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Calceology (from Latin calcei "shoes" and -λογία, -logiā, "-logy") is the study of footwear, especially historical footwear whether as archaeology, shoe fashion history, or otherwise. It is not yet formally recognized as a field of research. Calceology comprises the examination, registration, research and conservation of leather shoe fragments. A wider definition includes the general study of the ancient footwear, its social and cultural history, technical aspects of pre-industrial shoemaking and associated leather trades, as well as reconstruction of archaeological footwear.
Among the early studies of footwear from European archaeological excavations, Roman period footwear figures prominently followed by medieval period finds. Scientifically based research was first applied to Roman period finds and later for prehistoric and primitive footwear. With the development of the Goubitz notation system, the technical aspects of the recovered shoe fragments could be clearly presented, allowing researchers a coherent scientific base for leather artifact documentation and correct interpretation. The interest in the history of ancient shoe fashion starts in the 17th century. The interpretation of historical socio-cultural attributes shows the importance of footwear in an archaeological context. The reference book for calceological studies covers the chronological span from European prehistory (Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages), Roman period, the Middle Ages to the 19th century. Calceological studies outside of Europe include the eastern coast and bays of North America for post-1600 sites, and the North African sites for Egyptian, Roman and Coptic periods.
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