry to the side. An arm was bent over his head and…

He found lying on his face, his head angry to the side. An arm was bent over his head and suggested that he had fallen – or might have been killed – to death in the river more than five hundred years ago.

But apart from his puzzling position, the skeleton discovered this year near the banks of the River Thames in London was remarkable for another, very special occasion. Although his clothes had long since expired, the man’s feet were a pair of remarkably well-preserved &#821

1; and extremely rare – knee-high leather boots. Can they keep clues, archaeologists wondered who the man was and, possibly, how he died?

The mystery of humanity in the medieval wells was discovered in Bermondsey by archaeologists who worked on the Thames Tideway tunnel, called “super sewage”, currently being built to update the capital’s Victorian sewage network.



Boots during the conservation process. Photography: MOLA Headland Infrastructure

It is not uncommon to find bodies on the front, but the style and conservation of the men’s clothes, made of leather quarters “sewn together with waxed wire thread, is outstanding,” says archaeologists.

“Leather can be very well-preserved in London, especially if It is found in a gravel that would have been full of water or near the river, “said Beth Richardson, a function specialist for the archaeological team from Mola Headland Infrastructure. In the absence of any metalwork or other evidence, the boots were unaltered, with a single flat surface reinforced with “lumped soles” front and back dated skeletons by the 1400s or early 16th century

“But what is unusual about these boots is that we never find high boots like this – they are always shoes or footwear “said Richardson.” High boots are not very common during medieval times, and actually [during] Tudor times and 18th century as well. If you look at pictures or enlightened manuscripts or portraits, very few people wear boots. “

That they reach the knee make it likely that the boots are wader, experts believe that you can work in or around the river like harbor workers, mudlark or fishermen. The time marinists were known to have long boots, according to Richardson, as evidenced by it large numbers found on Tudor’s warship wreck, Mary Rose.

And like their modern benevolent booty equivalents, they are nothing fine. “They were very simple boots,” said Richardson. They are not brave at all, they do not have the buckle or something like that – they are only practical, daily boots. “Preservation work to protect leather continues, and there is no immediate plan to put the boots on display.

Plants found in the boots are not yet analyzed, but the archaeologists suspect it was a mosaic lining that had been added to keep the feet of the man warm when he was batting.

Even without his distinctive shoes, there are clues to his identity. Evidence of extensive degenerative joint disease along his spine and left hip joints shows that he lived a physical life and would have pain every day, according to an osteologist Niamh Carty. Although she could not rule out being younger than 35, she believes he was probably much older.

In addition, the man has distinctive marks in his teeth, “a possible indication of pulling some kind of material over the bite surface of the teeth or holding an object for the teeth for long periods of time,” said Carty. One possibility is that he took ropes between the teeth, which A fisherman can.

As for how the man came to die, we will never know for sure, but there are no signs of foul play, according to archaeologists.

“He may have worked in the river and the tide became too much to him, he may have fallen over, he may have been tired, “said Richardson.” Maybe he has had too much to drink. We really do not know. “

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