German archaeologists have described as "sensational" the discovery of a 5,000-year-old woven sandal in Lake Constance in southern Germany, close to the Swiss border.
Lake Constance is home to early settlements of lake dwellings built on stilts
The well-preserved footwear dating back to the Stone Age, is of great historical significance, the head of Stuttgart's City Council Johannes Schmalzl said on Tuesday, March 10.
He described the find as a "small sensation," comparing it to fragments of clothing once worn by Oetzi, an Alpine ice man whose 5,000-year-old mummified body was discovered in a melting glacier in the nearby Alps in 1991.
The European size 36 sandal, made of woven wood, was discovered in silt deposits on the site of an early settlement of lake dwellings built on stilts at the water's edge.
Schmalzl said European Union funds would be used to research and preserve the areas where lake dwellings existed, on Lake Constance and Lake Zurich in neighboring Switzerland.
The settlements were inhabited between the 4th and 1st Century BC.
The remains, preserved for thousands of years by layers of silt, are under threat as a result of climate change, harbor construction and passing ships.
"This underwater archive is in danger," Schmalzl said.
The team working on protecting the ancient dwellings are ultimately hoping for UNESCO designation as a World Heritage Site. They say it will help them to better protect the area and keep it closed to tourists.
"We don't want a Hollywood on stilts under water," Schmalzl said.