The strength of the Earth's magnetic field from pre-pottery to Pottery Neolithic, Jordan

Anita Di Chiara, Lisa Tauxe*, Thomas E. Levy, Mohammad Najjar, Fabio Florindo, Erez Ben-Yosef

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Constraining secular variation of the Earth's magnetic field strength in the past is fundamental to understanding short-term processes of the geodynamo. Such records also constitute a powerful and independent dating tool for archaeological sites and geological formations. In this study, we present 11 robust archaeointensity results from Pre-Pottery to Pottery Neolithic Jordan that are based on both clay and flint (chert) artifacts. Two of these results constitute the oldest archaeointensity data for the entire Levant, ancient Egypt, Turkey, and Mesopotamia, extending the archaeomagnetic reference curve for the Holocene. Virtual Axial Dipole Moments (VADMs) show that the Earth's magnetic field in the Southern Levant was weak (about two-thirds the present field) at around 7600 BCE, recovering its strength to greater than the present field around 7000 BCE, and gradually weakening again around 5200 BCE. In addition, successful results obtained from burnt flint demonstrate the potential of this very common, and yet rarely used, material in archaeomagnetic research, in particular for prehistoric periods from the first use of fire to the invention of pottery.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2100995118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number34
StatePublished - 24 Aug 2021


  • Archaeointensity
  • Jordan
  • Neolithic
  • Pre-Pottery neolithic


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