The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
(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.
far, five mummies known as “Salt Men” have been discovered in Chehr Ābād
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Copyright © 1998-2015 The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies (CAIS)