A hiker exploring at Tel Lachish National Park discovered a 2,500-year-old potsherd inscribed with the name of the Persian king Darius I. The Aramaic inscription read, “Year 24 of Darius,” which dated it to 498 BC, when Judah was under Persian control in the region known as “Beyond the River” (Ezra 4:20). The artifact was initially authenticated by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and announced with great fanfare. However, a couple days later, the officials with the IAA walked back the claim and declared that the artifact was not authentic. After the initial news reports, an Aramaic expert who had participated in excavations at Lachish in August 2022 contacted the IAA to inform them that she had made the inscription on a potsherd to demonstrate to her students how this was done in the past. Unfortunately, she had accidentally left it at the site, where it was found by the hiker. The IAA regrets the mistake and will be instituting new policies and procedures for archaeological excavations in Israel to avoid this type of situation in the future.
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