The remarkable preservation of this ancient sandal is the result of its deposition in a cave in the arid Chihuahuan Desert of the Sierra Madre Oriental of northern Mexico. Archaeologist Walter W. Taylor excavated the site, known as Frightful Cave (CM-68), in the 1950s. Radiocarbon dates of material in the cave ranged from 7350 BC to AD 185, indicating that small, mobile, hunter-gatherer groups made repeated visits to the cave over thousands of years. The site yielded numerous artifacts made of animal and plant fibers, the latter mainly from Agave lechuguilla. Among these artifacts were more than 950 fiber sandals. Taylor donated nine sandals from the site to the Museum’s ethnobotanical laboratory. This one came from a lower level at the site and is estimated to be approximately 7000 years old.
In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.