If It’s A Hye Shoe, Let’s Wear It Out


Once there were and there were not … a fashionable shoe that is now known as “the world’s oldest shoe found in an Armenian cave.”

And what was found in a cave in Armenia this week was not just the world’s oldest shoe, but there were scarves and pots and pans and two skulls with missing jaws. This story feels like Armenians have just put on a pair of new shoes, and everything feels alright (Nutini 2007).

Our ancestors were apparently not only fashionable, wearing moccasins in a style that survived for nearly six millennia, but they were also good at housekeeping and quite brutal. One of the skulls must have pulled a Helen Thomas and had his or her jaw yanked right off its face.

This bizarre headline of the day was bigger than the BP (beautiful people) oil spill for a split second. The story went viral, and it warrants all the clichés we can remember to use. So let’s capitalize on these rare gifts from the universe, because good PR comes too infrequently for our people. And criminal Armenians in the news hurt like brand new shoes (Sade 1983).

What other shoe stories can our people’s history and present day tell the world? What shoes are we filling that can help our people and the global population? Whose steps are we following and who is following in your footsteps?  Where are all the goody-two-shoes (Ant 1981)?

The shoe is on our foot now, so we have to see what we can do with this instant headline. Let’s think big. Sex & the City III can be shot in Armenia. Its subtitle could be “the Oldest Armenian Shoe Romance Cruise on Lake Sevan.” Or Super Old Shoe, the superhero. Or Immigrants For (IV) – the shoes they stole. Or how about Shoe Tourism (Asbarez 2010)?

The fact that the story of the world’s oldest shoe being found in Armenia doesn’t happen every day. Maybe it happens once in the history of Earth?

This got me thinking. How little do we know about what people find interesting in the Armenian world. I also realize how little I must know about my ancestors that a dung-covered shoe makes me proud. And how fast do we embrace anything Armenian just because it’s in the headlines!

Maybe before our people discovered pointed shoes were cool, we had better fashion sense. Maybe God spoke to Noah about what proper footwear was when He told the old man to pack his family and animal friends into the Arc. Perhaps this was Noah’s right shoe? Could it be? But if this was Noah’s shoe, what happened to the left shoe and the jaws missing from the skulls?

And what do we know about the fashion sense of our ancestors who walked in and out of those ancient monasteries and architectural marvels? Did they all wear fashionable shoes? Were there multiple colors of leather? Were there different styles? Did people show off their shoes to each other as a sign of affluence and trend-setting? Were there fashion trends three thousand years before Christ? What great fashion secrets are buried on the grounds of our ancestral Homeland that have yet to be unearthed and studied? Who will break the fashion trend news sooner? E! and TMZ or Hollyscoop?

Inquiring minds want to know (That cliché is courtesy of 80s TV commercials that also gave birth to “Where’s the Beef,” and “When EF Huffington speaks, people listen.” Actually, it was EF Hutton, but it’s 2010).

Now back to Shusho (no, not the singer)…

So many questions about these shoes and not many answers. And gosh darn it, the day after the news was announced, there were more articles surfacing about how this shoe in Armenia was not the oldest shoe since there was a shoe in Missouri that was dated to be at least 10,000-years-old. There went my instant excitement for our Homeland’s instant claim to fame.

Don’t you love walking in my shoes (Depeche Mode 2006).

And what about this fascination that was sparked by this ancient shoe. Apparently everyone has wanted to read the story, and from the BBC to the Associated Press were journalists speaking the word Armenia within proximity of the words ‘oldest shoe in the world.’ There were interviews on CNN and the story turned out to be the most popular one on Armenian websites.

Among the facts reported were that the shoe was at least 5,500 years old. The cave was in Vayots Dzor, southeast of Yerevan. And the shoe was covered by sheep and deer poop.

Why did the oldest shoe story make everyone so excited? Did it reaffirm for Armenians our excellent fashion sense? Why did non-Armenians find this oldest shoe story so interesting? Was it because we imagined that Noah and his party crew didn’t wear shoes? Was it because the skulls had no jaws? Or was it because the shoe was stuffed with grass so that it would retain its shape?

Act your age not your shoe size (Prince 1986).

Can you imagine the flocks of scientists and anthropologists that can now be attracted to our Homeland? Can you imagine the funding new digs will receive? Can you imagine the thousands of headlines that can be unearthed when modern-day scientists study ancient-day Armenians? If our shoes predate the Pharaoh’s, we can be the rock stars of the universe, and no longer walking like an Egyptian (Bangles 1986).

I love my narcissistic self, don’t I? Yes, I do (Pinsky 2009).

And if there was one shoe in one cave, what’s the likelihood of us finding more oldest, older than oldest, less old than the older shoe in the world. Perhaps there’s a tourism industry here: Shoe Travel.

Maybe there’s even a Travel Channel series in tracking the oldest shoe in the world. Samantha Brown would be a good hostess to tap in search of places to sleep and eat when going on a Oldest Shoes Tourism Trip. Samantha would even lure Anthony Bourdain and that Man vs. Food guy could be challenged to see how many skewers of khorovadz and how many khacapuris he can down in one sitting in the middle of Republic Square.

We’re really onto something now. And it all started with the drop of one oldest shoe story on the Internet. What will happen when the second shoe drops? Between the first and second shoe, we have a lot of homework to do. If our ancient shoe is this popular, can you imagine what we can do with the really interesting shoe stories from the Homeland?

Let’s put our best foot forward (Overbury 1613).

And three shoes fell from heaven: one for the storyteller, one for him who made him tell it, and one for you the reader.

PS Knock Knock. Who’s there. Hye Shoe. Bless You

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  1. Shah said:

    I really like this… i <3 the shoe alot!

    you know what's funny, i knew about the shoe from every source possible, then in the morning I was at Starbucks and I grabbed the New York Times and right after reading about the plight of the North Koreans I noticed the oldest shoe in Armenia (right on the cover of the NY Times), and for some odd reason I got super happy. I think that tells a great deal about me and definitely about our people. I think we crave to be enviable so much that something even facetious that has the word Armenian next to it means a great deal to us. (Don't let an archeologist read this!)

  2. Kristen Kidd said:

    One of the famous Armenian shoe designers in Paris, Karine Arabian or Stephane Kelian, needs to get a look at this thing, knock the poop off and create a knock-off to sell to every proud Armenian out there. Fun piece, humming all those shoe-related tunes now, this story has me “Walking on Sunshine” (Katrina and the Waves 1985) — you’re a real gumshoe reporter Chaderjian.

  3. Mary Terzian said:

    We have had more publicity with an old shoe dating back 5500 years, than with the genocide dating back a mere 100 years. Have we worn the right shoe on the left foot all these years?

    Yes, the old shoe gave us a lot of fodder for thought.

  4. Heghinar said:

    Paul, I absolutely love this. Beautiful and funny! Thank you.

  5. rita said:

    of course we should be proud that our history is being uncovered… our ancient existence illustrated… no prada or ferragamo can take the place of this shoe.

  6. Hayk said:

    I went to work and my colleagues told me they had heard on the local radio about the oldest shoe found in Armenia… And I was so surprised, I asked them if it was an American Radio, they said they only listen to the Armenian radio -:) Great article and wonderful quotes. And very important questions that need to be answered… Good job and thanks for the apple!

  7. Kay Mouradian said:

    I’m still smiling after reading Paul’s article. From now on whenever I hear someone sneeze, I will think Hye Shoe!

  8. sylvie tertzakian said:

    Could it have been Cinderella’s, as she was rushing home before midnight to comply with the fairy’s request?
    Paul, you have done another beautiful piece.

  9. Lory Tatoulian said:

    Paul, thank you for showing us all the different ways to look at this shoe. I love your commentaries and what you bring to the table. I am e-mailing this article to friends. Keep up the good journalism.

  10. Armine said:

    I don’t understand the tone of the article. There are some
    people who always downplay something just because it’s Armenian and
    others will make more of it than it really is. However, I think
    from the prospecitve of a human being living in a world that is
    constantly revealing itself to us, I find it wonderful that our
    ancestor’s footsteps are finally surfacing. Not only is it
    important for the world community to take notice of such
    discoveries because for so long we have been ignored in every
    history, archeology book, but also, because there are so many
    missing pieces in the history of mankind and perhaps some of those
    pieces lay buried under sheep dung. Those pieces provide a more
    complete and picture of how we domesticate animals, used their hide
    and created clothing from them to keep warm. This finding shows
    that Armenian were far advanced in all these aspects of development
    far before the shoe was made, since it takes time for all that to