A small pottery shard that was believed to be a rare 2,500-old find inscribed with the name of the Persian king Darius the Great turned out to be nothing more than a school study aid.
The discovery – made by a hiker passing through the Tel Lachish National Park in Israel – was officially declared a fake by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).
The Authority said in a statement obtained by Newsflash that the shard had been created by an expert demonstrating inscription techniques to her students.
Professor Gideon Avni – the IAA’s chief scientist – apologised on behalf of the scientific institution and took responsibility for the misinformation.
This came after numerous local media reports described it as the first-ever discovery of an inscription bearing the name of the ancient ruler anywhere in Israel.
The researcher who accidentally left the shard on site said it was done unintentionally and without malice.
The find bearing an inscription reading: “Year 24 of Darius” – made by Eylon Levy in December – was initially dated back to 498 BC, when Persia ruled what is now modern-day Israel.
The park where the pottery was discovered sits on the site of an ancient city called Lachish.
It used to be a major fortified city that was responsible for collecting taxes for the Persian king’s treasuries.
As a result of this unfortunate occurrence, the IAA vowed to refresh proper procedures and policies with all foreign expeditions working in the country.