The oldest known sandals (and the oldest known footwear of any type) were discovered in Fort Rock Cave in the U.S. state of Oregon; radiocarbon dating of the sagebrush bark from which they were woven indicates an age of at least 10,000 years.

The word sandal derives from the Greek word sándalon. The ancient Greeks distinguished between baxeae, a sandal made of willow leaves, twigs, or fibers worn by comic actors and philosophers; and the cothurnus, a boot sandal that rose above the middle of the leg, worn principally by tragic actors, horsemen, hunters, and men of rank and authority. The sole of the latter was sometimes made much thicker than usual by the insertion of slices of cork, so as to add to the stature of the wearer.

The ancient Egyptians wore sandals made of palm leaves and papyrus. They are sometimes observable on the feet of Egyptian statues and in reliefs, being carried by sandal-bearers. According to Herodotus, sandals of papyrus were a part of the required and characteristic dress of the Egyptian priests.

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