In 1993, a mummy was accidentally discovered in the Chehrabad salt mine in northwestern Iran, and since then, five additional ‘salt men’ have been found elsewhere inside the mine. Who they were and what they were doing there 1700 years ago has yet to be determined, however the unique preservation of the bodies is intriguing, and studies are ongoing in hopes to learn more about these ‘accidental’ mummies.
Salt Man 1: Found in 1993, this body had long hair, a gold earring and a beard, and was found with several items in his possession. These included a leather boot (with the leg inside), three iron knives, a sling and silver needle, pieces of leather rope, a walnut, some pieces of pottery and a grinding stone, and some textile fragments. The skull appears to have been fractured before death, but why he was there and exactly how he died has yet to be determined.
Salt Man 2: Found in 1994, the second salt man still had hair, a beard, nails, jaw, and hand and foot bones still intact. He was found with several pieces of clothing, a hand-woven rug with a unique pattern, and seems to have been around 35-40 years old at death. Interestingly, he was found only about 40 meters away from where the first salt man was discovered.
Salt Man 3: Found in 2005, the third salt man was located underneath a rock – which had unfortunately done a fair bit of damage to the skeleton. The body was found with a leather sack of salt, two pairs of shoes and two cow horns, and a clay tallow burner. According to excavators, the sack of salt was tightened as though he had just filled it and was probably about to leave the mine – whereupon he was crushed by the falling rock.
Salt Man 4: Found in 2005, the fourth salt man may actually be a salt woman! There were no traces on a beard on this mummy, and the height was significantly less than the previous mummies. This one was found with an iron knife inside a scabbard at the body’s waist, and two ceramic jugs with oil inside that might have been used for a lantern. The ‘man’ also wore two gold earrings, and was wearing a knee-length quilted garment and leggings that reached the thighs. Other speculation is that the body is of a young adult male, which could account for the size.
Salt Man 5: Found in late 2005, very little information has been revealed about this mummy.
Salt Man 6: Found in 2007, this salt mummy has yet to be removed from the mine, as excavators are concerned about preservation. The mummy was revealed due to heavy rainfall in the area, and only about half the skull is currently visible underneath the large rock that probably caused his death. Since this salt man was only recently discovered, there is very little information available to the public at the current time.
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Tomorrow: 35000 year old mammoth carving