In 1994 salt mining operations in the Chehrabad Salt Mine in Iran,recovered the remains of the salt man. Several artifacts, including iron knives, a gold earring, and a walnut, were also uncovered near the site. Ultimately he was determined to be an ancient salt miner. It is believed that the salt man lost his life in the mine as a result of a mining accident caused by falling rocks. Carbon dating has put his life in the time of the Sasanian Empire.
Multiple three-dimensional scans show fractures around the eye and other damage that occurred before the death of the salt man, indicating a hard blow.
Visual characteristics included long hair and a beard, and a golden earring on the left ear. The presence of the earring may identify the salt man as a person of influence or rank. For a certain period of time it was deemed that the "Salt man" was in danger of becoming damaged by bacterial infection due to the display cases not being sealed properly. This has resulted in some damages to the internal organs.
Much scientific research has been conducted on both the mummies and the mine. Areas in which the research is being performed include archaeobotany, archaeozoology, isotope analysis, mining archaeology and physical anthropology,
The salt man has been carbon dated to the Sasanian era (A.D. 240 to 640). An Isotopic analysis of the remains revealed where these miners were from, somewhere from the Tehran-Qazvin Plain, (relatively local to the mine). Whereas some were from North-Eastern Iran, and the coastal areas around the Caspian Sea. Furthermore the archaeozoological finds such as animal bones found within the context of the Salt men, shows that the miners might have eaten sheep, goats and probably pigs and cattle as well.
Archaeobotanical finds recorded, shows different cultivated plants were eaten, indicating an agricultural establishment. The wealth of fabric and other organic material (leather) worn by the salt men, allowed a thorough analysis to be undertaken.
Ultimately, these studies have helped archaeologists to gain a better insight into ancient mining practices. By studying the various artifacts in their stratigraphic layers, three different mining phases, Achaemenid, Sasanian, and Islamic, have been distinguished.
The salt man was crushed in the cave and mummified by the extreme conditions. His hair, flesh and bone were all preserved by the dry salinity of the salt cave. Salt absorbs water from organisms, making the environment too dry to support harmful mold or bacteria, and as a result preservation.
The salt man was a Roman Empire-era salt mine worker. Five other "salt men" have been found in the mine in recent years (from 1993 to December 2005). They range in date from the Achaemenid period (539 to 333 B.C.) to the Sasanian era (A.D. 240 to 640). After the second discovery, mining operations were stopped in the areas of the mines considered useful to archaeologists.
Aali, A. (2016). Ancient salt mining and salt men: the interdisciplinary Chehrabad Douzlakh project in north-western Iran. [Online] retrieved from http://antiquity.ac.uk/projgall/aali333/
Brooks, H. (2014). Ancient Iranian Salt Mine Mummies. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/article/747/
Hearn, K. (2007). Ancient "Salt Cured" Man Found in Iranian Mine. [Online] retrieved from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/07/070703-salt-man.html