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  • Floor mosaic design from a Christian Church depicting sandals as a reminder to visitors to remove their sandals and wash their feet.
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Floor mosaic from a 6th century Christian church reminding visitors to remove their sandals and wash their feet.
Mount Nebo Museum, Madaba Jordan.
Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY

Africa

Egypt

Many treasures from the Ancient World come from burial sites and include funerary offerings of footwear or shoe-shaped objects. Ancient Egyptians were often entombed with goods which they might require in the afterlife, including simple yet elegant sandals and shoes made out of papyrus. Later artefacts, like those from the Coptic period (4th to 7th century) were also preserved by burial. During the Coptic period, many Egyptians converted to Christianity. Copts believe that Christianity was brought to Egypt by St. Mark, and that upon his arrival, his first convert was a cobbler who repaired his sandals. Many of the surviving examples of Coptic footwear are sandals which show the influence of ancient Egyptian footwear. Some of the surviving leather shoes, however, are embellished with the new Christian symbols. Their preservation is due to the dry sandy environment in which they were buried.