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Geoarch@Leiden Lunch Lecture

Paleomagnetism, an elderly tool for even older sites. But is the best yet to come? Some background and examples.

  • Mark Sier
Thursday 5 December 2019
Van Steenis
Einsteinweg 2
2333 CC Leiden

This year it is 750 years ago that “Epistola de Magnete”, the first scientific document about magnetism, was published by Petrus Perigrinus. This anniversary is a clear indication of the long research history in this field. However, it was not until the 1940´s that we started to understand that the Earth´s magnetic field changed over time. This realization led to discovery of the mechanism behind plate-tectonics and the development of magnetostratigraphy. Its potential for dating archaeological sites was seen from the start, resulting into a close collaboration between Archaeology and Paleomagnetism. Indeed, the term Olduvai has a meaning in both fields of research:  Olduvai is a stone tool type and also the name given to the normal polarity (sub) chron around 1.8 and 2.0 Ma old.

In this talk, I will give a short overview of the different paleomagnetic methods that are used in Archaeology and Paleontology today and what kind of improvements we might see in the future. Finally, I will show some case studies in which paleomagnetism has helped answer archaeological questions.

As always: bring your lunch! LeidenGeoarch provides coffee, tea and pepernoten!

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