The remains of a mighty Persian army said to have drowned in the sands of the western Egyptian desert 2,500 years ago might have been finally located, solving one of archaeology’s biggest outstanding mysteries, according to Italian researchers.
Bronze weapons, a silver bracelet, an earring and hundreds of human bones found in the vast desolate wilderness of the Sahara desert have raised hopes of finally finding the lost army of Persian King Cambyses II. The 50,000 warriors were said to be buried by a cataclysmic sandstorm in 525 B.C.
According to Herodotus (484-425 B.C.), Cambyses, the son of Cyrus the Great, sent 50,000 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.
The tale of Cambyses’ lost army, however, faded into antiquity. 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” known as Berenike Panchrysos.
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.
Among the bones, a number of Persian arrow heads and a horse bit, identical to one appearing in a depiction of an ancient Persian horse, emerged.
Wow, gives me chills.
Looking for a nice illustration for this post, I found this picture and story about Cambyses II. Mantiq al-Tayr, I hope you don’t love this story so much that you die and go to heaven.
Cambyses captured Pelusium by using a clever strategy. The Egyptians regarded certain animals, especially cats, as being sacred, and would not injure them on any account. Cambyses had his men carry the `sacred’ animals in front of them to the attack. The Egyptians did not dare to shoot their arrows for fear of wounding the animals, and so Pelusium was stormed successfully. After the taking of the city Cambyses seized the opportunity to show his contempt of the Egyptians. He himself carried a cage of cats in front of him upon his horse, and hurled them with insulting taunts and laughter, in to the faces of his foes.
Yup, what looks like cats flying around in that picture is indeed cats flying around.