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Scholars Trace Changes in Earth’s Magnetic Field Since 586 BCE through Jerusalem’s Ruins

A team of Israeli researchers from the Tel Aviv University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Israel Antiquities Authority have been able to measure the Earth’s magnetic field on the day Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, shaping a groundbreaking contribution by the Jewish people’s long memory to preserve and reveal traces of the planet’s past.

When objects containing magnetic minerals burn at a very high temperature, those minerals are re-magnetized and therefore record the direction and the magnitude of the field in that precise moment. Artifacts like pottery, bricks and tiles, which are fired in furnaces, ovens and kilns, can all provide these records. However, as precise as their dating can be, it usually spans of at least a few decades.

On the contrary, if documented by historical records, destruction layers can be pinned down to a very specific moment – in the case of Jerusalem in 586 almost to the date - providing a unique opportunity.

Among the most notable remains of the building, the archaeologists noticed several fragments of a sophisticated plaster floor. Those pieces, left in the same position for millennia, proved to be essential for measuring the intensity and direction of the Earth’s magnetic field in those precise moments. (JPost / VFI News)