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Archaeologists Used Earth’s Magnetic Field to Verify a Biblical Event

Archaeologists Used Earth’s Magnetic Field to Verify a Biblical Event

A team of researchers has found proof of an often-disputed biblical event, describing the discovery as a “scientific breakthrough.”

The event, as described in 2 Kings 12:17, centers around a battle in Gath: “About this time, Hazael, king of Aram, went up and attacked Gath and captured it. Then he turned back to Jerusalem.”

Researchers from four Israeli universities — Tel Aviv University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Bar-Ilan University and Ariel University — developed a method that proves the bricks archaeologists discovered at the site were destroyed in a fire that was set by King Hazael’s army. The team’s method involved measuring Earth’s magnetic field, which is “recorded” in the burnt bricks.

“Our findings are very important for deciphering the intensity of the fire and scope of destruction at Gath, the largest and most powerful city in the Land of Israel at the time, as well as understanding the building methods prevailing in that era,” professor Aren Maeir of Bar-Ilan University said.

Professor Yoav Vaknin of Tel Aviv University said burnt bricks from ancient times display different magnetic fields depending on how they were cooled and used.

“When a brick is fired in a kiln before construction, it records the direction of the earth’s magnetic field at that specific time and place,” Vakin explained. “In Israel, this means north and downward. But when builders take bricks from a kiln and build a wall, they lay them in random orientations, thus randomizing the recorded signals. On the other hand, when a wall is burned in-situ, as might happen when it is destroyed by an enemy, the magnetic fields of all bricks are locked in the same orientation.”

“Our findings signify that the bricks burned and cooled down in-situ, right where they were found, namely in a conflagration in the structure itself, which collapsed within a few hours,” Vaknin said. “Had the bricks been fired in a kiln and then laid in the wall, their magnetic orientations would have been random. Moreover, had the structure collapsed over time, not in a single fire event, the collapsed debris would have displayed random magnetic orientations.”

The team concluded that their new method “scientifically corroborates” the biblical event.

The battle at Gath — now modern-day Tell es-Safi, Israel — has long been disputed by scholars. Skeptics of the biblical story theorized that “the building had not burned down but rather collapsed over decades, and that the fired bricks found in the structure had been fired in a kiln prior to construction,” a news release said.

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