Mummified body near ex-shah’s tomb mystifies Iran

Updated April 24, 2018

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TEHRAN: Tehran’s heritage committee said on Monday it has found a mummified body at the site of a former shah’s tomb, raising a storm of interest over whether the long-lost corpse has been rediscovered.

After the 1979 revolution, the newly installed Islamic authorities did their best to erase any memories of the Pahlavi monarchy they had overthrown.

This included destroying the enormous tomb in south Tehran of Reza Shah Pahlavi, the military strongman who seized control of the country in the 1920s and abdicated in favour of his son in 1941 under pressure from the British. Despite efforts to uncover his corpse, it was never found.

But on Monday, the head of Tehran council’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Committee told state news agency IRNA that a mummified body had been found at the site, during expansion work on an Islamic shrine.

Hassan Khalilabadi said it was “a possibility” the body belonged to Reza Shah Pahlavi.

“This will be examined by responsible bodies,” he said.

The press office of the Abdol Azim shrine which was being renovated said the claims were just a rumour.

“The area surrounding the shrine was previously a cemetery so discovering a body in this area is natural,” said its PR director Mostafa Ajoorloo, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.

The issue nonetheless triggered considerable interest on social media.

Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2018