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King Cambyses’ Lost Army: 10 Mysteries Surrounding the Vanished Persian Army

What occurred to King Cambyses’ Army? What might have prompted 50,000 troopers to vanish with no hint?

In 524 BC, King Cambyses despatched a military of 50,000 troopers to enslave town of Ammonians (Modern day Siwa in Africa). However, they by no means reached their vacation spot. The total military of 50,000 troopers vanished into the desolate Egyptian desert.

There isn’t any express point out of this misplaced Persian military in any historic scriptures. Neither a single Persian or Egyptian historian nor Cambyses’ successor Darius described it within the “Behistun inscription.”

Nothing however just a few bronze weapons, some human bones, and a silver bracelet has been discovered within the wilderness of the Sahara Desert.

What might have gone unsuitable? What occurred to King Cambyses‘ Army?

Let’s check out a number of the prospects.


According to Herodotus, the well-known Greek historian, after seven days of wandering into the desert, the military was hit by a cataclysmic sand storm which fully engulfed the troops and buried them underneath the sand.

Two Italian archeologists additionally imagine that there’s robust proof {that a} sandstorm certainly struck the military.

While working within the desert, the researchers found a giant rock with some human stays, cutlery, and weapons buried round it, indicating that some troopers took refuge underneath this rock when the sandstorm hit.

However, most archeologists disagree {that a} sandstorm might disperse and kill 50,000 folks.

Drunken Rage?

What provoked the King to ship such many troopers to march via such a hostile territory?

It all began when the clergymen on the oracle of the Temple of Amun introduced that they didn’t really feel any sense of obedience in direction of their new King, Cambyses, son of Cyrus the Great.

Cambyses was livid and determined that he wouldn’t forgive them for his or her mutiny. So, he despatched troopers marching via the Sahara from Thebes to place these insubordinate clergymen of their place.

It is presumptively a fantasy, however some suppose he ordered the troops to assault town in a drunken rage. So, perhaps they weren’t nicely geared up to cross the deadliest desert on the planet.

Deviation from the Planned Route? 

The pink line within the map reveals the precise invasion route, whereas the blue line reveals the deviation from that route.

Some historians evaluate this example with the go to of Alexander the Great to the Oracle, which was virtually 200 years after this incident.

Even he took a route alongside the coast within the North after which turned South to succeed in Siwa. His course was far much less advanced via the desert. Historians agree that Alexander’s military might additionally get misplaced if it weren’t for some heavenly intrusion.

If Herodotus’ theories are true, it’s nonetheless a thriller why the Persians took a far more durable route than Alexander, and that too 200 years earlier than? Was it a deliberate try and lure the military?

How a lot Water was Carried?

It was a journey of fifty,000 troopers via the center of the most important desert on the planet. The most simple requirement of the military was meals and water.

If we suppose that the necessity for the water per individual was 3 liters per day (preserving in thoughts the extraordinary warmth inflicting sweating and dehydration), and the journey was, let’s say, 30 days lengthy, then 50 thousand troopers will want 4500 tons of water not less than. Still, it gained’t be sufficient since we’re not counting the animals.

The guess couldn’t be this easy, and it appears just like the misplaced Persian military was moved in direction of loss of life by their very own King.

Unfamiliarity with the Local Terrain

The Persian military consisted of people that belonged to totally different areas.

They had been primarily Medians, Greeks, Scythians, Parthians, Egyptians, and maybe some from the Indian area as nicely, which means that many of the troopers and their commanders had little expertise of the Egyptian desert and the horrible actuality of the Great Sand Sea (which is a daunting expanse of completely secluded desert in western Egypt).

Defeated by Petubastis III

Professor Olaf Kaper believes that the military didn’t disappear however was defeated. Furthermore, he believes that the ultimate vacation spot of the military was the Dakhla Oasis, the place the Egyptian insurgent chief Petubastis III resided.

He ambushed the military within the halfway, defeated them, took prisoners, and finally conquered Egypt. He was later topped as Pharaoh within the capital, Memphis.’


Cambyses is depicted as a mad King within the chronicles of Herodotus. He is accused of defiling and burning Pharaoh Amasis’s corpse and slaughtering a calf, Apis, which was worshipped as a God within the Egyptian Religion.

He can be accused of murdering his brother, Smerdis, which additional ignited the assumption in Persians that he had misplaced divine favor and was undeserving of preserving the crown.

Consequently, a revolt was pursued. There is a robust chance that the military was ambushed by the renegades (rebels) on their method and was defeated.

Some additionally speculate that these renegades had been backed by Darius, the successor of Cambyses, and he repressed their defeat and fabricated a narrative concerning the sandstorm.


Some speculate that there was a sense of distrust and betrayal among the many military once they set their foot within the deserts.

King Cambyses’ deteriorating popularity and the tough climate circumstances fueled resentment among the many troopers, and so they revolted. Bloodshed ensued, and people who survived fled to Dakhla oasis to affix Petubastis.

The Expedition Never Happened

You will get many theories in historical past however not a single obvious factual motive about this misplaced military and its expedition. 

There is a robust chance that they began their journey in a trouble as per order by their eccentric King however deserted the mission as soon as they realized that odds weren’t of their favor and so they couldn’t survive within the lethal desert.

Desert rheumatism or Desert dermatoses?

Valley fever or desert dermatoses are frequent amongst folks inhabiting the deserts or touring via deserts for prolonged durations.

There can be a fantasy that just a few days in scorching warmth might have uncovered troopers to coccidiosis’s organisms, making them sick, and since there have been already deep into the desert, assist was unreachable.

The Majority of troopers succumbed to loss of life, whereas others, demotivated and disgruntled, dispersed in direction of to mainland.

What occurred to King Cambyses’ military will maybe stay a thriller for occasions to return.

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Written by Arooj Imran

Arooj is a licensed medical pharmacist with 2 years of expertise writing content material about Mental and Physical Health, Nutrition, Weight loss, and Pharmaceutic. She additionally has a knack for researching, which has led her to develop a deep curiosity in matters surrounding science, historical past, and know-how.

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