The Persian Army Of Cambyses II Was Said To Be Swallowed Up In A Massive Sandstorm. Probably Didn’t Happen That Way.

by Daniel Russ on August 5, 2014

 

image_2002-Cambyses-II-Army

Cambyses II led  Persian warriors, like these depicted in this  frieze in Darius’ palace in Susa. Pergamon Museum / Vorderasiatisches Museum, Germany. Image credit: Mohammed Shamma / CC BY 2.0.

The one irrefutable truth about history is that it repeats itself. And although this is a truth, the bad news is that what all too often repeats itself are the lies. A good number of in this country were amazed by the claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. In fact as a country we acted on these claims which were contrivances, cooked up to allow US and British oil companies to purloin Iraq’s oil resources, and threaten Iran with western armies on both borders. “News” channels prated on and on about the existential threat to us; experts reminded us how the Iraqis wanted a democracy. We have heard all this before.

From time to time in history a leader becomes a prevaricator. I mean after all the history of you will certainly outlive you and who doesn’t want a great history?

The Greek historian Herodotus, Cambyses II, the heir apparent of Cyrus the Great, was looking for honor and glory and a way to eliminate political rivals. His rule was threatened by the Oracle at Amun. His army defeated Psalmik II the pharaoh of Egypt in 525 BC. As he pushed to expand the Persian Empire beyond the Nile River valley, he decided to lay siege to the Oracle at Amun. Today this place is called Siwa and it may have extended as far as modern day Lybia.

The Egyptian desert is an unforgiving enemy to warriors skirting across the terrain. When Cambyses II sent 50,000 warriors across the western desert to destroy the Oracle at Amun, and the story goes, a massive sandstorm swallowed the entire army.

So the story goes.

It seems hardly probable that a single sandstorm could literally destroy a well armed, well trained army. That said archeologists have been searching for evidence of a large army in one place, fully equipped and buried.

From the University of Leiden, in the Netherlands, Prof Kaper believes that the lost army of Cambyses II was defeated in a battle that has not been reported previously. As reported in Archeology News a Network, he believes that the Persian force was headed to the Dakhla Oasis, the location of the troops of the Egyptian rebel leader Petubastis III. A political rival, “He ultimately ambushed the army of Cambyses II, and in this way managed from his base in the oasis to reconquer a large part of Egypt, after which he let himself be crowned Pharaoh in the capital, Memphis.”

“Darius I attributed the shameful defeat of his predecessor to natural elements. Thanks to this effective manipulation, 75 years after the event all Herodotus could do was take note of the sandstorm story.”

 

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Cambyses II At Pelusium

 

Sources: Archeology News Network, wikipedia.

 

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