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In addition to large quantities of textiles, wood and food remains from the Chehr Abad salt mine in Iran, five human ‘mummies’ have been recovered dating from the 4th century BC to the 4th century AD. The first to be found was a well-preserved head and a boot containing a lower limb. These are largely skeletonised, but a fifth appears intact and fully clothed. To identify the geographical origins of these people, we have carried out isotopic analysis (13C and 15N) on the bodies and have also analysed over a hundred archaeological bone samples from various sites in Iran. We suggest that two may have been relatively local to the mine and a further two have come from the Turkmenistan steppes. The fifth, the best preserved, appears to have come from further afield.

Below the Salt: Salt Miners from Ancient Iran

Professor A Mark Pollard MRSC CChem FSA

Edward Hall Professor of Archaeological Science, Director, Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, Oxford University

9 th February 2011

Large Chemistry Lecture Theatre, Cardiff University