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Did Israel Discover a 2,500-Year-old Aramaic Inscription on Pottery?

Misbar's Editorial Team Misbar's Editorial Team
10th March 2023
Did Israel Discover a 2,500-Year-old Aramaic Inscription on Pottery?
The inscription does not date back to antiquity (Twitter)

Recently, the IAA, Israel Antiquities Authority claimed to have discovered a 2,500-year-old pottery piece with an Aramaic inscription near Ashkelon. According to reports in the Hebrew media, the inscription bore the name of Ahasuerus' father, creating a buzz in archaeological circles. However, the news was retracted by the Antiquities Authority, leading to widespread confusion and speculation.

A Professor of Ancient Aramaic Clarified the Confusion

As the story unfolded, a professor and expert in ancient Aramaic contacted the Antiquities Foundation, claiming to be the owner of the inscription that appears on the pottery in the Tel Lachish National Park. The researcher revealed that she had carved the inscription on the pottery herself as part of an excavation tour that she conducted with students last summer in the national park, and then left the pottery in the field.

The Pottery Inscription's Controversial Claim

Initially, the Israel Antiquities Authority researchers claimed that the pottery inscription dated back to the time of Darius I, king of the Persian Empire, and father of Ahasuerus. The institution later retracted its claim when the visiting professor and ancient Aramaic expert revealed that it was her inscription. The small pottery, measuring just four centimetres high and wide, was found last December before being transferred to the Antiquities Authority laboratories for examination.

The Pottery Examination Results

The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reported that the authorities examined the pottery inscription under a microscope in analytical laboratories. However, they later admitted that the inscription was not correct, despite the pottery being genuinely old. Professor Gideon Avni, chief archaeologist at the State Antiquities Authority, expressed his organization's commitment to scientific truth and acknowledged responsibility for the incident. "The pottery was studied by Dr. Hagai Meshgaf, a world-renowned expert on ancient Aramaic writing, and archaeologist Sa’ar Ganor, who studies Tell Lachish. But it turned out to be a pretty convincing inscription," he said.

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