By Amaris Sturm, Visiting Graduate Student in Conservation
Were Bigfoot’s ancestors Egyptian? This heavy hunk of dirt-covered limestone might just provide the answer. July’s Ugly Object is an Egyptian foot impression, excavated in Karanis in 1928. Karanis is located in modern Kom Aushim, and was previously an agricultural town in its earliest days. Archeologists from the University of Michigan excavated the ancient site from 1924 to 1935. This Karanis artifact consists of a limestone block with a large (58 x 25 cm) foot impressed on the surface, appearing as if someone had stepped through wet concrete.
Although I like the idea that an ancient Bigfoot made its mark in Egypt, this “impression” was more likely cut into the limestone, with chisel marks throughout the surface. Although it is not entirely clear how this literal “big foot” was used, why it was produced, or even how it may have been originally displayed, it does shed some light on ancient foot afflictions with a lovely bit of foot fungus. In actuality, this inactive biological activity is likely from the object’s time outdoors or in uncontrolled environments. Any way you look at it, this size 26 foot yields more questions than answers and proves that a simple object can evoke tall tales and thoughtful steps toward understanding our history.
Can the next clue to finding Bigfoot be found in the Kelsey galleries come October? Perhaps, but you can decide for yourself: this foot will be in the upcoming bicentennial exhibition, Excavating Archaeology at the University of Michigan, on view at the Kelsey Museum from October 18, 2017 through May 27, 2018.