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Jun 25, 2014 04:53 AM EDT

Mystery behind Disappearance of Persian Army Solved

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Leiden University researchers have put an end to an ancient archaeological mystery surrounding the sudden disappearance of the Persian Army in the Egyptian desert around 524 BC.

Researchers said that around 50,000 Persian soldiers were not engulfed by a catastrophic sandstorm. The troop was, in fact, crushed by a rebel army.

Egyptologist Olaf Kaper said that in an attempt to conceal the humiliating defeat, ancient Greek historians and subsequent rulers endorsed the theory of a giant sandstorm swallowing the army.

The Greek historian Herodotus narrated the story of the Persian King Cambyses who entered the Egyptian desert near Luxor with 50,000 soldiers and never returned.

"However, experience has long shown that you cannot die from a sand storm, let alone have an entire army disappear," Olaf Kaper said in a statement.

Kaper said that the army was marching toward the Dachla Oasis in the desert, where the Egyptian rebel leader Petubastis III was waiting with his troops.

"He ultimately ambushed the army of Cambyses, 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," said Kaper.

Kaper said that the fate of the army was discovered following an excavation in Amheida, in the Dachla Oasis. The team uncovered an ancient temple block that featured the entire list of titles of Petubastis III.

"The temple blocks indicate that this must have been a stronghold at the start of the Persian period. Once we combined this with the limited information we had about Petubastis III, the excavation site and the story of Herodotus, we were able to reconstruct what happened," Kaper said.

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