Archaeologists in Israel left red-faced after it transpired that a unique 'ancient' inscription was carved last summer

The Darius inscription
The Darius inscription, which was announced as inauthentic on FridayShai Halevi/ Israel Antiquities Authority
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  • An inscription bearing the name of a Persian king is "not authentic," the Israel Antiquities Authority said.

  • In a demonstration, an expert in ancient inscriptions had etched the words into the shard last summer.

  • The Antiquities Authority said they take "full responsibility for the unfortunate event."

Antiquities authorities in Israel backpedaled on Friday after they announced a supposedly ancient inscription of the name of a Persian king was "not authentic."

It turned out an expert in ancient Aramaic inscriptions had etched the words into the shard last summer.

The finding of what was thought to be the first-ever discovery of an inscription with King Darius the Great's name received considerable publicity when it was announced on Wednesday. The supposed shard of pottery was found by a hiker last December in Tel Lachish National Park 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem.

The inscription on the shard of pottery reads, "Year 24 of Darius," according to a government press release on Wednesday. This would have dated the inscription to 498 BC — or 2,500 years ago.

Darius the Great was the father of King Ahasuerus — an important figure in the Jewish tradition linked to the story of Purim, which is celebrated next week.

But after news broke about the seemingly serendipitous finding, an expert came forward to explain that she herself had carved the words into the shard, according to the Associated Press.

The expert, who was not named by the Antiquities Authority, was giving a demonstration to students at an archeological site where a Canaanite city once stood and left the modified pottery behind last August.

"The Israel Antiquities Authority takes full responsibility for the unfortunate event," said Professor Gideon Avni, the authority's chief scientist, according to Israeli news outlet i24.

"In terms of ethical and scientific practices, we see this as a very severe occurrence," he said.

The authority said in a statement they believed the researcher had left the shard "unintentionally and without malice," but that it was also "careless," which led to a "rare mistake" that "distorted the scientific truth."

The piece of pottery was found to be ancient after being thoroughly examined in a laboratory, the Associated Press reported, which seemingly added to the confusion. The authority also said it would now review all of its procedures and policies.

Darius I ruled the ancient Persian Achaemenid Empire from 522 BC until his death in 486 BC.

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