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Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Wooden Shoes May Have Harmed Dutch Farmers’ Feet

Friday, November 17, 2017

Dutch wooden shoesLONDON, CANADA—According to a report in The London Free Press, bioarchaeologist Andrea Waters-Rist of the University of Western Ontario led a team of researchers who examined 500 skeletons of nineteenth-century dairy farmers who lived in the village of Middenbeemster in The Netherlands. The scientists found obvious bone lesions called osteochondritis dissecans on 13 percent of the farmers’ feet. Most populations have an occurrence of less than one percent. The lesions resemble craters in the bones, at the joints, as if chunks of bone have just been chiseled away, Waters-Rist explained. Wearing wooden clogs, which are poor shock absorbers, were probably to blame. Waters-Rist thinks people may have used the hard shoes, known as klompen, as hammers or to kick objects into place, injuring their feet. Wearing the clogs during hard physical labor could have also caused micro-injuries, she surmised. To read about a discovery in The Netherlands, go to “Caesar’s Diplomatic Breakdown.”

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