Advances in archaeomagnetic dating in Britain: New data, new approaches and a new calibration curve
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Publication date: September 2017Source:Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 85 Author(s): Catherine M. Batt, Maxwell C. Brown, Sarah-Jane Clelland, Monika Korte, Paul Linford, Zoe Outram Archaeomagnetic dating offers a valuable chronological tool for archaeological investigations, particularly for dating fired material. The method depends on the establishment of a dated record of secular variation of the Earth’s magnetic field and this paper presents new and updated archaeomagnetic directional data from the UK and geomagnetic secular variation curves arising from them. The data are taken from publications from the 1950’s to the present day; 422 dated entries derived from existing archaeo and geomagnetic databases are re-evaluated and 487 new directions added, resulting in 909 entries with corresponding dates, the largest collection of dated archaeomagnetic directions from a single country. An approach to improving the largest source of uncertainty, the independent dating, is proposed and applied to the British Iron Age, resulting in 145 directions from currently available databases being updated with revised ages and/or uncertainties, and a large scale reassessment of age assignments prior to inclusion into the Magnetic Moments of the Past and GEOMAGIA50 databases. From the significantly improved dataset a new archaeomagnetic dating curve for the UK is derived through the development of a temporally continuous geomagnetic field model, and is compared with previous UK archaeomagnetic dating curves and global field models. The new model, ARCH-UK.1 allows model predictions for any location in the UK with associated uncertainties. It is shown to improve precision and accuracy in archaeomagnetic dating, and to provide new insight into past geomagnetic field changes.
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