In a recent study, scientists used data on the Earth’s magnetic field to support the biblical accounts of the Egyptian, Aramean, Assyrian, & Babylonian military operations against the kingdoms of Israel & Judah.
The study, which involved 20 international scientists and researchers, was carried out by Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), reconstructed changes in the Earth’s magnetic field as recorded in 21 destruction layers in 17 archaeological sites across Israel, constructing a variation curve of field intensity over-time that can be used as a scientific dating tool.
The study’s conclusions, for instance, suggest that the army of Hazael, King of Aram-Damascus, first mentioned in the Book of Kings, was behind the destruction of Gath of the Philistines, whose destruction is recorded in the Hebrew Bible, as well as Tel Rehov, Tel Zayit, and Horvat Tevet.
At the same time, the research disproves the widely held belief that Hazael was the invader who devastated Tel Beth-Shean.
Tools for archaeological dating
Geophysicists study variations in the Earth’s magnetic field throughout time to better understand the mechanism of the field. They examine archaeological findings like pottery sherds, bricks, roof tiles, & furnaces.
These archaeological objects contain tiny ferromagnetic particles that, when heated to high temperatures, such those in a pottery kiln or a destructive fire, behave like small compass needles. Depending on the direction and strength of the field at the moment, they align with the Earth’s magnetic field and start to get magnetised. Similar to a fingerprint, this information is specific to the day it was recorded.
In the last ten years, scientists have recreated magnetic fields captured by hundreds of archaeological artefacts. As a result, the study’s researchers were able to compare the magnetic fields of archaeological objects that had been dated with historical data from ancient inscriptions and biblical accounts with the magnetic fields recorded by these destruction layers.
One of the project’s main researchers and PhD student Yoav Vaknin said, “Based on the similarity or difference in intensity and direction of the magnetic field, we can either validate or disprove hypotheses claims stating that specific places were burned during the same military action.”
The end of Judah’s kingdom is another intriguing result made possible by the new date method. According to one archaeological theory, the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and the frontier towns in the Judean foothills but left the towns in the Negev and the southern Judean mountains almost un-touched.
“The final days of the Kingdom of Judah are a hotly discussed topic. Some experts suggest, based on archaeological evidence, argue that the Babylonians did not fully destroy Judah ” said Yoav Vaknin’s supervisor is Erez Ben Yosef, a professor at Tel Aviv University.
Recent geomagnetic discoveries support the idea that the cities in the Negev were destroyed some decades later, most likely by the Edomites, and that “Babylonians were not completely responsible for Judah’s ultimate demise.”
A unique dating tool
Beyond confirming biblical history, scientists to date the age of ancient sites using this new method of geomagnetic testing.
It could potentially be used to forecast future changes and behaviours in the magnetic field. This is crucial because even minor variations in the Earth’s magnetic field can have a significant impact on the planet’s surface.