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A new archaeomagnetic process has been developed by scientists from Tel Aviv University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Bar-Ilan University, and Ariel University that enables scholars to estimate the firing temperatures of burnt materials unearthed in excavations. Unlike previous techniques, the new process is effective for artifacts that were heated at lower temperatures, even as low as 200°C. Having confirmed the effectiveness of the new technique in lab-controlled tests, the researchers used the process to settle a dispute about the destruction layer at Tell es-Safi/Gath, which is attributed to the Aramaean king Hazael (2 Kings 12:17). Some scholars had speculated that the bricks in one area had been kiln-fired, not burned on location during Hazael’s destruction of Gath. The results of the new tests, however, indicate that both the bricks from the wall and those from the debris beside the wall were burned and then cooled down in situ, indicating that they were fired during Hazael’s destruction. The team has published its research in an article in the journal PLOS ONE entitled, “Applying Thermal Demagnetization to Archaeological Materials: A Tool for Detecting Burnt Clay and Estimating its Firing Temperature.”

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