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Rapid geomagnetic field intensity variations in the Near East during the 6th millennium BC: New archeointensity data from Halafian site Yarim Tepe II (Northern Iraq)

Abstract : We present new archeointensity results from a series of groups of pottery fragments that were collected from the multi-layered archeological site Yarim Tepe II in Northern Iraq (Northern Mesopotamia) dated to the 6th millennium BC. This site comprises a 7-m-thick sequence of archeological deposits encompassing the Middle Halaf, Late Halaf and the Halaf-Ubaid Transitional (HUT), between ∼5750 and ∼5000 BC according to the chronology currently considered for the Halafian archeological period. Three new radiocarbon dates obtained from bone fragments confirm that Yarim Tepe II was likely not occupied before the Middle Halaf, as was independently established from archeological constraints. Archeointensity determinations were carried out using the protocol developed for the Triaxe magnetometer. This procedure takes into account thermoremanent magnetization anisotropy and cooling rate effects. 114 fragments fulfilled our set of archeointensity selection criteria, with intensity data obtained from at least two but most often three specimens per fragment. Mean archeointensity values were estimated for 23 groups of fragments well distributed across the entire stratigraphic sequence from the averaging of the data obtained from a minimum of three fragments per group. These values were dated using a bootstrap procedure relying on the stratigraphic position of the different groups of fragments and on the different age constraints available inside the Yarim Tepe II sequence. The new data show a significant decrease in geomagnetic field intensity by ∼12 μT between the Middle Halaf and the Late Halaf-HUT time interval. This decrease was accompanied by a short intensity peak, which may have lasted only a few decades, around the Middle Halaf-Late Halaf boundary, at ∼5500 BC. This evolution is quite similar to that observed from Syrian and Bulgarian archeointensity data, even though the precise duration of the intensity peak is presently questionable. The Bulgarian data set further suggests that the intensity secular variation in the Near East and in Eastern Europe during the 6th millennium BC was in fact principally punctuated by two successive short-lasting intensity peaks, the first around 5800 BC and the second around 5500 BC. The scarcity of the intensity data available worldwide, however, prevents us constraining the geomagnetic dipole or non-dipole origin of these features. The variation rates associated with the rapid intensity fluctuations observed in Yarim Tepe II are of ∼0.15-0.25 μT/yr. This range of values appears similar to that of rapid intensity variations that sporadically occurred in more recent times, such as in Western Europe around 700 BC and 1000 AD. In contrast, it is lower than the variation rates that were proposed for geomagnetic spikes. Our results also have interesting implications on Halafian archeology; in particular, they suggest that the Late Halaf-HUT boundary was older by ∼ one century than previously considered.
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Submitted on : Friday, February 25, 2022 - 3:42:05 PM
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Stanislava Yutsis-Akimova, Yves Gallet, Shahmardan Amirov. Rapid geomagnetic field intensity variations in the Near East during the 6th millennium BC: New archeointensity data from Halafian site Yarim Tepe II (Northern Iraq). EARTH AND PLANETARY SCIENCE LETTERS, 2018, 482, pp.201-212. ⟨10.1016/j.epsl.2017.11.013⟩. ⟨insu-03589388⟩



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