Salt men


Iran is largely a highland country. Tabriz lies at an altitude of 1400 to 1600 meters above sea level. During the last few warmer fall days, we drive via Meyaneh to Zandjan. There is a museum in Zandjan that interests us. Mummies of “salt men” are said to be on display here. Macabre perhaps? but we are interested.

Salt men

The archaeological museum in Zandjan is housed in an old villa. First, the tour leads past excavations of bowls and other containers. Due to its long history and former empires, Iran is a veritable archaeological treasure trove.

The original salt mummies are kept in an air-conditioned room.

The Chehrabad salt mine is located about 70 km from Zandjan. There is still an active salt dome here. The rock salt trains are embedded in an unstable mixture of clay and gypsum, which is why there were repeated collapses in ancient times that buried miners. In 1993, the first mummy was discovered by chance during excavation work, together with some tools and textiles. In 2004, the remains of seven other miners were found. Commercial rock salt mining was discontinued in 2008 in favor of archaeological research.

The “salt men mummies” are 2000 to 2500 years old. Preservation in salt has shrunk them, so they are no longer quite as big as they were in life.
In the mummy below, I’ve made it visible that he bit off his tongue in shock when he collapsed. What a terrifying moment.

This 16-year-old miner holds his arms protectively in front of his face during the collapse and locks himself against the tunnel shaft with his legs

No diesel for us

On the way to Soltanyie we try to fill up with diesel. We drive to two filling stations, but without success. In return, we are rewarded with beautiful old treasures.

The cathedral of Soltaniyeh

is a testimony to Persian architecture. It was built in the early 14th century by the Ilkhanid ruler Oljeitu as a mausoleum for his father Ilkhan Oljeitu . The Ilkhanid Empire at times encompassed the whole of Persia and Mesopotamia.

The dome of the cathedral is 50 meters high. Inside, the scaffolding suggests that the cathedral is currently being renovated. But these scaffolds have been in the same place for many years. Apparently, the entrance fees are still not enough to renovate the UNESCO cultural heritage.

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