Monday, December 30, 2013

Salt Men

Discovered between 1993 and 2010, the six Salt Men mummies were found in the Chehr-Abad salt mines, located in Iran. Probably killed by collapses in the mines, these mummies did not all die at the same time. The bodies are from 247 BC-224 CE, one from 224-651 CE and another from 550-331 BC. 

Experts think that these Salt Men may be the origin of the ancient myth of the satyr. The Salt Men heads resemble that of the mythical half goat/half human from Greek mythology with similar hair and beards, snub noses, and protruding jaws. St. Jerome, patron saint of librarians in the Roman Catholic Church, said that Constantine the Great made a special trip from Constantinople to Antioch to view a "satyr" that had been extremely well-preserved in salt. Folklorists believe that it is very likely that these Salt Men were the basis for St. Jerome's account of the satyr. The Salt Men (Salt Man #1 particularly) resembles an elderly satyr commonly seen in Greek art, named Silenus. Silenus had the same long golden hair, beard, bulging forehead, snub nose and open mouth as Salt Man #1.

Not too much is known about these Salt Men. One had tapeworm, one had an earring...As far as I can tell, research is still examining soft tissues to better understand the health and nutrition status of the miners at their time of death and whether they travelled a long distance to collect the salt. No archaeological evidence of habitation has been found around the mine which suggests that the Salt Men's journey to the mine was occasional or seasonal.

Of the six bodies found, five are on display, while one remains buried in the salt mine because of lack of equipment necessary for its preservation. The bodies that are on display were not properly preserved at first due to insufficient funds. Their plexiglass cases were not properly sealed or environmentally controlled. Changes in the temperature created cracks in the case and allowed bacteria to enter which damaged the internal organs. The new specially designed cases are worth $25,000 each and have devices that can monitor internal conditions.

I don't like how Salt Man #1's head is displayed. This ruins cake.