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Last Updated: Friday, 24 December, 2004, 14:03 GMT
Ivory pomegranate 'not Solomon's'
The ivory pomegranate
Experts now say the pomegranate's inscription was added later
An ancient ivory pomegranate thought to be the only relic of King Solomon's Temple is from a different period, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem has said.

The museum had regarded the thumb-sized artefact, thought part of a sceptre, as one of its most precious possessions.

However, Israeli experts conducting an investigation discovered the artefact was much older than believed.

The museum paid $500,000 (260,000) for the object in 1998, believing it an important relic of Jewish history.

But Israeli experts have now determined that the object is a lot older than originally believed.

It dates to the 13th or 14th Century BC rather than to the 8th Century BC, or the time of Solomon, as originally believed.

Researchers had thought that the pomegranate was an ornamental top for a priest's sceptre, based in part on an inscription which reads "Belonging to the Temple of the Lord, holy to the priests."

Now officials say the Hebrew inscription was only added to the pomegranate recently.

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