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Shaar, R, Ben-Yosef E, Ron H, Tauxe L, Agnon A, Kessel R.  2011.  Geomagnetic field intensity: How high can it get? How fast can it change? Constraints from Iron Age copper slag Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 301:297-306.   10.1016/j.epsl.2010.11.013   AbstractWebsite

The intensity of the geomagnetic field varies over different time scales. Yet, constraints on the maximum intensity of the field as well as for its maximum rate of change are inadequate due to poor temporal resolution and large uncertainties in the geomagnetic record. The purpose of this study is to place firm limits on these fundamental properties by constructing a high-resolution archaeointensity record of the Levant from the 11th century to the early 9th century BCE, a period over which the geomagnetic field reached its maximum intensity in Eurasia over the past 50,000 years. We investigate a (14)C-dated sequence of ten layers of slag material, which accumulated within an ancient industrial waste mound of an Iron Age copper-smelting site in southern Israel. Depositional stratigraphy constrains relative ages of samples analyzed for paleointensity, and (14)C dates from different horizons of the mound constrain the age of the whole sequence. The analysis yielded 35 paleointenisty data points with accuracy better than 94% and precision better than 6%, covering a period of less than 350 years, most probably 200 years. We construct a new high-resolution quasi-continuous archaeointensity curve of the Levant that displays two dramatic spikes in geomagnetic intensity, each corresponding to virtual axial dipole moment (VADM) in excess of 200 ZAm(2). The geomagnetic spikes rise and fall over a period of less than 30 years and are associated with VADM fluctuations of at least 70 ZAm2. Thus, the Levantine archaeomagnetic record places new constraints on maximum geomagnetic intensity as well as for its rate of change. Yet, it is not clear whether the geomagnetic spikes are local non-dipolar features or a geomagnetic dipolar phenomenon. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Ben-Yosef, E, Tauxe L, Levy TE.  2010.  Archaeomagnetic Dating of Copper Smelting Site F2 in the Timna Valley (Israel) and Its Implications for the Modelling of Ancient Technological Developments. Archaeometry. 52:1110-1121.   10.1111/j.1475-4754.2010.00528.x   AbstractWebsite

Site F2 in the Timna Valley, Israel, is a small copper smelting site of 'primitive' technology, dated by its excavator to the Pottery Neolithic (sixth to fifth millennium bce). This early date challenges the common view of the beginning of smelting technology in the Levant and has been contested by various scholars since its publication. In this study, we present results of archaeointensity experiments conducted on slag fragments from the site. The slag yielded an excellent ancient geomagnetic value (64.1 +/- 1.1 mu T) that, when compared to the Levantine master curve, suggests an age not older than the second millennium and most probably between the 13th and 11th centuries bce. In addition to demonstrating the applicability of geomagnetic archaeointensity experiments to independent dating of slag, we discuss the implications of the current results for the socio-historical picture of the Timna Valley, and in particular for the way in which technological developments were previously modelled in the archaeometallurgical research on the region.

Ben-Yosef, E, Tauxe L, Levy TE, Shaar R, Ron H, Najjar M.  2009.  Geomagnetic intensity spike recorded in high resolution slag deposit in Southern Jordan. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 287:529-539.   10.1016/j.epsl.2009.09.001   AbstractWebsite

In paleomagnetism, periods of high field intensity have been largely ignored in favor of the more spectacular directional changes associated with low field intensity periods of excursions and reversals. Hence, questions such as how strong the field can get and how fast changes occur are still open. In this paper we report on data obtained from an archaeometallurgical excavation in the Middle East, designed specifically for archaeomagnetic sampling. We measured 342 specimens from 72 samples collected from a 6.1 m mound of well stratified copper production debris at the early Iron Age (12th-9th centuries BCE) site of Khirbat en-Nahas in Southern Jordan. Seventeen samples spanning 200 yr yielded excellent archaeointensity results that demonstrate rapid changes in field intensity in a period of overall high field values. The results display a remarkable spike in field strength, with sample mean values of over 120 mu T (compared to the current field strength of 44 mu T). A suite of 13 radiocarbon dates intimately associated with our samples, tight control of sample location and relative stratigraphy provide tight constraints on the rate and magnitude of changes in archaeomagnetic field intensities. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Levy, TE, Higham T, Ramsey CB, Smith NG, Ben-Yosef E, Robinson M, Munger S, Knabb K, Schulze JP, Najjar M, Tauxe L.  2008.  High-precision radiocarbon dating and historical biblical archaeology in southern Jordan. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 105:16460-16465.   10.1073/pnas.0804950105   AbstractWebsite

Recent excavations and high-precision radiocarbon dating from the largest Iron Age (IA, ca. 1200-500 BCE) copper production center in the southern Levant demonstrate major smelting activities in the region of biblical Edom (southern Jordan) during the loth and 9th centuries BCE. Stratified radiocarbon samples and artifacts were recorded with precise digital surveying tools linked to a geographic information system developed to control on-site spatial analyses of archaeological finds and model data with innovative visualization tools. The new radiocarbon dates push back by 2 centuries the accepted IA chronology of Edom. Data from Khirbat en-Nahas, and the nearby site of Rujm Hamra Ifdan, demonstrate the centrality of industrial-scale metal production during those centuries traditionally linked closely to political events in Edom's loth century BCE neighbor ancient Israel. Consequently, the rise of IA Edom is linked to the power vacuum created by the collapse of Late Bronze Age (LB, ca. 1300 BCE) civilizations and the disintegration of the LB Cypriot copper monopoly that dominated the eastern Mediterranean. The methodologies applied to the historical IA archaeology of the Levant have implications for other parts of the world where sacred and historical texts interface with the material record.

Ben-Yosef, E, Tauxe L, Ron H, Agnon A, Avner U, Najjar M, Levy TE.  2008.  A new approach for geomagnetic archaeointensity research: insights on ancient metallurgy in the Southern Levant. Journal of Archaeological Science. 35:2863-2879.   10.1016/j.jas.2008.05.016   AbstractWebsite

We present results from an archaeointensity investigation based on a relatively unexploited recording medium, copper slag deposits. Together with a recently improved experimental design for the archaeointensity experiment, we demonstrate the applicability of this medium, as well as other archaeometallurgical artifacts, for the study of the ancient geomagnetic field intensity. In addition to archaeointensity data from well-dated archaeological contexts, we obtained reliable archaeointensity results from poorly dated or contentious archaeometallurgical sites in the Southern Levant. These results shed new light on the dating of these sites, among them the copper smelting installation of Timna 39b a site that has important implications for the beginning of metallurgy during the fifth millennium BCE. The paper also aims to introduce archaeointensity research to the archaeologist scholar, and to encourage further collaboration between the disciplines in future research. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.