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A team of researchers from the US, the UK, and Israel recently published an article entitled “Exploring Geomagnetic Variations in Ancient Mesopotamia: Archaeomagnetic Study of Inscribed Bricks from the 3rd–1st Millennia BCE” in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Archaeomagnetism is a process through which data on the magnetic field is recovered from the ferromagnetic materials, like iron oxides, that are in ancient artifacts which have been heated to extreme temperatures. In their research, the team analyzed grains of iron oxide in 32 bricks that had each been inscribed with the names of 12 Mesopotamian kings. The results have enabled the researchers to reconstruct a baseline for the earth’s magnetic field during the period spanning the reigns of these rulers. The team was also able to confirm the Levantine Iron Age geomagnetic Anomaly (LIAA), a period of high magnetic field intensity from ca. 1050 to 550 BC. Another key finding was a sudden fluctuation in the magnetic field during King Nebuchadnezzar’s rule (ca. 604-562 BC). The archaeomagnetic baseline established by the study will help in the dating of other uninscribed objects that were subjected to heat in the ancient past.

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