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Arnold Research Cave, Missouri


Prehistoric Footwear

Fibers, fabrics, and footwear were among the many archaeological remains recovered from Arnold Research Cave in Callaway County, Missouri. The cave is a classic largemouth solution cavity located along the Missouri River bluffs. In areas that remained perpetually dry, these normally perishable artifacts escaped destruction by the physical elements. Evidence indicates that the cave was first occupied as early as the ninth millennium B.C. and has continued to be used by man from that time into the modern era. Numerous pieces of twisted and plied cordage and of braided cordage were recovered along with twined fabric specimens. A twined bag is the most nearly complete of the textile artifacts. Two fragments of spaced, S-twined fabrics had been repaired with course thread to extend their usefulness. Both leaf and stem (bast) fibers from plants were used to make these items.

The footwear specimens from Arnold Research Cave provide examples from more than 7000 years of prehistoric footwear production. They include the oldest dated specimen recovered in North America east of the Rocky Mountains. Of the eighteen complete to partially complete examples of footwear, all but two were made entirely from plant materials. These two were made of flat pieces of leather with fiber cordage used to draw them around the foot. Both sandals and slip-on styles were made. No matching pairs of shoes were recovered. Most of the specimens had breaks or holes worn in the soles, particularly in the heel and ball of the foot, some of which had been repaired. This collection of footwear is important because of the number of well preserved specimens, the variety of styles and construction techniques used, and the different cultural periods represented.


Fragment  of spaced, S-twined fabric and example of heavy braided cordage from Arnold Research Cave

Threads and Treads of The Past:
Prehistoric Fabrics and Footwear from Louisiana and Missouri 6400 B.C. to 1200 A.D.

Exhibit Dates: April - August, 1999

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LSU Textile & Costume Museum
140 Human Ecology Building
Department of Textiles, Apparel Design, and Merchandising
College of Agriculture
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
Telephone: (225) 578-5992 and 578-2281
Fax (225) 578-2697
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