Bioarchaeology of the Near East, 13:23-47 (2019)

Reappraisal of the number of salt mummies identified in Chehrabad Salt Mine, Zanjan, Iran

Hamed Vahdati Nasab* (1), Abolfazl Aali (2), Mandan Kazzazi (3), Mark Pollard (4), Thomas Stöllner (5,6)

(1) Department of Archaeology, Tarbiat Modares University,
PO Box 14115-139, Tehran, Iran
email: (corresponding author)
(2) Zolfaghari Archaeological Museum,
Taleghani st., PO Box 4518647159, Zanjan, Iran
(3) Edinburgh Unit for Forensic Anthropology,
School of History, Classics, and Archaeology, University of Edinburgh,
4 Teviot Pl., Edinburgh EH8 9AJ, UK
(4) School of Archaeology, University of Oxford,
1 South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3TG, UK
(5) Institute of Archaeological Studies, Ruhr Universität Bochum,
Universitätsstraße 150, D-44801 Bochum, Germany
(6) Research Department & Mining Archaeology Research Branch,
Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum,
Am Bergbaumuseum 28, D-44791 Bochum, Germany

Abstract: The Chehrabad Salt Mine mummies were first discovered in 1993. So far, six individuals have been identified in the mine. Three (1, 2, and 3) were found accidentally by miners, while another three (4, 5, and 6) were discovered through systematic archaeological excavations. This article shows that there are two more individuals represented in the collection, bringing the total number of mummies to eight. Osteological examination confirms that the extra bones initially placed with Salt Man 1 belong to another individual, possibly a young adult male, of unknown date, called Salt Man 7. In addition, results from AMS dating of an extra piece of mandible, which was originally placed with the skeletal remains of Salt Man 3, indicates that this specimen does not belong to this individual; it was removed from the collection and renamed as Salt Man 8. The osteological analysis of the bone remains of Salt Man 8 suggests that this individual might also be a young male.

Key words: Salt Men; natural mummies; Achaemenian; Sassanian; osteography

Received 22 December 2018; accepted 24 May 2019; published online 30 September 2019.

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