Vanished Persian Army Turns Up in Sand

Evidence of 50K doomed soldiers found in Egyptian desert
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2009 2:21 PM CST
Vanished Persian Army Turns Up in Sand
Workers at dawn excavate an ancient site.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – Italian archaeologists in Egypt claim to have unearthed evidence of a 6th-century BC Persian military folly once thought mythical. Herodotus described an army of 50,000 Persians sent by their emperor, Cambyses, to destroy an oracle that had spoken ill of his ambitions. The army was, according to lore, beset by a massive sandstorm and “utterly disappeared.” Not so, say Alfredo and Angelo Castiglioni. They've turned up fragments of pots, weaponry, jewelry, and hundreds of human bones.

“We are talking of small items,” Alfredo tells Time of their find in western Egypt, near the Libyan border. “But they are extremely important.” The brothers started their quest for evidence of the ancient army in 1996, when they discovered ancient Persian arrowheads and other artifacts. They are the first items “dating to Cambyses' time, which have emerged from the desert sands.” Explorers have searched for remnants of the army, to no avail, since the 19th century. (Read more ancient Egypt stories.)

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