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King Darius inscription is not authentic, IAA informs

The inscription was the only find in Israel related to Darius

The supposed Darius inscription. (Photo: Yoli Schwartz/Israel Antiquities Authority)

After breaking the dramatic news of an inscription with the name of Darius the Great last week, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Friday that the inscription was not authentic.

When the news was released, an expert who had participated in an excavation expedition last August, contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) to say she had been demonstrating to a group of students the manner in which sherds were inscribed in ancient times and had forgotten the sherd at the site accidentally. She said this was done unintentionally and without malice.

Prof. Gideon Avni, the IAA’s chief scientist said, “The IAA takes full responsibility for the unfortunate event.”

“The sherd was examined by Dr. Haggai Misgav, a leading researcher on ancient Aramaic script and Sa’ar Ganor, an archaeologist studying the site of Tell Lachish and its region,”  he said.

“As an institution that strives for the scientific truth, we are committed to correcting the mistake that was made and making it known to the public. In terms of ethical and scientific practices, we see this as a very severe occurrence,” Avni explained.

While he did not accuse the expert of fraud, Avni said it was careless to leave the sherd at an archeological site.

“Leaving the newly inscribed sherd on the site was careless, and led to the mistake done by the researchers and distorted the scientific truth,” said Avni. “Such cases in archaeological research are very few in number.”

The IAA also said that the incident demonstrates the dangers of finds with an unknown source.

“This once again proves that only finds discovered in controlled archaeological excavations should be considered 100% authentic. All other finds should raise questions regarding their authenticity,” the IAA said.

The agency also said that it will “refresh proper procedures and policies with all foreign expeditions working in the country.”

The IAA has been faced with several incidents of inscriptions of unknown source in the last few decades which have led to scholarly debates, including the famous “James ossuary” and a pomegranate engraved with the divine name.


The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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