Shirali Baba Muslimov (also Mislimov) (Azerbaijani: Şirəli Müslümov, Ширəли Mүcлүмов, شیرعلی مسلموف, pronounced [ʃiɾæˈli mysˈlymov]) (allegedly 26 March 1805 – 2 September 1973) was a Talysh shepherd from the village of Barzavu in the Lerik region of Azerbaijan, a mountainous area near the Iranian border. He was claiming to be the oldest person who ever lived when he died on September 2 (or 4), 1973 at the alleged age of 168. This is 46 years older than French woman Jeanne Calment, who has had the longest confirmed lifespan in history at 122.
According to myth, Muslimov worked hard every day, up to 165 years, did not smoke or drink, but ate fruits, vegetables, wholemeal bread, chicken broth, low-fat cheese and yogurt. He had several wives through his lifetime. Muslimov became ill with pneumonia between 1972 and 1973, but survived only to die later in 1973.
Muslimov's story was picked up in 1973 by National Geographic Magazine, which told that on the occasion he still rode horseback and tended an orchard planted in the 1870s. National Geographic later recanted on the claim. The same story was told by the Guinness Book, stated as unconfirmed along other similar claims.
His marital status was also controversial. National Geographic told he had a wife 120 years old, whom he had married 102 years earlier. However on his obituary, published by Time magazine, it is said he was survived by his 107-year-old third wife. According to another claim, at the purported age of 136 he married and had a daughter. The only evidence in favor of Muslimov's age claim is an official passport that listed his birthdate. Muslimov had no known birth certificate.
The case of Muslimov became known in 1963, when a young photojournalist of TASS, Kalman Kaspiev, went to Barzavu to interview the centenarian. The story was picked up by the Soviet press, by the National Geographic, and by the Danone company, which for promotional reasons suggested that the longevity of Muslimov was linked to a diet of dairy, and yogurt in particular. This interest changed the life of the small Azeri village, which was connected to the electricity grid and started receiving radio and television broadcasts.
In the 1970s many Westerners were made aware of these extreme claims of longevity in Azerbaijan and elsewhere in the Caucasus region when a U.S. Danone yogurt commercial invoked some of these people to suggest that the secret of their long lives lay in the frequent consumption of yogurt.
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