Review of Steppiug Through Time
by I. Marc Carlson
Copyright 2001

For Medieval-Leatherworking@Yahoogroups.com 15 December 2001.

 
  Goubitz, Olaf,  Stepping through time, Archaeological Footwear from Prehistoric Times until 1800.  Zwolle: Stichting Promotie Archeologie, 2001.

This long awaited master opus from a chalceological pioneer was finally published, and I recently received my copy with great expectations. And I can't say that I was disappointed. As could easily be predicticted, the artwork from the man who, it can easily be argued, redefined archeological artwork regarding footwear is magnificent. The text is fantastic, leaving my online shoe material in the dust, as he covers terminology, dating, materials, cutting patterns, stitches and seams, decorations, fastenings, lasts, conservation and cataloging of materials, and so on, as well as giving a detailed catalog of a vast number of continental shoe finds in an intriguing typology. He concludes with a detailed glossary and a list of references (many of which are very difficult to find in the US. Some of his suggestions and conclusions are certain to be controversial, and have already sparked some serious discussion among chalceologists.

If I have a complaint about this work, it is the lack of specific citations and attributions, particularly with regards to particular pictures (for example, there is a sketch of a medieval shoemaker (fig.6, p. 107) which has no indication of its origin - I'm told it's actually a caricature of Professor Goubitz himself, and how he saw such shoemakers, but there's nothing in the text to warn the reader of that). There are a number of images and concepts that I'm given to understand are based on other people's work, but are not always given attribution..

Be that as it may, this is still an excellent work, and it is well worth the money, and would be a welcome addition to the library of any student of historical shoemaking.

Included in this work are two additional sections: Groenman-Van Waateringe, Willy.  "Prehistoric Footwear" and van Driel-Murray, Carol "Footwear in the North-Western Provinces of the Roman Empire." Both of these are also extremely good, and present a great deal of information that has previously only been available in German texts.

All in all, if you have an interest in historical footwear, I can't encourage you enough to seek out this book.

You have my permission to forward this review to any list, newsgroup, or person you feel might be interested in it.

Marc Carlson