Past values for the geomagnetic intensity may be obtained by laboratory analysis of the thermoremanent magnetization carried by clay baked in ancient times. From global averages1–3 of such determinations it is commonly accepted that the intensity in any given region went through a broad maximum about 2,000 years ago, reaching a level ∼50% higher than at present. Here we present results obtained from a wide range of Chinese pottery, spanning the interval from 4000 BC to the present, indicating that the field behaviour was more complex. The intensity was high between 1500 and 1000 BC and again in the first half of the first millennium AD. Comparison with results reported4,5 for Western Asia, Egypt and Crete suggests that these high values are due to non-dipole disturbances in the geomagnetic field, consistent with long-term records6–8 of the cosmogenic radioisotopes 14C and 10Be.
Access optionsAccess options
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $3.90 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
1. Smith, P. J. Geophys. J. R. astr. Soc. 12, 213–362 (1967). 2. Cox, A. / geophys. Res. 73, 3257–60 (1968). 3. McElhinny, M. W. & Senanayake, W. E. /. Geomagn. Geoelectr. 34, 39–51 (1982). 4. Aitken, M. J., Allsop, A. L., Bussell, G. D. & Winter, M. B. Nature 310, 306–308 (1984). 5. Aitken, M. J., Alcock, P. A., Bussell, G. D. & Shaw, C. J. in Geomagnetism of Baked Clays and Recent Sediments (eds Creer, K. M., Tucholka, P. & Barton C. E.) 122–127 (Elsevier, Amsterdam 1983). 6. Stuiver, M. & Pearson, G. W. Radiocarbon 28, 805–838 (1986). 7. Pearson, G. W. & Stuiver, M. Radiocarbon 28, 839–862 (1986). 8. Beer, J. et al. Nucl. Instrum. Meth. B5, 380–384 (1984). 9. Thellier, E. & Thellier, O. Ann. Geophys. 15, 285–367 (1959). 10. Aitken, M. J., Alcock, P. A., Bussell, G. D. & Shaw, C. J. Archaeometry 23, 53–64 (1981). 11. Aitken, M. J., Allsop, A. L., Bussell, G .D. & Winter, M. J. Geomagn. Geoelectr. 38,1355–1363 (1986). 12. Barton, C. E., Merrill, R. T. & Barbetti, M. Phys. Earth planet. Inter. 20, 96–110 (1979). 13. Bullard, E. C., Freedman, C., Gellman, H. & Nixon, J. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. 243,67–92 (1950).
About this article
Archaeomagnetic Studies at Schmidt Institute of Physics of the Earth, Russian Academy of Sciences: History and Main Results
Izvestiya, Physics of the Solid Earth (2019)
Frontiers in Earth Science (2017)
Geomagnetic intensity variations for the past 8 kyr: New archaeointensity results from Eastern China
Earth and Planetary Science Letters (2014)
Paleosecular variations refining the chronology of the sediments from the Pearl River Delta, southern China
The Holocene (2013)