The Chehr Abad “Salt men” and the isotopic ecology of humans in ancient Iran
Article first published online: 27 MAY 2010
Copyright © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Volume 143, Issue 3, pages 343–354, November 2010
How to Cite
Ramaroli, V., Hamilton, J., Ditchfield, P., Fazeli, H., Aali, A., Coningham, R.A.E. and Pollard, A.M. (2010), The Chehr Abad “Salt men” and the isotopic ecology of humans in ancient Iran. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol., 143: 343–354. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.21314
- Issue published online: 27 MAY 2010
- Article first published online: 27 MAY 2010
- Manuscript Accepted: 4 MAR 2010
- Manuscript Received: 23 NOV 2009
- British Institute of Persian Studies
- Chehr Abad;
- salt mine;
We have carried out isotopic analysis (δ13C and δ15N) on five salt-preserved bodies from the salt mine at Chehr Abad, Iran, dating from the 4th C. BC through to the 4th C. AD. In an attempt to identify the geographical origins of these people, we have analyzed over a hundred archeological bone samples from various archeological sites in Iran. From the faunal remains, we observe that the entire ecosystem appears to be enriched in 15N, which we suggest is due to the semi-arid nature of the region. We have also observed a number of cattle remains from one site (Nargas Tepe) which have a significant C4 component to their diet from the 4th millennium BC. By combining our data with those published by [Bocherens et al.: Environ Archaeol 5 (2000) 1–19; Bocherens et al.: J Arch Sci 33 (2006) 253–264], we suggest that two of the “mummies” may have come from the Tehran/Qazvin Plain region (i.e., relatively local to the salt mine), and a further two appear on isotopic grounds to have come from the northeast of Iran or the Turkmenistan steppes. The fifth (no. 4), the best preserved, appears to have come from further afield. Collectively, these mummies and their contexts augment our knowledge of social mobility and technical innovation in Iran during the Achaemenid period. Am J Phys Anthropol 143:343-354, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.