Pair of child's leather sandals

From Thebes, Egypt
New Kingdom, 1550-1069 BC

Footwear for life

Sandals were worn by people at all levels of society and were usually woven from papyrus, which was both cheap and plentiful. Priests were forbidden from wearing sandals of any other material. One of the earliest representations of sandals is on the Narmer Palette, which records the unification of Egypt. On the palette the king is shown followed by a servant, who carries his sandals. Egyptian sandals seem to have had the same shape from the earliest times.

These sandals are unusual in being made from leather, stitched with papyrus twine. They are designed with a foot shaped sole and a strap that starts between the big and second toes, then divides at the base of the ankle. The two ends of the strap are attached either side of the sole, with another, securing strap, around the back of the heel. This arrangement of straps reflects the ankh symbol, which represents life. The loop at the top of the ankh is equivalent to the strap encircling the ankle, as it passes around the back of the heel. The cross bar of the ankh is the side straps, while the upright is the strap which passes down the front of the foot and between the toes.

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More information


G. Hart, Ancient Egypt-2 (London, Dorling Kindersley in association with the British Museum, 1990)


Length: 14.000 cm
Width: 5.500 cm (each)
Length: 14.000 cm

Museum number

EA 26780;EA 41578



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