Excerpt Taken from NeSA-R 8th Grade Practice Test:

From Sandals to Sneakers-Shoes Step Forward
Shoes-we wear them nearly every day. We walk, run, jump, climb, and stand in
them for hours on end. Yet we hardly think about them because they are such an
ordinary part of our daily lives. Shoes were not always an important part of
people's wardrobes. The ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Persians made and wore
sandals, but actually went barefoot most of the time. These people lived in regions
where the weather was temperate, and shoes were not needed to keep their feet
warm. Archaeologists have found shoes in the ruins of these civilizations, but they
seem to have been worn mainly by royalty, who could afford to employ tailors and
shoemakers.

Shoes in Early Civilizations
As shoes became more common in ancient Egypt, the first ones were simple
sandals created mainly to protect the soles of the feet from rough surfaces. The
easiest way to make shoes in these ancient times was to use materials that were
readily available, including tree bark, leaves, and grasses. In ancient Egypt, sandals
were made of rushes, which are grassy plants with hollow stalks. Rushes are the
same plants used today to make chair bottoms, mats, and baskets.
Among the ancient Greeks, sandals were woven of similar plant materials, but the
Greeks also varied the process by tying small pieces of wood together with dried
grass. In later years, they made sandals with leather from the hides of animals. The
first Greek shoes were purely functional, but over time most were dyed and
decorated to make fashion statements. Women began to wear soft, enclosed leather
shoes, and these grew increasingly fancy in the later years of the Greek
civilization.

The Romans wore sandals much like the Greeks did, but used more pieces of
leather to make them. Some Roman sandals had straps that wrapped around the
ankles. Shoemakers often dyed these sandals in bright colors that represented the
different jobs held by the people wearing them. The patricians, or privileged
classes, wore red sandals with moon-shaped ornaments on the back. Senators wore
brown shoes with four black leather straps wound around the lower leg. Consuls,
or legal officers, wore white shoes, and soldiers wore heavy leather sandals that
were more like boots-but with bare toes!


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