Roman Shoes


From archaeological context, this appears to be the general term for one-piece shoes with soles and uppers cut from a single piece of leather. The edges were cut into loops through which a lacing pulled the uppers together. A center seam shoe made from a single piece of leather with a single sole and an openwork upper fastened by a lace.

This general type of shoe was among the earliest of shoes among the Greeks, Romans and early Celtic peoples. It continued to be worn well into the Middle Ages into 1000 CE, and in certain areas was worn into the 20th century. Examples include the earlier "brogue", and the pampooties.

The term "Carbatina" appears in Catullus 98 (97) 4 "possis culos et crepidas lingere carpatinas...".  Lewis and Short describes it as equivalent to the Greek "karbatíne", "a kind of rustic leather shoe"; Follet defines it as "shoes of undressed leather, brogues, mocassins."  Xenophon: "some whose shoes had worn out had made themselves karbatinai (gen. fem pl.) out of fresh flayed oxhide", or undressed "raw" hide. Hesychius refers to Karbatina (gen. neu. pl) as "a rustic's footwear of one layer of leather". Pollux claims the term refers to the Carians.  It is an adjective, Karbatinos /Karbatina /Karbatinon, that simply means "made of leather".  (My thanks to Bambi Wimett, Brian O'Donnell, Heather Rose Jones and Judy Gerjouy, for their help here).

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Footwear of the Middle Ages - Roman Shoes,Copyright © 1996, 1999, 2002 I. Marc Carlson.
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