Reconstructing biblical military campaigns using geomagnetic field data

Yoav Vaknin*, Ron Shaar, Oded Lipschits, Amihai Mazar, Aren M. Maeir, Yosef Garfinkel, Liora Freud, Avraham Faust, Ron E. Tappy, Igor Kreimerman, Saar Ganor, Karen Covello-Paran, Omer Sergi, Zeev Herzog, Rami Arav, Zvi Lederman, Stefan Münger, Alexander Fantalkin, Seymour Gitin, Erez Ben-Yosef

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Hebrew Bible and other ancient Near Eastern texts describe Egyptian, Aramean, Assyrian, and Babylonian military campaigns to the Southern Levant during the 10th to sixth centuries BCE. Indeed, many destruction layers dated to this period have been unearthed in archaeological excavations. Several of these layers are securely linked to specific campaigns and are widely accepted as chronological anchors. However, the dating of many other destruction layers is often debated, challenging the ability to accurately reconstruct the different military campaigns and raising questions regarding the historicity of the biblical narrative. Here, we present a synchronization of the historically dated chronological anchors and other destruction layers and artifacts using the direction and/ or intensity of the ancient geomagnetic field recorded in mud bricks from 20 burnt destruction layers and in two ceramic assemblages. During the period in question, the geomagnetic field in this region was extremely anomalous with rapid changes and high-intensity values, including spikes of more than twice the intensity of today’s field. The data are useful in the effort to pinpoint these short-term variations on the timescale, and they resolve chronological debates regarding the campaigns against the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, the relationship between the two kingdoms, and their administrations.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere2209117119
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume119
Issue number44
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.

Keywords

  • archaeointensity
  • archaeomagnetic dating
  • archaeomagnetic spike
  • archaeomagnetism
  • chronology

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