Large geomagnetic field anomalies revealed in Bronze to Iron Age archeomagnetic data from Tel Megiddo and Tel Hazor, Israel

Ron Shaar*, Lisa Tauxe, Hagai Ron, Yael Ebert, Sharon Zuckerman, Israel Finkelstein, Amotz Agnon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Geomagnetic field measurements from the past few centuries show heightened secular variation activity in the southern hemisphere associated with the south Atlantic anomaly (SAA). It is uncertain whether geomagnetic anomalies at a similar scale have existed in the past owing to limited coverage and uncertainties in the paleomagnetic database. Here we provide new evidence from archaeological sources in the Levant suggesting a large positive northern hemisphere anomaly, similar in magnitude to the SAA during the 9th-8th centuries BCE, called "Levantine Iron Age anomaly". We also report an additional geomagnetic spike in the 8th century. The new dataset comprises 73 high precision paleointensity estimates from ca. 3000 BCE to 732 BCE, and five directional measurements between the 14th and the 9th centuries BCE. Well-dated pottery and cooking ovens were collected from twenty archaeological strata in two large contemporaneous stratigraphical mounds (tells) in Israel: Tel Megiddo and Tel Hazor. The new data are combined with previously published data and interpreted automatically using the PmagPy Thellier GUI program. The Tel Megiddo and Tel Hazor data sets demonstrate excellent internal consistency and remarkable agreement with published data from Mesopotamia (Syria). The data illustrate the evolution of an extreme geomagnetic high that culminated in at least two spikes between the 11th and the 8th centuries BCE (Iron Age in the Levant). The paleomagnetic directional data of the 9th century BCE show positive inclination anomalies, and deviations of up to 22° from the averaged geocentric axial dipole (GAD) direction. From comparison of the Levantine archaeomagnetic data with IGRF model for 2015 we infer the "Levantine Iron Age anomaly" between the 10th and the 8th centuries BCE is a local positive anomaly. The eastward extent of the anomaly is currently unknown.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)173-185
Number of pages13
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
StatePublished - 15 May 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier B.V.


  • Archaeomagnetism
  • Geomagnetic anomaly
  • Geomagnetic secular variations
  • Geomagnetic spikes
  • Paleointensity


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