Geomagnetic Fields Reveal Truth Behind Bible Stories

Geomagnetic Fields Reveal Truth Behind Bible Stories

Burnt mud brick wall of Tel Batash (Biblical Timnah) with field orientation marking. Credit: Yoav Vaknin.

A joint study by TAU and the Hebrew University, involving 20 researchers from different countries and disciplines, accurately dated 21 layers of destruction at 17 archaeological sites in Israel by reconstructing the direction and/or intensity of the recorded Earth’s magnetic field in the burnt remains. The new data verifies the biblical accounts of Egyptian, Aramaic, Assyrian and Babylonian military campaigns against the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

The finds indicate, for example, that the army of Hazael, king of Aram-Damascus, was responsible for the destruction of several cities – Tel Rehov, Tel Zayit and Horvat Tevet, in addition to Gath of the Philistines, the destruction of which is recorded in the Hebrew Bible. At the same time, the study refutes the prevailing theory that Hazael was the conqueror who destroyed Tel Beth-Shean.

Other geomagnetic discoveries reveal that the cities of the Negev were destroyed by the Edomites, who took advantage of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Judah by the Babylonians.

The groundbreaking interdisciplinary study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and is based on the doctoral thesis of Yoav Vaknin, supervised by Prof. Erez Ben-Yosef and Prof. Oded Lipschits of the Institute of Archeology at TAU ​​and Prof. Ron Shaar of the Institute of Earth Sciences at TAU. Hebrew University.

Yoav Vaknin explains the research. Credit: Tel-Aviv University

The researchers explain that geophysicists, trying to understand the mechanism of the Earth’s magnetic field, follow the changes of this field throughout history. To this end, they use archaeological finds containing magnetic minerals which, when heated or burned, record the magnetic field at the time of the fire.

Thus, in a 2020 study, researchers reconstructed the magnetic field as it was on the 9e from the month of Av, 586 BCE, the Hebrew date of the destruction of the First Temple and the city of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian army.

Now, using archaeological finds unearthed over several decades at 17 sites across Israel, along with historical information from ancient inscriptions and biblical accounts, researchers have been able to piece together the magnetic fields recorded in 21 layers of destruction. They used the data to develop a reliable new scientific tool for archaeological dating.

Geomagnetic Fields Reveal Truth Behind Bible Stories

Yoav Vaknin measuring at the site. Credit: Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority.

Yoav Vaknin explains that “based on the similarity or difference in magnetic field strength and direction, we can either support or refute hypotheses that specific sites were burned during the same military campaign. In addition, we have constructed a field strength variation curve over time which can serve as a scientific dating tool, similar to the radiocarbon dating method.”

An example given by scholars is the destruction of the Philistines’ Gath (identified today as Tel Tzafit in the foothills of Judea) by Hazael, king of Aram-Damascus. Various dating methods have placed this event around 830 BCE, but have been unable to verify that Hazael was also responsible for the destruction of Tel Rehov, Tel Zayit and Horvat Tevet.

Now, the new study, identifying complete statistical synchronization between the magnetic fields recorded at all four of these sites at the time of destruction, makes a very strong case for their destruction during the same campaign.

A level of destruction at Tel Beth-Shean, on the other hand, registering an entirely different magnetic field, disproves the prevailing assumption that it was also destroyed by Hazael. Instead, magnetic data from Beth-Shean indicates that this city, along with two other sites in northern Israel, was likely destroyed 70 to 100 years earlier, a date that may correspond to the pharaoh’s military campaign. Egyptian Shoshenq.

Shoshenq’s campaign is described in the Hebrew Bible and in an inscription on a wall of the Temple of Amun at Karnak, Egypt, which mentions Beth-Shean as one of his conquests.

One of the most interesting discoveries revealed by the new dating method concerns the end of the kingdom of Judah. Professor Erez Ben Yosef says: “The last days of the kingdom of Judah are widely debated. Some scholars, relying on archaeological evidence, argue that Judah was not completely destroyed by the Babylonians.

“While Jerusalem and the border towns of the Judean foothills ceased to exist, other cities in the Negev, the southern Judean mountains and the southern Judean foothills remained almost unchanged. Now the magnetic results support this hypothesis, indicating that the Babylonians were not solely responsible for Judah’s ultimate death.

“Several decades after destroying Jerusalem and the First Temple, sites in the Negev that had survived the Babylonian campaign were destroyed – probably by the Edomites who profited from the fall of Jerusalem. This betrayal and participation in the destruction from the surviving towns may explain why the Hebrew Bible expresses so much hatred for the Edomites – for example, in the prophecy of Obadiah.”

Geomagnetic Fields Reveal Truth Behind Bible Stories

Map of the layers of destruction studied and the different military campaigns. Credits: Itamar Ben-Ezra

Professor Oded Lipschits adds that “the new dating tool is unique because it is based on geomagnetic data from sites, whose exact dates of destruction are known from historical sources. By combining accurate historical information with archaeological research advanced and complete, we were able to base the magnetic method on a solidly anchored chronology.”

A separate article, presenting the scientific principles of the new method of archaeomagnetic dating, is in preparation. Professor Ron Shaar, who led the geophysical aspects of the study, as well as the development of the geomagnetic dating method, explains that “Earth’s magnetic field is essential to our existence. Most people don’t realize that without it , there could be no life on earth, because it protects us from cosmic radiation and the solar wind.In addition, humans and animals use it to navigate.The geomagnetic field is generated by the outer core of the earth, at a depth of 2,900 km, by currents of liquid iron.”

Geomagnetic Fields Reveal Truth Behind Bible Stories

Burnt mud stones. Credit: Tel Aviv University.

“Due to the chaotic movement of this iron, the magnetic field changes over time. Until recently, scientists thought it remained fairly stable for decades, but archaeomagnetic research has contradicted this assumption by revealing extreme changes and unpredictable in antiquity. Our location here in Israel is particularly conducive to archaeomagnetic research, due to an abundance of well-dated archaeological finds. Over the past decade, we have reconstructed magnetic fields recorded by hundreds of archaeological objects.

“By combining this dataset with data from Yoav’s survey of historical destruction layers, we were able to form a continuous variation curve showing rapid and sharp changes in the geomagnetic field. This is wonderful news, both for archaeologists who can now use geomagnetic data to determine the age of ancient materials and for geophysicists who study the Earth’s core.”

Chicken bones and snail shells help archaeologists date the destruction of the ancient city

More information:
Vaknin, Yoav, Reconstructing Biblical Military Campaigns Using Geomagnetic Field Data, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2022). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2209117119.

Provided by Tel Aviv University

Quote: Geomagnetic Fields Reveal Truth Behind Biblical Accounts (2022, October 24) Retrieved October 24, 2022 from

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