Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered what might be the oldest human footprint ever found, imprinted in mud which has since turned to stone in an oasis in the desert. Other archaeologists have discovered a footprint made by the sandal of a Roman soldier in a wall surrounding the Hellenistic-Roman city of Hippos, east of the Sea of Galilee.

BBC News quotes Egyptian antiquities chief Zahi Hawas as saying about the Egyptian footprint, “This could go back about two million years.” Historian Khaled Saad thinks it could be even older still, pre-dating the 3.2 million-year-old skeleton called Lucy, which was found in Ethiopia.

The footprint in Israel was discovered by Israeli archeologist Arthur Segal, working with teams from Poland and Minnesota. The print, made by a hobnailed sandal called caliga, the sandal worn by Roman soldiers, is one of the only finds of this type. The discovery of the print in the cement led archaeologists to presume that legionnaires participated in construction of the walls.

The ancient city of Hippos (Sussita), at 350 meters above sea level, overlooks the Sea of Galilee. The city was established during the period of Seleucid rule. It flourished during the Roman and Byzantine periods until it was destroyed by an earthquake in the year 749. Hippos (Sussita), together with Beit Shean and other cities east of the Jordan River, formed the area in which Jesus performed most of the miracles described in the New Testament. Segal says, “The remains of Sussita, its view of the Golan Heights and the Galilee and its historic significance in Christianity, have made it one of the most attractive sites in northern Israel.”

Art credit: University of Haifa

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