In time for Purim: Inscription bearing name of King Ahasuerus’s father found in Israel

Persian King Darius the Great’s name was found on a 2,500-year-old potsherd in Tel Lachish.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

In an archaeological first, the name of King Darius the Great, father of King Ahasuerus of Purim holiday fame, has been discovered in Israel, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Wednesday.

International Media adviser to President Isaac Herzog, Eylon Levy, was visiting the Tel Lachish National Park with a friend in December when they chanced upon a small inscribed potsherd adorned by a brief phrase.

They immediately reported it to the IAA, although they could not believe at first that they had made such an important discovery.

“When I picked up the ostracon and saw the inscription, my hands shook,” Levy said. “I looked left and right for the cameras, because I was sure someone was playing an elaborate prank on me.”

He was simply“walking around” and “turning over pieces of pottery and stones in my hand,” he said, when “suddenly, I found something that had letters on it, and I thought this was too good to be true.”

Two experts, Dr. Haggai Misgav of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the IAA’s own Saar Ganor, determined with some help from the Authority’s analytical laboratory scanners that the words were in Aramaic and said “Year 24 of Darius.”

Historically speaking, this would mean that the original container was made in 498 BCE, over 2,500 years ago. This was in the midst of the period in which Israel existed as part of the Idumean (Edomite) province of the Persian Empire.

Lachish was then a major, fortified city, responsible for the all-important collection of local taxes for the king. The ostracon was found in the area of an elaborate administrative building from the Persian period that had been uncovered in a 1930s excavation by the British Archaeological Expedition.

The IAA announcement theorized that the potsherd “may have been an administrative note, akin to a receipt for goods or for their dispatchment.”

The IAA emphasized the importance of having finally found physical documentation in Israel of the existence of King Darius, who is called “the Great” for having expanded his empire’s boundaries tremendously during his 36-year reign.

His son, King Ahasuerus (Xerxes in Greek), is even more famous among Jews than his father, however, as he was the monarch who plotted with the evil Haman to murder all the Jews in his 127-country realm before the courageous Queen Esther overturned the plan and saved her people.

The holiday commemorating the miraculous turn of events, Purim, will be celebrated next week. IAA director Eli Escuzido summed up the find by saying that Ahasuerus “could never have imagined that we would find evidence of his father in Israel 2,500 years after the dramatic events in his royal court.”

The post In time for Purim: Inscription bearing name of King Ahasuerus’s father found in Israel appeared first on World Israel News.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *