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Experts from Oxford and York Started their Studies on Zanjan’s Salt Men


29 November 2006



Professor Mark Pollard


Professor Don Brothwell


LONDON, (CAIS) -- After an agreement between Iran’s Archaeology Research Centre and the universities of Oxford and York, a team consisting of two archaeological scientists from these universities travelled to Iran to study the mummies found in Zanjān’s salt mine, located in western Iran. 


So far, five mummies known as “Salt Men” have been discovered in Chehr Ābād salt mine.


Professor. Mark Pollard, Director of the Research Laboratory Edward Hall Archaeological Science (RLAHA), Oxford University and Professor Don Brothwell, world authority on soft tissue human remains from the Department of Archaeology at the University of York travelled to Iran last week by the invitation of Iran’s Archaeology Research Centre.


The two experts started their studies on the DNA samples of the five salt men and will concentrate their research on the diet, health, and age of the mummies before death. According to Abolfazl Aali, head of the excavation team in Chehr Ābād mine, this will be the start of a new phase of research on the salt men.


Samples of these salt men and their belongings including their clothes had previously been sent to Oxford and Cambridge universities to be dated by implementing genetics studies and DNA analysis. The results showed that the first two discovered salt men belong to the Sassanid dynastic period (224-651 CE) while the last three are dated to the Achaemenid dynastic era (550-330 BCE). However, the new studies will verify the previous findings to give a more accurate and precise dating.


The first salt man was discovered in Zanjān’s Chehr Ābād salt mine by accident by the miners in 1993. More than a decade later in November 2004, the body of the second salt man was discovered in the same salt mine. The year 2005 was the year of salt men discoveries and bodies of the third, fourth, and fifth salt mummies were unearthed in January, March, and December 2005. Archaeologists predict that more salt mummies could still be found lying under piles of salt in Chehr Ābād had the excavations in this salt mine resumed.


“We stopped our excavations in Chehr Ābād salt mine for a season to conduct more studies on what we have which includes the mummies and other archaeological findings from this mine. However, we will pick up our excavations in Chehr Ābād next year,” explained Aali.


Based on a an agreement signed between Iran and British universities, more experts from Oxford and York universities will come to Iran next year to continue studies on Zanjān’s salt men.


These salt men are among rare mummies discovered around the world that are mummified as a result of natural conditions. Since the salt men have been buried in salt for centuries, most of their tissues are well preserved. Special conditions of the salt mine which prevented the activities of micro-organisms caused the excellent preservation of organic and inorganic materials in the mine.  



Extracted From/Source: Cultural Heritage News Agency (CHN)

Please note the above-news is NOT a "copy & paste" version from the mentioned-source. The news/article above has been modified with the following interventions by CAIS: Spelling corrections; -Rectification and correction of the historical facts and data; - Providing additional historical information within the text; -Removing any unnecessary, irrelevant & repetitive information.

     All these measures have been taken in order to ensure that the published news provided by CAIS is coherent, transparent, accurate and suitable for academics and cultural enthusiasts who visit the CAIS website.



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