Add to the strangeness the fact that there were traces of sulfur and bitumen all along the walls, and the implication is clear: one terrified Persian who died clawing frantically at his own body, 19 Romans who died fleeing from his direction, sulfurous emanations in the walls?
That's demon possession, man. Those are some classic, Supernatural-style demon shenanigans right there.
All right, so maybe there are other, slightly more plausible theories. A reinvestigation of the records of the original dig, conducted by archaeologist Simon James, indicates that the deaths were actually due to one of the earliest attempts at chemical warfare.
"Yeah, you probably wouldn't have heard about it. It's kind of new."
The story, as James has reconstructed it so far, goes like this:
"The Romans heard the Persians working beneath the ground and steered their tunnel to intercept their enemies. The Roman tunnel was shallower than the Persian one, so the Romans planned to break in on the Persians from above. But there was no element of surprise for either side: The Persians could also hear the Romans coming.
"So the Persians set a trap. Just as the Romans broke, through, James said, they lit a fire in their own tunnel. Perhaps they had a bellows to direct the smoke, or perhaps they relied on the natural chimney effect of the shaft between the two tunnels. Either way, they threw sulfur and bitumen on the flames. One of the Persian soldiers was overcome and died, a victim of his own side's weapon. The Romans met with the choking gas, which turned to sulfuric acid in their lungs."
Work on the Persian tunnel dig has been renewed in light of this intriguing development, including a reopening of the original site where 20 ancient warriors died in fear and agony. It looks like this:
Balls, archeologists. Pure balls. However much we pay you to taunt furious ghosts just so we can have fun stuff to look at in museums, you totally deserve a raise.
Since this is Savannah's first article for Cracked, you can check out her musings on music and other subjects on Tumblr. If you're suffering from any lingering effects from a mummy's curse, this band will cure what ails you. When he isn't exorcising ancient tombs while dressed in a low-cut vest and short shorts, Adam also writes for his own site, and you can read the rest of his Cracked articles here.
For more reasons why the past should frighten you, check out 6 Ancient Sports Too Awesome For the Modern World and 8 Terrifying Instruments Old-Time Doctors Used on Your Junk.
And stop by LinkSTORM to learn how to time travel so you can punch the past in its stupid throat.
And don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get sexy, sexy jokes sent straight to your news feed.
Do you have an idea in mind that would make a great article? Then sign up for our writers workshop! Do you possess expert skills in image creation and manipulation? Mediocre? Even rudimentary? Are you frightened by MS Paint and simply have a funny idea? You can create an infographic and you could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow!