The remains of a legendary 50,000-strong army which was swallowed up in a cataclysmic sandstorm in the Sahara Desert 2,500 years ago are believed to have been found.
Italian archaeologists Angelo and Alfredo Castiglioni, twin brothers, have discovered bronze weapons and hundreds of human bones which they reckon are the remains of the lost army of Persian King Cambyses II.
According to the Greek historian Herodotus (484-425 BC), Cambyses, the son of Cyrus the Great, sent the soldiers from Thebes to attack the Oasis of Siwa in 525BC.
Their mission was to destroy the oracle at the Temple of Amun after the priests there refused to legitimise his claim to Egypt.
Oracles were places where divine advice or prophecy was sought and the ancient Egyptians held them to be manifestations of the gods that could see into the future. They were often consulted before big decisions.
Two centuries after the soldiers disappeared, Alexander the Great made his own pilgrimage there in 332BC before he began his conquest of Persia. His historians claimed that the oracle then confirmed he was the divine son of Zeus, the Greek god equated with Amun, and the legitimate pharaoh of Egypt.
This bronze dagger dating from King Cambyses’ time is one of the stunning finds made by the researchers
The Temple of Amun which Cambyses’ army had set out to destroy because priests there refused to legitimise his claim to Egypt