Calcei-closed Roman or Greek shoes made of tanned leather. They were a sole to which the upper part was sewn, completely covering the foot. Socks were often worn under the calces for both comfort and warmth, especially in the northern provinces. Sometimes the upper part of the calc had decorative cutouts. Also, the foot of the shoe was often lined with nails for stability while walking in non-urban areas.
The ancestors of calca first appeared on the Italian peninsula among the Etruscans - it was a leather shoe with an insular nose. There is an opinion that this type of shoes could get because of the Middle Eastern influence. An example of calca can be found on a sarcophagus from Cerveteri, late 6th century BC.
Over time, the pointed spout went out of fashion, but the calciae themselves continued to be used for centuries. This type of footwear was used by the broad masses of the inhabitants of antiquity, in particular ancient Rome: senators, senior officers, military men, emperors, women, children, etc. Moreover, it should be noted that the listed persons could have other types of shoes besides calzei- sandals and caligas.
The calciae of legionnaires and auxiliaries differ from those of senators and legates in their simplicity and practicality. Since one of the main features of the legion was the ability to overcome long marches on foot, shoes played a vital role in this issue. Poor footwear could lead to both reduced mobility during combat and injuries even before the battle began. So calcei was the most demanding part in terms of personal fitting of equipment. Officers, for example centurions, often depicted shoes of the calceus type, and not kaliq. Also, according to the places of discovery, it should be noted that Calcae were located throughout the territory of the Roman state. As a rule, closed shoes were more common in the north.
An example of images of calcae can be seen on the column of Trajan and the column of Marcus Aurelius.
Calcae differed not only in the length of lacing holes, their appearance, decorative ornaments or color, but also in their height. There are images that are close to modern "sneakers", supported by archaeological sources. An example is a man's calcea from the Roman fort at Bar Hills, dating from 142-180 AD. The sole size was 28 cm.
A fairly important element of military calcae is the nail padding of the sole for more comfortable walking and greater stability. But nevertheless, it is impossible to say for sure whether this is a mandatory element of military footwear or its distinctive element. It is quite possible that the padding was also used for civilian shoes. It should also be noted that the padding could be carried out in various patterns, some of which can be found in the article about kaligi.
The widespread use of calcae does not mean that they were all the same. Calzees were distinguished by the quality and color of the leather they were made from, as well as the pattern, patterns and lacing. It has been suggested that Caesar wore bright red calceas in his triumphal procession (Cassius, Roman History 43.432). Perhaps he was emphasizing color as a way to distinguish social classes. For example, the black calzees of horsemen seem to be similar in position to the shoes of senators and patricians, but it was somewhat cheaper to paint the shoes black.
The calceias of the patricians and senators were distinguished from each other by the quality of their leather and the skill of their workmanship. By the time of Diocletian's edict, the calcae of the patricians were sold for 150 denarii, while the cost of the calcae of the senators was 100 denarii. There is no literary or artistic evidence to indicate exactly how the boots of horsemen and senators differed, but the edict (9.7—9) lists horseman's calzees at a significantly lower price, 70 denarii per pair. The calcae on the statue of the orator Aulus Metellus strongly resemble the later shoes of senators and patricians.
From the time of the late republic to the middle of the Empire, the appearance of calcareous stones practically did not change, but was only supplemented with small minor variations. Calcei were worn through a cut on the upper part, which allowed the boot to be opened wide for putting it on. Four leather belts crisscrossed around the foot and ankle, and were tied in two knots in front of the ankle. Such calcae can be seen on the Altar of Peace.
On the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, you can see calcei with a double knot. Looking at them, we can assume that the calcei had a double sole, between the layers of which two long leather strips were threaded around the leg. You can also notice that the toes were covered with a soft layer of skin with calcium.
The Norwegian Institute of Rome has a statue of the Empress in calcae, dated to the third or fourth century AD. Round relief ornaments around the lacing holes are interpreted by researchers as pearls. The rich decoration of the shoes and cloak indicates that only the Empress could dress like this.
Calci in women could not have significant differences from men's or children's shoes. This is well demonstrated by the findings from Bar Hills, where there are not only male, but also presumably female and children's calceae. All 3 samples of shoes have a low height and are richly decorated with cut-out patterns. In the images, women's legs were often covered with clothing, which often makes it difficult to recognize them in pictorial sources.
There is an opinion that the noble pious women of Ancient Rome were decently prescribed to wear closed shoes. Open-type shoes could indicate excessive looseness of a woman. However, there are Roman images of noble women in open shoes, in particular sandals. Quite a large part of Roman images were made under Greek influences, sometimes completely copying the Greek statue, changing only the head, and in Greece open shoes were much more common. There are enough images of women of different status in both open and closed shoes, so it is impossible to say unequivocally that closed shoes were of a class nature.
Calceae are best suited for reconstructing images of Roman citizens and Roman officers: senators, priests, centurions. In the case of legates and emperors, calceias are also best suited, but they take on a less practical, but at the same time more pompous appearance. Women could also wear calcae, and in the reconstruction of female images, they are also applicable accordingly. The main difficulty in reconstruction can be the correct choice of sources for the image, since they are similar in many structural elements. To determine whether military shoes are worn or not, you can look at the location of the find (if it is a Roman fort, then it is almost certainly the shoes of an auxiliary/legionnaire). Anatomical features can also help in determining whether shoes belong (if the shoes are small, then most likely they are children's shoes), as well as the type of lacing and the presence of nails on the sole. Below are examples of reconstructions of calcae dating back to the 1st-2nd centuries AD.
Goldman, N., in Sebesta, Judith Lynn, and Bonfante, Larissa, editors, The World of Roman Costume: Wisconsin Studies in Classics, The University of Wisconsin Press, 1994