The Lost Army of Cambyses

By Mike Devlin on Thursday, October 24, 2013
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“But over all things brooding slept / The quiet sense of something lost.” —Alfred Tennyson, In Memoriam A.H.H.

In A Nutshell

According to the ancient historian Herodotus, the Persian king Cambyses II sent an army of 50,000 men across the Egyptian desert to attack the Oracle of Amun, a temple in Siwa. During their journey, the legion was overtaken by a sandstorm, and none of them were ever seen again. More than 2,500 years later, archaeologists may have finally stumbled across the remains of the lost army.

The Whole Bushel

The ancient Persians quite occupied with the notion of conquering the entire world. King Cyrus the Great, who began the Achaemenid Empire over 2,500 years ago, reigned over much of the Middle East. It was only natural that his son and successor, Cambyses II, should follow in his father’s footsteps and attempt to expand his territories. To that end, he waged war on Egypt and the Kingdom of Kush, which is located in present-day Sudan.

According to Herodotus, Cambyses sent an army of 50,000 men to take the temple of the Oracle of Amun in Siwa, because the priests there refused to accept his claim to rule Egypt. While crossing the unforgiving Sahara Desert, a huge sandstorm is said to have buried the entire army. None of the men were seen or heard from again.

Some historians claim that the lost army was a myth, but there have been many expeditions over the last century combing through Egypt’s Western Desert for a trace of the men. While some trinkets and human remains were found, nothing indicated that the army had been found until 2009, when two Italian archaeologists, brothers Angelo and Alfredo Castiglioni, claimed to have found the army near Siwa, uncovering bones, clothing, and weapons that would have dated to the time Cambyses’ army would have passed through. Hundreds of skulls were found buried in the sand.

However, the Castiglioni’s discovery has been taken with a grain of salt by historical scholars, as they have had in the past a penchant for making “shockumentary” type films replete with sex and gore. The ultimate fate of the lost army of Cambyses, if they existed at all, may never be known.

Show Me The Proof

Discovery: Cambyses’ Lost Army: Found at Last?
Vanished Persian Army Said New