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The inscription on the ancient stone Jehoash tablet that would have confirmed biblical narrative is a forgery, the daily Ma'ariv has reported.

When first revealed two years ago, the shoebox-sized tablet inscribed with 15 lines of ancient Hebrew caused a stir in the archaeological world with some experts dating the stone to the ninth century B.C.E.

An investigation by the Israel Antiquities Authority has found the inscription to be fake, the Ma'ariv daily said yesterday in an unattributed report.

Osnat Guez, a spokeswoman for the authority, said the investigation was in its last stages and that no final conclusions had been reached. Guez said the authority would announce its findings at the end of the month.

If authentic, the inscription on the small black tablet would validate passages of the Bible that detail renovations of the first Jewish Temple, ordered by King Jehoash in the Old Testament.

The Antiquities Authority together with Jerusalem police launched an investigation into the authenticity of the stone after it was offered for sale by Israeli collector Oded Golan.

Golan said he was surprised by the newspaper report, as he was scheduled to appear before the investigation committee next week. He also said several renowned world and Israeli scholars have not yet given testimony. "Something is strange here," he said.

Golan has in the past refused to say where he got the tablet. He has denied he owns it, but is suspected of trying to circumvent Israeli antiquities laws by waiting so long to report its existence.

Ma'ariv said charges would be brought against Golan.

Police had no comment on the investigation, saying only that it was under the jurisdiction of the Antiquities Authority.