The Iron Age in the northeast of the peninsula began earlier than previously thought

The Iron Age in the northeast of the peninsula began earlier than previously thought

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Some Phoenician amphorae found in the complex of San Jaume in Alcanar (Tarragona) suggest an age between 675-650 and 575/550 years to this First Iron Age settlement.

But nevertheless, a new archaeomagnetic study described in an investigation in which the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) and the Institute of Geosciences (UCM-CSIC) participate places in about one hundred years earlier, that is, in the 8th century BC, the beginning of the last Metal Age.

The Iron age It is the last of the Metals era and puts an end to prehistory. The results of this study, published in Archaeological and Anthropological Science, They also represent a preview of the transition between the Bronze and Iron Ages.

Although the researchers would need to confirm these results in other reservoir structures dating from the same period, "this is an important result because it implies that it is necessary to review the generally assumed settlement patterns in this region", highlights Miriam Gómez-Paccard, researcher of the Institute of Geosciences (UCM-CSIC).

Archeomagnetic dating

In addition to the UCM and the IGEO, the University of Barcelona and the University of Rennes (France) participate in the study. To arrive at these results, the researchers used the method archeomagnetic dating.

Archeomagnetism studies archaeological structures that have been subjected to high temperatures (such as ceramic amphoras) and determines the magnetic remanence acquired by archaeological samples during the last cooling of the structures.

“Due to different physical processes, this magnetic remanence is parallel to the Earth's magnetic field present at the moment of cooling. By comparing it with the variation curves of the Earth's magnetic field, the age interval of the moment of acquisition of remanence can be obtained at a certain level of confidence ”, explains Alicia Palencia-Ortas, researcher at the Faculty of Physical Sciences of the UCM, a member of the Paleomagnetism group and in whose laboratory the samples collected in the two sampling campaigns that were carried out were analyzed.

The application of this methodology supposes higher precision than the one most commonly used, radiocarbon dating, by overcoming the limitations that this prehistoric period presented due to the almost flat form of carbon reference that gave rise to "such extensive dating, of two or three centuries that hardly provide relevant information", the scientists conclude.

Bibliographic reference:

Miriam Gómez-Paccard, Mercedes Rivero-Montero, Annick Chauvin, David García i Rubert and Alicia Palencia-Ortas. “Revisiting the chronology of the Early Iron Age in the north-eastern Iberian Peninsula”. Archaeological and Anthropological Science. March 2019. DOI: 10.1007 / s12520-019-00812-9.

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