An allegedly ancient artifact inscribed with the name of Persian King Darius the Great found in Tel Lachish National Park earlier this week has been revealed to have been fake, the Israel Antiquities Authority admitted on Friday afternoon.
The fragment of pottery, which was reported to have been 2,500 years old, has been revealed to be a forged piece of work, placed in the national park last summer by a professor of archaeology.
According to the IAA, the piece of pottery was left behind by the foreign researcher who was conducting an exvacation in Tel Lachish last August. During her time there, she demonstrated the ancient Aramaic language to a group of students by writing "Year 24 of Darius" in the original script.
However, she then accidentally left the fragment behind, where it was discovered by unsuspecting hiker Eylon Levy earlier this week.
"The Antiquities Authority takes responsibility for the incident," IAA chief scientist Prof. Gideon Avni said in a statement on Friday afternoon.
"The pottery was studied by Dr. Hagai Meshgav, a world-renowned expert on ancient Aramaic script, and by the archaeologist Sa'ar Ganor, who studies Tel Lakish, but it turns out that we came across an 'inscription in disguise.'"
He continued, saying that "from an ethical-scientific point of view, the incident is very serious. Leaving the engraved address on the site was negligent, and this led to misleading the researchers and disrupting the scientific truth.
"You can count on one hand incidents of this type that happened in archaeological research," he added.
In light of the event, the IAA has stated that it will reexamine its procedures regarding foreign excavation delegations operating in Israel.