TEHRAN, Sept. 27 (Mehr News Agency) -- The director of an archaeological team working at the Chehrabad Salt Mine in the Hamzehlu region near Zanjan said that a group of Oxford University archaeologists is interested in participating in the study on the salt men found at the mine.
"A group of Oxford University archaeologists has prepared a plan, asking to participate in the study, and the Center for Archaeological Research is investigating the plan," Abolfazl Aali told the Persian service of CHN on Wednesday
"The archaeologists will be invited to the project if their plan is approved by the center. The collaboration would be a good experience for both sides," he added.
Last year, pieces of clothing and DNA samples from three of the four ancient salt men were sent to Oxford University for carbon-14 dating.
"The Chehrabad Salt Mine is one of the world's unique ancient sites, but there are also similar sites in other countries where their archaeologists have had many experiences, which could be helpful for us," Aali said.
Four bodies of people dubbed "salt men" have been unearthed by mineworkers over the past ten years.
The second and third salt men were discovered in November 2004 and January 2005. Exploitation of the privately-owned mine was halted by the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO), and shortly afterwards, the Fourth Salt Man was unearthed in March 2005.
Studies on the Fourth Salt Man indicate that the body is 2000 years old and he was 15 or 16 years old at the time of death.
It is still not clear when the other salt men lived, but archaeologists estimate that the First Salt Man lived about 1700 years ago and died sometime between the ages of 35 and 40. He is currently on display in a glass case at the National Museum of Iran in Tehran.
The legal status and ownership of the mine are in dispute, and the owner has sued for damages. The CHTO is attempting to buy the mine so that it can legally excavate the site.
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