Bricks from Mesopotamia reveal the Earth’s magnetic field

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Thousands of years after its discovery, the ancient Mesopotamian civilization continues to amaze and once again offers an original interpretation of some of the secrets of our planet. This time, astronomy was challenged: the scientific analysis of some Mesopotamian bricks actually offered valuable evidence for a better understanding of the changes in the Earth’s magnetic field over time, a circumstance that could also help us predict future changes. .

“Signature” hidden. The earth’s magnetism, with its role as a “protective shield” against solar radiation and other astronomical phenomena, is indispensable for the protection of life, despite the changes it has undergone over the millennia. But what does this have to do with such ancient archaeological finds? That’s easy to say. In a study conducted by researchers from University College London, 32 clay bricks from various archaeological sites scattered throughout ancient Mesopotamia, in the area corresponding to present-day Iraq, were analyzed, in which the name of the ruler ruling there was engraved. In the study, the researchers analyzed the magnetic signatures hidden in the iron oxide grains embedded in the bricks, “imprinted” when they were fired in a kiln more than three millennia ago.

Geomagnetic anomaly. To develop a historical “map” that reconstructed the changes in the Earth’s magnetic field, the researchers compared the names of kings engraved on the bricks (useful for understanding their dating) and the magnetic strength present in the iron oxide grains. They were thus able to confirm the existence of a peculiarity that occurred in the period between 1050 and 550 BC During this time horizon, a phenomenon called the “Levantan Iron Age Geomagnetic Anomaly” occurred, during which the Earth’s magnetism was unusually strong, although from previously unknown reasons. Evidence of this event has so far been lacking in the Middle East, but has been found in other parts of the world, including China, Bulgaria and the Azores.

Archaeomagnetism. The importance of the subject study goes beyond the single investigated phenomenon and could significantly enrich the currently used archaeological dating methods, based mainly on known radiocarbon analysis. According to Mark Altaweel, co-author of the research, examining the magnetism of finds that cannot be placed chronologically using carbon 14 (such as bricks and ceramics, without the organic material necessary for this type of investigation) could help. walk with them. In this case we would speak of “archaeomagnetism”.



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