The investigation of archaeological material for dating using magnetic methods is usually referred to as archaeomagnetism. Archaeomagnetism has been utilised as a method for dating fired and heated archaeological material successfully for a number of decades. Currently, our definition of the local geomagnetic field for the British Isles is characterised by a Secular Variation Curve SVC for the past 4, years Zananiri et al. I am part of the newest wave of researchers trying to improve our knowledge of the past geomagnetic field and how it can be utilised to assist in answering archaeological questions.
What does archaeomagnetism mean?
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Additional references are summarised within the 'Bibliography' section. A record of how the Earth's magnetic field has changed over time is required to calibrate the measured information from an archaeomagnetic sample into a calendar date. It was first realised that the direction of the Earth's field changes with time in the 16 th century, since which time scientists beginning with Henry Gellibrand have periodically made observations of the changes in both the declination and inclination at magnetic observatories.
Archaeomagnetic dating is the study and interpretation of the signatures of the Earth's magnetic field at past times recorded in archaeological materials. These paleomagnetic signatures are fixed when ferromagnetic materials such as magnetite cool below the Curie point , freezing the magnetic moment of the material in the direction of the local magnetic field at that time. The direction and magnitude of the magnetic field of the Earth at a particular location varies with time , and can be used to constrain the age of materials. In conjunction with techniques such as radiometric dating , the technique can be used to construct and calibrate the geomagnetic polarity time scale. This is one of the dating methodologies used for sites within the last 10, years.