Archaeologists Use Remnants of the Destruction of Jerusalem to Understand the History of the Earth’s Magnetic Field

According to Albert Einstein, the changes in the planet’s magnetic field constitute one of the major unresolved problem of modern physics. Archaeological research into the Babylonians’ sacking of Jerusalem in 586 BCE could help bring scientists closer to the solving it, writes Rossella Tercatin:

Just a few steps from the Temple Mount, one prominent two-story building, probably used for administrative purposes, was . . . set on fire [during the Babylonian invasion] and collapsed. Over 2,600 years later, its carbonized beams and stones uncovered in the Givati parking lot . . . represent an incredibly vivid testimony of those grievous day.

Among the most notable remains of the building, the archaeologists noticed several fragments of a sophisticated plaster floor. Those pieces, left in the same position for millennia, proved to be essential for measuring the intensity and direction of the earth’s magnetic field in those precise moments.

While throughout modern history the direction has been associated to the geographic north, making it a pillar of navigation systems for centuries, in the past the magnetic field is known to have been completely neutral or even pointing south.

When objects containing magnetic minerals burn at a very high temperature, those minerals are re-magnetized and therefore record the direction and the magnitude of the field in that precise moment. Artifacts like pottery, bricks, and tiles, which are fired in furnaces, ovens, and kilns, can all provide these records. However, as precise as their dating can be, it usually spans of at least a few decades. On the contrary, if documented by historical records, [objects] can be pinned down to a very specific moment—in the case of Jerusalem in BCE 586—providing a unique opportunity.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Archaeology, First Temple, Jerusalem, Science

Iran’s Options for Revenge on Israel

On April 1, an Israeli airstrike on Damascus killed three Iranian generals, one of whom was the seniormost Iranian commander in the region. The IDF has been targeting Iranian personnel and weaponry in Syria for over a decade, but the killing of such a high-ranking figure raises the stakes significantly. In the past several days, Israelis have received a number of warnings both from the press and from the home-front command to ready themselves for retaliatory attacks. Jonathan Spyer considers what shape that attack might take:

Tehran has essentially four broad options. It could hit an Israeli or Jewish facility overseas using either Iranian state forces (option one), or proxies (option two). . . . Then there’s the third option: Tehran could also direct its proxies to strike Israel directly. . . . Finally, Iran could strike Israeli soil directly (option four). It is the riskiest option for Tehran, and would be likely to precipitate open war between the regime and Israel.

Tehran will consider all four options carefully. It has failed to retaliate in kind for a number of high-profile assassinations of its operatives in recent years. . . . A failure to respond, or staging too small a response, risks conveying a message of weakness. Iran usually favors using proxies over staging direct attacks. In an unkind formulation common in Israel, Tehran is prepared to “fight to the last Arab.”

Read more at Spectator

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria