Caligae are the Roman legionary sandals used to wear and they even lent their name to the Emperor Caligula on the battlefield. Those sandals were used by soldiers because they survived the harshest marches on foot and firmly gripped the ground.
A pair of these classic Roman legionary sandals has now been found in Barcelona, thanks to urban development work being carried out at Plaça del Pedró (Raval).
What was actually found were iron studs that were encrusted in the sole, to strengthen the leather the sandals were made from.
While such studs had already been found scattered around in other excavations carried out in Barcelona, this is the first time they have been found in the original position on the sandal’s sole.
Conservationists and restorers are working in the City Council’s Archaeology Services laboratory to clean the rest the of the sandal, stabilise the metal so that it can go on display in a suitable medium, which could afterwards join the other exhibits at the city’s History Museum.
Although at first sight it may seem odd that they bore more than a hundred studs in their soles, considering the weight that would have entailed (each weighs 2.5 grams), according to the conservationists, the total weight of the caligae would have hardly differed from the current weight of today’s shoes.
Research shows that the metal remains of this sandal were found in funeral structures from Barcelona’s Roman cemetery and could date back to the 2nd century AD.