Program Details: Open to the public

Walking in Another’s Shoes: Experimental Archaeology and Ancient Sandal Technology

The world’s most extensive collection of Southwestern prehistoric sandals is in CU Boulder’s own Museum of Natural History. Sandals are more than mere footwear: they are an incredibly rich source of data that can unlock the mysteries of prehistoric migration and reveal levels of social status. Their treads can express social identity, their weaving style illustrates the skill-set of the artists and the origin of the artists who created them. They are woefully understudied and many questions remain. This grant will bring together Classics and Anthropology faculty, graduate and undergraduate students with the two Handweaver’s associations (Boulder and Denver), and local running clubs to conduct experimental archaeology on ancient sandal technology. Together, this group -- along with guidance and interactive lectures of outside experts -- will study the methods, materials, and types of sandals made 1800 years ago, weave 100 pairs of authentic prehistoric pueblo sandals and then terrain-test them for functionality and durability on trails around Boulder. This project will engage CU students and Boulder community members with indigenous arts and history, applied archaeological data to scientific experimentation, and will contribute to broader anthropological questions in Pueblo prehistory.

Fall 2017: Research & Production
CU Students and the Handweaver's Guild (HWG) will meet bi-monthly to put to practice ancient technologies of sandal weaving. Five guest webinars (from archaeologists and native artists) will introduce students and guild-members to ancient sandals, ancient technologies, weaving and our research questions. Students and HWG will create a variety of sandals with different methods and materials and undergraduate students will document the process through qualitative and quantitative methods.

Spring 2018: Testing
After honing their skills, students and HWG members will produce a second set of sandals with authentic prehistoric fibers (yucca cordage) and tools (found in Anthropology teaching collection). Additional webinars will include experts in ethnoarchaeology and ancient plant use, and discussions with a modern Pueblo Weaver, Louis Garcia.

Students and runners will terrain test the sandals in a series of controlled hikes (with data recorded on the free App “Pacer”) across a variety of terrains in order to test durability of sandals. We estimate extensive wear after 10 hours. The final data will be crunched, videoed, photos will be collected and a presentation of the results will be delivered in an Open Forum.

This is a public program.


On Campus

  • Eaton Humanities
  • Hale Science

In Colorado

  • Boulder

Program Partners

Supporting This Program

  • Barefoot Runners Club of Boulder
  • CU Boulder Classics Club
  • Handweaver's Guild of Boulder

Sponsoring Units

Arts & Sciences, College of

  • Anthropology, Department of
  • Art and Art History, Department of
  • Classics, Department of

Program Contact

Erin Baxter
Adjunct Faculty

Program Categories


  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology
  • Art History
  • Classics
  • History
  • Humanities
  • Lecture Series

Program Types:

  • Community Event
  • Public Lecture/Demonstration


  • General Public

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