April 30, 2018
On April 23, construction workers at a shrine in Shahr-e Ray, south of Tehran, discovered a mummified body that most likely belongs to Reza Shah (1878-1944), the founder of the Pahlavi dynasty. His tomb was destroyed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but his remains were never found.
“The body will not be placed in a museum if it proves to be that of Reza Shah Pahlavi. They will not be considered historical remains,” said Mohammad Reza Karegar, the director for museums at Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO). “Religious authorities must issue a fatwa [legal opinion] before the remains can be exhumed.”
“The ICHHTO cannot get involved in the matter if the mummified remains are from the contemporary history,” he added.
The authorities have yet to comment on the find. No other senior officials at the ICHHTO have released any statements about the possible fate of the mummified remains.
In an interview with the reformist Ebtekar online newspaper, Karegar said: “We must wait and see what the religious authorities say about exhuming the remains.”
There is no need to disinter the body, since construction workers have already excavated it from under broken concrete slabs and rubble — unless the rumors about a hasty reburial of Reza Shah’s body are true.
“There are precise religious guidelines regarding the exhumation, examination, and preservation of a body. The religious authorities might decide to rebury the remains,” Karegar explained.
His remarks suggest that the late Reza Shah’s remains are being kept somewhere for the time being.
“Senior officials do not have to get involved in this matter if the remains are proven to be that of Reza Shah Pahlavi. We need to put our heads together and come up with a solution. But ICHHTO will not be involved in the decision-making process,” Karegar noted. “This is an unusual situation. We have never before had to deal with mummified remains. So we don’t exactly know how to proceed.”
It is unclear which government agency will ultimately take ownership of the remains.
Karegar explained: “First we should decide whether to exhume the body or not. Then we have to think about how to examine the remains. We have to conduct research and try to find the relevant documents.”
Meanwhile, the head of the ICHHTO’s Protection Unit, Brigadier General Amir Rahmatollahi, said: “I only know what I’ve read in the papers, but I don’t believe the remains belong to Reza Shah Pahlavi.”