research product . 2022

Archaeomagnetism and its applications in the broader American Southwest

Jones, Shelby Anne;
Open Access English
  • Published: 01 Jan 2022
  • Publisher: eScholarship, University of California
  • Country: United States
In the United States Southwest in the early 1960s, an academic lineage began utilizing the techniques of paleomagnetism and geomagnetism for applications in archaeology. However, most of the research was conducted with an enterprise mindset, resulting in few published data that are often embedded in hard-to-find and hard-to-access archaeological reports, limiting the work’s accessibility to geomagnetic researchers. Furthermore, when published, the results were generally averaged at the site level using statistical conventions different from today’s standards, limiting the data’s comparability and (re)usability. The outcome was that only small subsets of nearly six decades of archaeomagnetic measurement and research could be (re)used for geomagnetic applications, like global field modeling and archaeomagnetic dating curve development. Moreover, the development of applications of archaeomagnetism to answer questions related feature use and function stalled. This thesis undertakes an archival study to salvage and collate surviving data and metadata for archaeointensity and archaeodirectional records. The goal was accessibility, with an understanding of the limitations and quality of the dataset, where possible. The work resulted in the compilation of 131 previously published archaeointensity values, the addition of 54 new archaeointensity values (of which 8 are considered high quality), and the digitization of measurement data for over 51,000 specimens from over 5,377 archaeodirectional sites. The compilation resulted in confirmation that the data from the various laboratories are able to be treated and used as one dataset, without any systematic biases. The archaeodirectional dataset was filtered for quality, and the highest quality 223 data with reliable chronology were included in the development of a new virtual geomagnetic pole (VGP) reference curve for the last 2000 years for the Four Corners region of the United States Southwest. Finally, I build on the work of Wulf Gose, applying the techniques of directional archaeomagnetism to understanding the use and function of enigmatic burned rock features from east Texas. The magnetic declination and inclination data, paired with the archaeological context suggest that the rocks of one feature have remained substantially in-situ since the feature’s last significant heat exposure, while the rocks of a second feature have been moved since last heating.
free text keywords: Geology, Archaeology, Geophysics, Archaeomagnetism
Related Organizations
  • Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage
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