An ancient relic has been found in full view of the public in a remarkable discovery, giving archaeologists and scientists a glimpse into the past. Photos of the relic have been shared widely, showing intricate and detailed designs, offering speculation to its origin and age.
Who found it? A hiker. It is a possible receipt inscribed on a pottery shard. It bears the name of the Persian king Darius the Great, two and a half millennia ago. The relic found in plain sight is of great importance.
“I picked up the ostracon [fragmento de cerámica usado como soporte de escritura en la antigüedad] and saw the inscription. My hands shook,” Eylon Levy said. He is the hiker who found it. It was on a hike in the Judean desert.
In full view of all
The ostracon has an inscription in Aramaic. It reads “Year 24 of Darius”, and dates to 498 BC. Darius I reigned between 522 and 486 B.C. It is the earliest written evidence of his reign. The site of the find is the ancient city of Lajish. It was a thriving city and an important administrative center two and a half millennia ago. The inscription is believed to be a receipt for goods received or sent.
The relic found in plain view by Levy was handed over to the authorities. They received it with some skepticism. Weeks later, they verified that it was authentic.
Levy found the ostracon in the remains of the Persian royal administration building at Tel Lajish. It was first excavated in 1930 and has hosted hundreds of archaeologists over the decades. Archaeologists believe the ostracon may have been an administrative note. Something like a receipt for goods or their shipment. The city was in the province of Edom. Deuteronomy 1:7 describes it as the province “beyond the river” of the ancient Persian Empire.
Lachish was a flourishing Canaanite city in the second millennium B.C. And it was the second most important city in the Kingdom of Judah after Jerusalem. It occupies a prominent place in the Old and New Testaments as the scene of important battles.
In A.D. 701, the Assyrian army built a huge ramp. They did so to capture the city and visitors can still climb it today. And with luck, perhaps find an archaeological treasure like the one hiker Levy found. He said: “I found it right there, on the ramp, under everyone’s noses”.