Finchley man finds evidence of Persian emperor while walking in Israel

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Finchley man finds evidence of Persian emperor while walking in Israel

Eylon Levy, advisor to President Herzog, was passing through an ancient archaeological site when he found the slice of history

The ceramic shard found at Tel Lachish in December 2022 that bears the name of Persian king Darius the Great
The ceramic shard found at Tel Lachish in December 2022 that bears the name of Persian king Darius the Great

When two friends went for a walk through an Israeli national park and archaeological site in December last year, the broken piece of ceramic they found stood out as being of immediate interest.

The shard they found in Tel Lachish, an area of ruins with a rich biblical history, bore an Aramaic inscription. In what was once an ancient Canaanite and Israelite city, the pair suspected that they had stumbled across a real piece of history.

They sent it off to an advanced analytical lab to be studied by experts from the Israel Antiquities Authority, who soon reported back that what they had found was evidence for the Persian royal administration at Lachish in the Archaemenid period around 2,500 years ago.

The inscription reads ‘Year 24 of Darius’, in reference to Persian king Darius the Great, father of Ahasuerus – also known as the biblical Achashverosh from the Book of Esther, which is read annually on the Jewish festival of Purim.

“When I picked it up and saw the inscription my hands shook,” said Eylon Levy, who discovered the shard with his friend Yakov Ashkenazi. “I looked left and right for the cameras. I was sure someone was playing a prank on me!”

Levy, who grew up in Finchley, north London, now lives in Israel and works as an international media advisor to President Isaac Herzog, but never thought we would be in the news himself as someone who had just found evidence of a Persian emperor.

Experts believe that the inscription may have been an administrative note, not unlike a receipt for goods, with the fortified city of Lachish having been a regional centre for tax collection for the Persian king’s treasuries.

The British Archaeological Expedition carried out excavations at Tel Lachish in the 1930s and uncovered an elaborate administrative building from the Persian period, built on top of the podium of the destroyed palace-fort of the Judean kings.

The Persian-era residence extended over a large area and comprised elaborate halls and courtyards with a majestic columned portico entrance in Persian style.

Today, only the pillar bases remain in place on the mound as the British expedition dismantled the remains of the elaborate Persian building in order to excavate the underlying Judean palace.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: