Magnetic Fields Frozen by Fire
Scientists from Hebrew University (HU) and Tel Aviv University (TAU) are employing “breakthrough” dating technology using the Earth’s magnetic field to verify military campaigns against the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah.
Map of the studied destruction layers and the different military campaigns. A schematic illustration of possible routes is presented following Rainey and Notley (21). Chronological anchors are highlighted in bold.
The Study, “Reconstructing Biblical Military Campaigns Using Geomagnetic Field Data” was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and is based on the doctoral thesis of Yoav Vaknin, who was supervised by Prof. Erez Ben-Yosef and Prof. Oded Lipschits of TAU’s Institute of Archaeology and Prof. Ron Shaar of HU’s Institute of Earth Sciences.
The effort involved 20 researchers from different countries and disciplines who claimed to have accurately dated 21 destruction layers at 17 archaeological sites throughout Israel. Using this new scientific dating tool, researchers now have more evidence that ancient Egyptians, Arameans, Assyrians and Babylonians did wage the battles that are described in the Old Testament during the 10th to 6th centuries BC.
When magnetic materials are burned or heated they record the precise direction and/or intensity of the Earth’s geomagnetic field at the time of the fire (thermoremanent magnetization). Researchers say they have found this data to be a reliable scientific tool for archeological dating because it makes it possible to reconstruct the magnetic field for particular times in history. Looking at sites where the dates of historical events was already firmly established through various collaborating sources, scientists use the preserved magnetic fields to piece together the timing of other destroyed areas where the dating was more questionable.
“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,” says lead author Yoav Vaknin, a PhD student at TAU, in a media release.