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The Darius inscription

Ancient Inscription with Name of King Darius Found in Israel

In December 2022, Eylon Levy, international media advisor to the President of the State of Israel Isaac Herzog, and his friend Yakov Ashkenazi, visited the Tel Lachish National Park and chanced on a small potsherd with some inscribed letters.

When they reported it to the Israel Antiquities Authority, the ostracon was examined in the advanced Analytical Laboratory, and studied by Saar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Dr. Haggai Misgav of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

To their astonishment, it turned out to be a rare find furnishing evidence for the Persian royal administration at Lachish in the Achaemenid period, at the turn of the fifth century BCE. The Aramaic inscription on the fired potsherd reads “Year 24 of Darius,” dating it to 498 BCE.

The short text thus records the name of the Persian king Darius the Great (Darius I), the father of Ahasuerus—also known as the biblical Achashverosh from the Book of Esther, which is read annually on the Jewish festival of Purim.

This is the first discovery of an inscription bearing Darius the Great's name anywhere in the Land of Israel. During his long reign (522–486 BCE), the Persian Achaemenid Empire expanded, reaching its greatest extent under his son Hishrash (Ahasuerus, Xerxes in Greek), who ruled most of the ancient world.

It appears that the inscribed ostracon, discovered in the area of the Persian building, may have been an administrative note, akin to a receipt for goods or for their dispatchment. (INN / VFI News)

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