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Mining banned at salt men's necropolis

TEHRAN, Nov. 9 (Mehr News Agency) -- The Ministry of Industries and Mines has cancelled the mining license at the Chehrabad Salt Mine, where all six of the ancient "salt men" were discovered.

The decision to cancel the license was announced through a letter sent by the ministry to the Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO), the Persian service of CHN reported on Saturday.

One of the saltmen of Zanjan

The ministry has asked the CHTHO to measure the sites. It has also demanded that CHTHO identify the important sites of the mine on a map and inform the ministry about them.

The Chehrabad Salt Mine is located in the Hamzehlu region near Zanjan, in northern Iran. Some of the salt men, otherwise known as Iranian mummies, have been damaged over the past 14 years as a large area of the privately-owned salt mine has been bulldozed.

"The Chehrabad Salt Mine has been one of the most important legal cases that now seems to have been settled by this decision," Zanjan Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department director Farhang Farrokhi said.

"The cancellation of the mining license provides an opportunity to convert the site into an archaeological research center," he added.

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.

Four of the salt men are kept at the Rakhtshuikhaneh Museum in Zanjan and the Sixth Salt Man was left in-situ due to the dearth of equipment necessary for its preservation.

... Payvand News - 11/09/08 ... --

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