An important and rare inscription, bearing the name of the Persian King Darius I, the father of Ahasuerus known from the book of Esther, was discovered by travelers in Tel Lachish National Park, just ahead of the Jewish holiday known as Purim when the book of Esther is read, and the people celebrate being saved from certain destruction at the hands of a Persian nobleman.
A study on the inscription, which was researched by Sa'ar Ganor from the Israel Antiquities Authority and Dr. Hagai Meshgav from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was released in the journal "Atiqot", published by the Israeli Antiquities Authority.
2/2 This incredible find is dated from 498 BC, 30 years before Socrates was born and 70 years before the birth of Plato.— Israel ישראל (@Israel) March 1, 2023
Serendipitous timing given the important role of Darius' son Achashverosh in the story of Purim, celebrated next week.
📸Shai Halevy, @AntiquitiesIL pic.twitter.com/nRFBe367CZ
The ones who found the rare address are Ilon Levy, president Herzog’s international communications advisor, and his friend Yaakov Ashkenazi. During a trip to the place last December, a small piece of pottery, with an engraving on it, caught their attention. After the pottery was handed over for testing, the inscription was transferred to the Antiquities Authority laboratories for preservation and advanced documentation. So, it turned out that this is a rare discovery, which indicates the activity of a state administration in Lachish during the Persian period.
Some exciting personal news: visiting Tel Lachish, I stumbled upon an ostracon with the Aramaic inscription "year 24 of Darius"—498 BCE! It's the only written record of Darius the Great—the father of the biblical Achashverosh—found anywhere in the Land of Israel! pic.twitter.com/p3TZnE7SnU— Eylon Levy (@EylonALevy) March 1, 2023
The Antiquities Authority said that it is an inscription written in Aramaic and engraved on pottery from about 2,500 years ago, and it reads "24th year of Darius". The inscription mentions the name of the Persian king Darius I, the father of Ahasuerus, known from the book of Esther, which is read every Purim holiday. The Antiquities Authority added that this is the first time in Israel that an inscription has been found bearing the name of King Darius I.
According to the researchers, Sa'ar Ganor from the Antiquities Authority and Dr. Hagai Meshgav from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, "In the excavations of the British expedition at Tel Lachish about 90 years ago, a magnificent Persian administrative building was uncovered, built on top of the ruins of the palace of the kings of Judah. In the building, which spanned 1,800 square meters, magnificent courtyards, and halls were revealed, at the entrances of which unique column bases were placed, the likes of which were only found so far in magnificent buildings in Iran.” According to them, 15 years after the inscription was written, the great feast described in the Book of Esther, which is read on Purim, was held.
Here's how I discovered the Darius Ostracon, and here's what it looks like after the Israel Antiquities Authority cleaned it up. pic.twitter.com/v4YvTkX7Dx— Eylon Levy (@EylonALevy) March 1, 2023
The British delegation dismantled the remains of the magnificent building in order to excavate the palace of the kings of Judah, and except for the bases of the columns, no remains of this building remain in the Tel Lachish National Park. Now, randomly, the address related to the Persian empire was found on the grounds of the dismantled magnificent building.