COP26 promises to be an interesting event, but, is global warming the only current threat to humanity?
Archaeologists are creatures of habit, and as such they habitually record the position of magnetic north on archaeological drawings.
During research towards the Early Byzantine Christian Church the alignment of churches in the Levant in relation to magnetic north, as recorded on archaeological drawings, was noted together with the Byzantine date, if any, provided by inscriptions in mosaic pavements.
There is some evidence that new-build churches constructed within a few years of each other share the same alignment, and that through time the alignment of new-build churches changes in concert.
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Moreover, it was observed that a number of texts indicated that it fell to the local bishop to lay out the plan for new church buildings, and the alignment would be determined by the ‘finger of God’.
It is a working assumption that this refers to a magnetic compass, and, indeed, there is a contemporary sixth century reference from Procopius of Caesarea to sailing vessels relying on a magnetic compass to navigate at sea.
The working hypothesis then is that new-build churches during the Early Byzantine period serve as a palaeomagnetic record which tracks the wandering North Pole over time.
This is not a new phenomenon, and Duff (Holmes principles of physical geography, 1994, chapter 27) provides graphic evidence that the North Pole has staggered around during the last five hundred years of recorded history, and has on previous occasions reversed, such that the magnetic south pole appeared at the geographic North Pole, and the last occasion being some 20,000 years ago (figure 27.7).
In simple terms, if the working hypothesis is correct, then the archaeological record referred to above suggests that the Earth’s magnetic north pole was located in the vicinity of Japan during the sixth century, and well on its way to a full reversal, before it began moving to the geographical north again.
There is a notable recorded global cooling event during AD 536 that warrants further research.
Of course this working hypothesis has to be tested before any conclusions can be reached. However, the implications of these shifts in the magnetic north pole have not yet been fully researched, and it is quite possible they could have just as serious consequences for humanity as does global warming.
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