Ancient Xinjiang shoes to be restored

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A Chinese archeological research institute is about to start work on restoring a pair of 1,400-year-old leather shoes unearthed from the Astana Tombs, the ancient cemetery site in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Ancient Xinjiang shoes to be restored
A Chinese archaeological research institute starts restoring a pair of 
1,400-year-old leather shoes unearthed from the Astana Tombs 
[Credit: China News]

Xu Dongliang of Academia Turfanica said the shoes, plucked from the large archive of items excavated from the Astana Tombs since the 1950s, are 24 cm long, with the vamps, uppers and soles separately tailored. They were made of goat skin and the parts sewed together using animal sinew.

Academia Turfanica has invited experts from Germany to supervise the restoration work, which is expected to take 20 days.

Xu said technicians would use specialist microscopes to analyze the shoes. Using precision techniques, the restoration will remove dirt and mould, and reshape and reinforce the shoes to make them more sturdy.

Over 300 leather relics have been discovered in the tombs in present-day Turpan. Academia Turfanica has been heavily involved in restoring the items, most of which are charred, damaged or in a state of deterioration.

Archaeologists regard the Astana Tombs as a treasure trove of history. The site used to be a public burial place for officials and ordinary people of different ethnic groups in the ancient city of Gaochang.

Since the 1950s, the tombs have been officially excavated 14 times. Some 456 tombs and 10,000 valuable relics have been discovered.

Source: Xinhua [March 16, 2015]

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