Physics and archaeology: magnetic field as a reliable tool for searching ancient remains in Israel

Lev Eppelbaum, Itkis S., Petrov A.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Physical methods in archaeology are based on the difference (contrast) in the physical properties of archaeological features and surrounding soil. Magnetic investigations involve measurements of the Earth’s total magnetic field on a regular or irregular grid of observations points spaced at the investigated site. The data are used for computing magnetic maps reflecting the subsurface structure of the studied archaeological sites. Analyzing magnetic fields provides a ground plan of cultural remains before excavations or even used instead of excavations. The final aim of such an investigation is to develop a physical-geological model of the site under study. However, numerous noises of natural and artificial origin enormously complicate the interpretation of the observed anomalies. The most significant disturbing factors are oblique magnetization (Earth’s magnetization vector at the Israeli territory is inclined about of 45^o to the horizon), complex geological structure (presence of a variety of disturbing bodies) in the investigated sites, rugged relief influence as well as the influence of modern iron-containing objects. The non-conventional interpreting system developed especially for such complicated environments allows for the elimination of various noises, selecting “useful” anomalies against the noise background, conducting qualitative and quantitative interpretation of anomalies, and 3-D modeling of the magnetic field. In Israel, magnetic investigations have been effectively applied in several archaeological sites. The last detailed magnetic studies performed in the well-known Tel Megiddo area allowed us to recognize a variety of new archaeological remains.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-78
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Israel
Issue number2
StatePublished - 10 Jul 2000


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