Archaeomagnetism dating divas
This restricts the contexts that can be dated to in situ features, such as hearths, kilns, moats, ditches etc. These samples are marked for true north at the time of collection. The difference is in the type of question that is addressed.
In general, many cultures used long-term fire hearths made of clay bricks, or a space lined with clay, that were baked into place by use. Within these weaker areas the local directions and intensities change gradually secular variation. Suitable deposits will be found within these sorts of locations as stratified layers of silty clay. This involves sufficient mass to take samples from, and a suitable material with adequate magnetite to hold the remnant magnetism.
Each of the samples is measured in a spinner magnetometer to determine the thermal remanent magnetism of each sample. Lower temperature reheating may also be detectable in some situations.
The Archaeomagnetic Laboratory at the Illinois State Museum has secular variation curves for the southwest, mid-continent and southeast United States. The magnetic declination at any given time can be frozen into a clay formation that contains magnetite and is heated above the Curie point. It has the advantage over using directional information that the sampled materials do not need to be in situ, and so can include objects of fired clay, such as pottery, bricks, and tiles. Most dating applications use the direction of the magnetic field to provide a date. Because secular variation is a repetitive looping motion through time, it is possible to have multiple date options for a feature.
The samples are sent to an Archaeomagnetic Laboratory for processing. Data from this feature is compared to the regional secular variation curve in order to determine the best-fit date range for the feature's last firing event.
Additional data points from archaeomagnetic samples with corresponding dating techniques such as tree ring dating or carbon dates, help refine the regional curves. Image copyright Paul Linford, English Heritage.
These artifacts of occupation can yield the magnetic declination from the last time they were fired or used. As the material cools the magnetic field recorded within the material is fixed, thereby locking in a record of the location of magnetic north at that time.
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