The Lost Army of King Cambyses

2002, History  -  48 min Leave a Comment
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Six centuries before Christ, King Cambyses II, the emperor of the First Persian Empire, rallied his army of over 50,000 troops with the intent of overtaking the Egyptian temple of Amon. They never arrived, and are suspected of having fallen victim to the perils of the Egyptian desert. Yet, in the centuries since, no traces of their existence - or their brutal deaths - have been uncovered. It was as though they simply vanished into thin air. Did this event actually take place, or is it merely an example of a myth made more grandiose over time? The Lost Army of King Cambyses recounts this intriguing piece of history, and the expedition that may finally confirm its veracity.

For many years, countless archeologists, geologists and historians have attempted to uncover the mystery of the missing army. Most notably, desert explorer Laszlo Almasy - whose daring efforts formed the basis of the lead character in the Oscar winning film The English Patient - claimed to have discovered evidence of the army in the 1930s. Alas, the exact location of his supposed discoveries died with him.

Then in 1996, an explorer happened upon a series of bone fragments and ancient arrowheads in the desert by accident. He was later banned from returning to the site by Egyptian authorities, but a new team of explorers soon decided to pick up where he left off. The filmmakers follow this team as they make their journey through the barren wasteland in search of the most profound archeological find of all time.

Along the way, the team begins to question the probability that the Cambyses army could successfully make such a journey all those years ago. They estimate it would have taken over 3,000 tons of food, water and supplies to keep them nourished during their travels. Additional skepticisms focus on the route the army is reported to have taken given their unfamiliarity with the environment and lack of sophisticated maps.

Beyond the obvious suspense generated by what these modern-day explorers might at last uncover, The Lost Army of King Cambyses offers rich perspectives on ancient Egyptian history, and a tactile sense of what life in a desert oasis truly entails.