The Lost Army of King Cambyses

by Alfredo and Angelo Castiglioni

In Book III of “The Histories” (between 490-480 BC), Herodotus of Halicarnassus tells of the Persian king Cambyses, who after having conquered Egypt in 525 BC, sent an army of 50,000 men to the Western Desert (Egypt) to destroy the oasis of Siwa, site of the oracle of the god, Zeus Ammon. Herodotus related “… the Persians sent to attack the Ammonians (the inhabitants of Siwa)… as they were at their midday meal, 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…”. In five research missions, using avant-garde technical equipment (satellite photos, geo radar, metal detectors, etc.) and with the help of a Bedouin who knew the desert extremely well, Angelo and Alfredo Castiglioni and their team have found the first Achaemenid remains (from the period of Cambyses) together with hundreds of human remains, perhaps recovered in a period subsequent to the tragedy and buried in a mass grave, where objects from the period of Cambyses were also discovered.

Length: 30’
Production year: 2009
Produced by: Alfredo and Angelo Castiglioni

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