The name “Salt Men” or “Mardane Namaki” refers to the six mummies found in the Chehr Abad mine in Zanjan in 1993, among which there is also a mummy of a women and a teenager boy.
While bulldozing salt from the Chehrabad Salt Mine, Iranian miners uncovered the sixth “salt man” to be found in the last fifteen years. These “salt men” are in fact ancient corpses killed or crushed in the cave and mummified by the extreme conditions. Hair, flesh and bone are all preserved by the dry salinity of the cave, and even internal organs such as stomachs and colons have been found intact.
The first salt mummy, dated to the Achaemenid Dynasty (550–330 BC), was discovered in 1993, sporting a long white beard, iron knives and a single gold earring. A lot of stuff such as knives, ropes and a rubber boot were also found but the research continued to find the rest.
In 2004 another mummy was discovered only 50 feet away, followed by another in 2005 and a “teenage” boy and woman mummies later that year. In fact these bodies are dated to the Parthian (247 BCE–224 CE) and Sassanid (224–651 CE) eras. A sixth corpse found in the excavation campaign 2010 was left in place at the salt mine. Three hundred pieces of fabric were found, some of which retained designs and dyes. In 2008 the Ministry of Industries and Mines canceled the mining permit.
While four salt men have been transferred to the Zanjan Archaeology Museum and one to the National Museum of Iran in Tehran (all can be seen by the public), the final salt man remains in-situ, and half stuck in a mountain of salt. As of 2008, Iran’s Ministry of Industries and Mines canceled the mining permit for the Chehr Abad Salt Mine and declared the site an archeological research center so more work could be done to look for and preserve other salt men.