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Zanjan's Saltmen to Undergo Surgery

By Soudabeh Sadigh
Interviews by: Hasssan Zohouri
The three-day international seminar on saltmen which was held in Zanjan with attendance of domestic and foreign archeologists provided experts the opportunity to discuss the outcomes of their researches on saltmen.
Tehran, 27 October 2007 (CHN) – In an attempt to find more about the life of the saltmen in 2500 years ago, in continuing their archeology and interfield studies on these discovered saltmen, Iran’s Archeology Research Center is intended to perform surgery on soft tissues of these saltmen.
Announcing this news in an exclusive interview with CHN correspondent after the closing ceremony of the second international seminar on saltmen, Hassan Fazeli Nashli, head of Iran’s Archeology Research Center, said: “The saltmen will undergo surgery inside the country and unlike the previous times, this time the samples will not be sent to other countries. If we face with lack of specialist in some fields inside the country, then we will invite foreign specialists to Iran to cooperate with Iranian experts in this project.”
Iranian experts are determined to perform the operation on the inside tissues of the mummies in order to find more details about the life of saltmen who lived more than 2000 years ago. Also, in order to complete interfield studies, the saltmen will once again undergo CT scan studies.
Regarding the achievements of the second seminar on saltmen, head of Archeology Research Center explained: “In order to determine the exact dated of these saltmen, a series of paleo-pathological studies have been done on their bones since last year, results of which were announced in this seminar.”
He further said that several scattered researches were conducted on saltmen during the past 14 years. “Gathering all of these information, we are going to decide whether further studies are required or not. However, one of our main aims is to publish the achievements of all these researches in a near future,” said Fazeli Nashli.
Expressing his satisfaction with holding this international seminar and the trend of researches on Chehrabad saltmen, Fazeli Nashli announced the publication of 4 other books in this regard within the next 2 months. “Despite all financial problems, 15 volumes will be published this year by Archeology Research Center. I personally give promise to archeologists and researches and have even told them if they deliver the results of their researches and the Archeology Research Center fail to publish them, they would have the right to make a complaint against me.”    
According to head of Iran’s Archeology Research Center, the seminar on saltmen which was held in Zanjan was a fruitful seminar in an international level which provided archeologists and researches the opportunity to learn more about the achievements on these saltmen and to confer the results of their studies with each other.
Addressing in the second international seminar on saltmen, Fazeli Nashli gave much emphasis on the importance of interfield sciences in archeological studies in Iran. “This issue shows that we are aware of the importance of interfiled researches in archeology. In today’s researches, conducting just archeological studies is not enough and they should be accompanied with other interfiled studies as well. This way we can find more about the life of different ethnic groups during ancient times,” said Fazeli Nashli.
The three-day international seminar of saltmen wrapped up on 26th of October in Zanjan and today, the participants in the seminar will visit Chehrabad salt mine, the victim place of the discovered salt men.
Introducing the best approaches for preserving Zanjan’s salt men and the staple diet of salt men were the other achievements of this international conference. Based on the disputes, bringing the humidity and the amount of oxygen around the mummified salt men under control would be the best executive approach for preserving the salt men.
During their scientific researches on remains of salt men in Universities of Oxford and York in Britain, archeologists have succeed to reveal parts of the staple diet of these mummies during ancient times. Based on their findings on the remains of salt men, scientists of British universities have concluded that most probably the number 4 salt man must have migrated from Mazandaran region to Zanjan during ancient time to work in Chehrabad salt mine. Considering that despite the other mummies discovered in other places, no traces of parasite have been found in Zanjan’s saltmen, scientists have further concluded that they must have enjoyed a suitable health condition.
The first discovery of salt men and their belongings in Chehrabad mine of Zanjan province dates back to some ten years ago. They are among rare mummies discovered around the world that are mummified as a result of natural conditions. Natural mummies are categorized into three groups which include then ones mummified by ice, like the Italian iceman, those by salt, and those mummified in swamps. Six salt men have been discovered so far in Chehrabad salt mine, samples of which were sent to Oxford and Cambridge universities to implement genetics studies and DNA analysis. The results showed that the first two salt men dates back to the Parthian era (150 BC-226 AD) while the other two are believes to have belonged to the Achaemenid period (550-330 BC).     
The International Seminar on Saltmen was attended by experts and archeologists from Iran, Germany, Britain, and Switzerland. Providing the suitable condition for preserving these unique saltmen was the top agenda of this seminar.

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