Vanished 2,500 Year Old Persian Army Found In Desert?
Bones found in Egyptian desert may be remains of Cambyses’ army
“The 50,000 warriors were said to be buried by a cataclysmic sandstorm in 525 B.C. According to Herodotus, Cambyses sent the soldiers from Thebes to attack the Oasis of Siwa and destroy the oracle at the Temple of Amun after the priests there refused to legitimize his claim to Egypt. After walking for seven days in the desert, the army got to an “oasis,” which historians believe was El-Kharga. After they left, they were never seen again. “A wind arose from the south, strong and deadly, bringing with it vast columns of whirling sand, which entirely covered up the troops and caused them wholly to disappear,” wrote Herodotus. As no trace of the hapless warriors was ever found, scholars began to dismiss the story as a fanciful tale. Now, two top Italian archaeologists claim to have found striking evidence that the Persian army was indeed swallowed in a sandstorm. Twin brothers Angelo and Alfredo Castiglioni are already famous for their discovery 20 years ago of the ancient Egyptian “city of gold” Berenike Panchrysos. Presented recently at the archaeological film festival of Rovereto, the discovery is the result of 13 years of research and five expeditions to the desert. According to Castiglioni, from El Kargha the army took a westerly route: “Since the oasis on the other route were controlled by the Egyptians, the army would have had to fight at each oasis.” To test their hypothesis, the Castiglioni brothers did geological surveys along that alternative route. They found desiccated water sources and artificial wells made of hundreds of water pots buried in the sand. Such water sources could have made a march in the desert possible. At the end of their expedition, the team decided to investigate Bedouin stories about thousands of white bones that would have emerged decades ago during particular wind conditions in a nearby area. Indeed, they found a mass grave with hundreds of bleached bones and skulls. “We learned that the remains had been exposed by tomb robbers and that a beautiful sword which was found among the bones was sold to American tourists,” Castiglioni said. A number of Persian arrow heads and a horse bit, identical to one appearing in a depiction of an ancient Persian horse, also emerged.”
“The primary source for the tale of Cambyses and his lost army is the ancient Greek traveller and historian Herodotus, an intrepid man who travelled all over Egypt just 75 years after the Persian invasion. Herodotus followed in Cambyses’ footsteps and recorded the local tales and histories of the invader. Unfortunately his impartiality is questionable; his Histories slander Cambyses remorselessly, painting him as a despot, madman and general ne’er-do-well. According to Herodotus, an army of 50,000 men was ordered to ‘enslave the Ammonians and burn the oracle of Zeus’. Led by guides, the army set off into the desert, reaching ‘the city of Oasis’, known to the Greeks as ‘The Isles of the Blest’ (modern-day Kharga), seven days’ march to the west. After this, they were never seen again, although the Siwans themselves were somehow able to give a rough account of what happened next. If Herodotus is right, the Persian army met a bleak end. The Western Desert is one of the hardest places in the world to be looking for lost relics. It is vast, covering about two-thirds of modern-day Egypt: an area of 680,000 square kilometres (263,000 square miles), equal to the combined size of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland. The conditions are incredibly harsh and desolate. Much of the area is restricted owing in part to the millions of landmines from World War II. And there is always the likelihood that any finds that are stumbled across will soon be covered up by the shifting desert sands.”
Better Than Drawing Straws + Eating Each Other
“While these 50,000 Persian warriors disappeared in the desert, Cambyses didn’t fare much better. At the time, he was marching on a kingdom in Ethiopia, but provisions ran out beneath a scorching sun and his troops were forced to pick lots having divided into groups of 10. According to Herodotus, the unfortunate 1 of each 10 was killed and eaten by the other ravenous troops. Cambyses eventually withdrew, chastened by Egypt and its desert.”
“…The Persians controled Egypt for more than a century (from 525 to c.401) and there must have been dozens of occasions on which soldiers were sent to the west. All these expeditions may have found itself lost in the western desert…”