Panoramic view of Tel Tifdan, site where UC San Diego and Jordanian archaeologists excavated ceramic pottery sherds dating to the Pottery Neolithic period. Photo courtesy Tom Levy.
Archaeologists traditionally rely on finding organic remains for radiocarbon dating to pinpoint new finds in time, but often these are not found on sites dating over 5,000 years ago. As a result, dating sites in the ancient Levant from the Holocene (the last ca. 10,000 years) can be problematic – leading archaeologists and geophysicists to expand the possibilities for assessing the age of ancient artifacts with archaeomagnetic dating.
In an article published* in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers from the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Department of Anthropology have filled in some of the regional gaps in the record of Earth’s magnetic field. To do so, they used artifacts from the Neolithic period spanning roughly 8,200 to 5,500 years ago.
“Earth’s magnetic field has changed significantly in the past with implications for related phenomena, such as deep-Earth processes and evolution of life,” said Scripps geophysicist Lisa Tauxe. “Accurate datasets of its past behavior also provide a dating tool, but until now we have had little evidence of changes in the magnetic field during the Neolithic and earlier periods in the Levant.”
Tauxe collaborated with UC San Diego archaeologist Thomas E. Levy and researchers …….