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Hallstatt, Austria is home to one of the oldest salt mines in Europe. People have mined valuable materials there for about 7,000 years. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of these ancient miners and their activities in similar mines in Austria. Recent discoveries include a pair of leather children's shoes estimated to have been almost perfectly preserved for  2,100 years.

The shoes were discovered in a salt mine near the Austrian village of Dürnberg, south of Salzburg. It is made of leather and features triangular "eyelets" that look like they are woven with string. If flax or linen remains, it indicates long-lost lace. Leather is an organic material and tends to fade or rot over time, but the mine's salt has helped preserve this shoe. However, the other half of the couple is probably lost to history. Still, the presence of these tiny shoes, about a  size 30 for European children and a size 12 for American children, suggests that children may have worked alongside adults in the mines. "Perhaps their job was to scoop up discarded stones. Or maybe they brought valuable materials to the surface. Perhaps they had a completely different job," says Aspen Pflughoft. is writing. "The only clue they left behind was a pair of shoes that were 2,100 years old."

Unfortunately, many children around the world still work in mines, so the children who worked in the mines were small in stature. and could perform a variety of tasks suitable for small hands. do. However, ancient miners used wooden shovels, and human remains have been found in the same mines as their shoes. Salt was a valuable item used to alter and preserve the taste of food. So the irony of perfectly preserved children's shoe salt is that it remains valuable over time. 

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