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Salt mummy found

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  • minnesotastan
    In Iran... (photo at the link) http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2007/06/22/saltman_arc.html?category=archaeology&guid=20070622110000&dcitc=w19-502-ak-0000
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 26, 2007
      In Iran... (photo at the link)

      http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2007/06/22/saltman_arc.html?category=archaeology&guid=20070622110000&dcitc=w19-502-ak-0000

      3rd-Century Man Preserved in Salt
      Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

      June 22, 2007 — During the Roman Empire period, just after the fall of
      Parthia, a salt mine worker from northwestern Iran lost his life
      following a catastrophic rock collapse. Approximately 1,800 years
      later, the man's body — preserved in salt — was discovered in the very
      spot where he died, according to recent Iranian news service accounts
      and to a report issued by the Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies.

      Since salt prevents bacterial growth and acts as a drying agent, the
      unfortunate accident victim became a rare natural mummy. He is the
      sixth "salt man" to be found at the Chehr Abad mine in Zanjan province.

      Removal of the body from its salty environs could damage it, so
      archaeologists hope to keep the mummy on site for now.

      Hassan Fazeli Nashli, director of Iran's Archaeology Research Center,
      explained that he and his colleagues still face "a lot of problems for
      preserving the other five ones" that have been unearthed over the past
      14 years.

      He added, "They are enough for conducting future archaeological studies."

      The latest discovery was not planned. Heavy rains revealed the
      mummified body that had been buried in nearly 8 inches of dirt within
      one corner of a trench in the mine.

      In addition to the six bodies, researchers have also recovered leather
      shoes, a leather bag, a terra cotta lamp and two steer horns from the
      mine. The horns probably once held oil the workers might have burnt to
      generate light.

      Johan Reinhard, a senior research fellow at The Mountain Institute in
      West Virginia, led a Peru expedition that recovered the "ice maiden,"
      a 15th century Inca mummy of a 12-14 year old girl whose body
      literally was frozen in time.
      Reinhard told Discovery News that salt, ice, water immersion and bogs
      all can produce natural mummies. In the case of bogs, the mixture of
      acidic water, cold temperature and a lack of oxygen within sphagnum
      may lead to the preservation. Bog bodies have been found at places in
      Northern Europe, Great Britain and Ireland.

      Freezing, however, surpasses all of the other processes, according to
      Reinhard.

      "Naturally frozen mummies are more valuable than the Hope diamond," he
      said. "They are rare and they never stop giving information."

      CAT scans, DNA analysis, blood work and more are possible, since the
      body is comparable to a cryogenically stored individual.

      "The person's DNA is near perfect, as though he or she had just died,"
      Reinhard said.

      Such information can reveal data about ancient diets, the individual's
      health before death, and what plants existed in the person's
      environment. Reinhard said a single swath of preserved frozen cloth
      yielded the remains of 17 plant species.

      For now, the recently discovered salt man remains in his mine tomb,
      while the ice maiden is still frozen in a temperature-controlled box
      at the Museum of the Universidad Católica de Santa María of Arequipa
      in Peru. Countless future generations, however, may benefit from these
      bodies that nature preserved.

      Reinhard predicts, "In 10, or perhaps 10,000, years from now,
      scientists will still be gathering information from them."
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