Researchers from Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University (TAU) in Jerusalem worked together on a study that perfectly brought to light the exact period of 21 ravaged settlements at 17 different archaeological sites in Israel by modifying the parameters of our planet's magnetic field which were written in charred remains.
'The new dating tool is unique because it is based on geomagnetic data from sites whose exact destruction dates are known from historical sources,' says Oded Lipschits, a Tel Aviv University professor. 'We were able to base the magnetic method on reliably anchored chronology by combining precise historical information with advanced, comprehensive archaeological research.'
“Paleomagnetic data is particularly useful when it comes to remains from 800-400 B.C.E., a period for which radiocarbon dating does not enable high resolution dating,” says Yoav Vaknin, a doctoral candidate at Tel Aviv University. “This means that, for this period, archaeologists often tend to date their finds based only on ceramic typology, a tried and true method, but not a particularly precise one.”
The inscriptions then revealed that King Hazael's army were the ones accountable for the annihilation of many cities (now archaeological sites), including Horvat Tevet, Tel Rehov, Tel Zayit, as well as Gath of the Philistines, whose ruination is inscribed in the Mikra. In addition, the research disproves the widely held belief that King Hazael was the one who brought Tel Beth-Shean to ruins.
The remaining geomagnetic discoveries confirmed that the Edomites, who took part in the destruction of Jerusalem, were also responsible for razing the cities in the Negev Desert.
'Based on the similarity or difference in intensity and direction of the magnetic field, we can either corroborate or disprove hypotheses claiming that specific sites were burned during the same military campaign. Moreover, we have constructed a variation curve of field intensity over time which can serve as a scientific dating tool, similar to the radiocarbon dating method,” Vaknin explained.
A completely separate document is also being prepared to display the scientific principles of the novel archaeomagnetic dating method.
'Earth's magnetic field is critical to our existence. Most people don't realize that without it there could be no life on earth—since it shields us from cosmic radiation and the solar wind. In addition, both humans and animals use it to navigate. The geomagnetic field is generated by earth's outer core, at a depth of 2,900 km, by currents of liquid iron,” says Ron Shaar, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
'Due to the chaotic motion of this iron, the magnetic field changes over time. Until recently scientists believed that it remains quite stable for decades, but archaeomagnetic research has contradicted this assumption by revealing some extreme and unpredictable changes in antiquity. Our location here in Israel is uniquely conducive to archaeomagnetic research, due to an abundance of well-dated archaeological findings. Over the past decade we have reconstructed magnetic fields recorded by hundreds of archaeological items.'
'By combining this dataset with the data from Yoav's investigation of historical destruction layers we were able to form a continuous variation curve showing rapid, sharp changes in the geomagnetic field. This is wonderful news, both for archaeologists who can now use geomagnetic data to determine the age of ancient materials and for geophysicists studying the earth's core.'
Paleomagnetism might just be the solution to resolving the world's numerous historical disputes. 'Is this the real king?' , 'Is this the most accurate discovery?' Such questions are limitless, just as the new tool will provide limitless answers. Isn't it a fascinatingly weird cycle?