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In northwestern Iran, near the villages of Hamzehli, Mehrabad and Chehrabad, in Zanjan province, is a large salt dome protruding into the surrounding rocky terrain. This salt dome, consisting of saliniferous rocks, in particular gypsum, clay and rock salt, were deposited in the Miocene period some 5 to 23 million years ago. Tectonic activity and the lack of overlying ground had brought the salt very close to the surface allowing it to be extracted by underground mining.

There are many salt mines in the southeastern side of the mountain, many of which have been in operation since antiquity. During one such mining operation in 1994, miners came across a dismembered head that was apparently very old. Salt had desiccated the head and preserved it very well, to the extent that his pierced ear was still holding the gold earring. The head had long hair, a beard and a moustache. Further excavation yielded some of the missing parts of the body, such as a leg which was still wearing a leather boot. The search team also found three iron knives, a woolen half trouser, a silver needle, a sling, parts of a leather rope, a grindstone, a walnut, some pottery shards, some patterned textile fragments, and a few broken bones.

saltman-iran-2

Photo credit: mummipedia.wikia.com

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