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Mesopotamia, an ancient civilization that thrived in what is now Iraq, has long guarded its mysteries. Now, ancient bricks that linger from that period are helping to illuminate more about its history and also the Earth’s, Cosmos Magazine reported.

Archaeologists have traditionally relied on methods such as carbon-14 dating to help them determine age. However, this method requires organic material, which is not found in bricks nor other remains of ancient civilizations.

Instead, the researchers analyzed magnetic evidence in the bricks, on which the names of Mesopotamian kings were scribed.

The geomagnetic field of our planet can vary dramatically. And as its strength changes, the Earth’s geomagnetic field leaves different signatures on compounds such as iron oxide.

Using a magnetometer, the scientists could identify these signatures on the bricks. In their study, they matched the magnetic clues with the reigns of the kings mentioned on the bricks to create a “historical map” of magnetism.

The study confirmed the so-called “Levantine Magnetic Anomaly” – referring to a period between 1050-550 BCE, during which magnetic intensity reached a peak amounting to double the current strength of Earth’s magnetic field.

The results laid the groundwork for dating remains that do not feature royal inscriptions and provide a better understanding of the behavior of the Earth’s magnetic field in the Mesopotamian era.

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