Ancient ‘Salt Men’ Mummies Continue To Be Found In Iran And May Be The Inspiration Behind the Mythical Satyr

A sixth mummy was recovered this year and there may still be more remaining.

Ancient salt men mummies continue to be found in a salt mine in Iran.
Carl Court / Getty Images

A sixth mummy was recovered this year and there may still be more remaining.

Hidden deep inside Iran’s Chehrabad Salt Mine, workers attempting to retrieve salt accidentally stumbled upon the sixth member of the so-called “salt men,” a group of mummies who have been discovered inside this mine at various intervals over the past 15 years.

Copious amounts of rain flooding around the mine brought this most recent man to the attention of Iranians and this particular salt mummy is believed to have perished roughly 1,800 years ago after an earthquake in the region would have sent rocks tumbling onto him, according to National Geographic.

The salt mummies at one time were all workers who were making their way inside of this mine and at some point ended up dying inside of it, either by being crushed to death by rocks, as the newest find of the salt men was, or by some other tragic turn of events.

The Chehrabad Salt Mine mummies that have been found so far all lived in very different times with the earliest ones having existed during the Achaemenid period from 539 to 333 BC and the most modern ones from 240 to 640 AD.

Upon the discovery of these different salt men, archaeologists were incredibly amazed at just how well preserved they had been over time, with their clothes, beards and hair almost the same as they had been when they originally died. Some even were found to still have the remains inside of their stomachs from their last meal.

Some of the artifacts recovered alongside these salt men include a gold earring which would have adorned one of the workers and iron knives. Atlas Obscura report that there is another curious addition to the story of these mummies as related by Stanford University’s Adrienne Mayor.

Mayor believes that it is highly possible that these salt mummies in Iran may have led to the creation of the mythical creatures known as satyrs. She notes that “satyrs are mythic creatures,” but also observed that these salt men bore more than a “striking resemblance to ancient Greek and Roman depictions of satyrs.”

“I think it’s very likely that an ancient discovery of a similarly preserved salt man in northwestern Iran is the basis for St. Jerome’s account of the satyr preserved in salt and examined by the Emperor Constantine and numerous other curious visitors in Antioch.”

If you are interested in seeing these salt men from Iran’s Chehrabad Salt Mine up close, one can be found in Tehran’s National Museum of Iran and a further four are located at Zanjan Archaeology Museum.