Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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An Archaeomagnetic Study of Hangi Stones in New Zealand

Version 2 2023-09-26, 01:34
Version 1 2021-11-22, 01:32
posted on 2023-09-26, 01:34 authored by Kinger, Rimpy

Burnt or fired archaeological artefacts often retain a record of the magnetic field in which they were last heated and cooled. Over the past four years we have collected oriented hangi stones from 10 archaeological sites spread across the North and South Islands of New Zealand. The stones vary in lithology from andesites, originating from the central North Island volcanoes, favoured by Maori for their durability and with remanent magnetization up to 30 A/m, to sandstones and schists from the main axial ranges, with magnetizations as weak as 10-4 A/m. Radiocarbon dating of charcoal fragments retrieved from amongst the stones indicates that the sites span from ca. 1400 AD to the present.  In all cases, we have independently oriented and retrieved several stones, and we have made several samples from each stone, either by drilling (standard cylindrical samples) or sawing (pseudo-cubes) in the laboratory. We have calculated site mean palaeomagnetic directions (Dec between 1.5o and 19.6o and Inc between -52.2o and -68.3o) from principal component analysis of thermal demagnetization and alternating field demagnetization data, discarding the data of stones that show evidence of disturbance after cooling. The directions are in good agreement with recently published palaeosecular variation records from lake sediments. We have carried out palaeointensity experiments using the Coe/Thellier method with pTRM and tail checks, and with selection criteria modified to the situation. Palaeointensities range from 50μT to 77μT. Rock magnetic experiments contribute to our understanding of the mineralogy, domain state and blocking temperature spectra.  We compare our data with predictions of the global field models ARCH3k and gufm1, and suggest that the addition of our new data will improve these models for the SW Pacific region for the most recent time period. Archaeomagnetic measurements are also used to date hangi sites by matching the palaeo-direction to an established archaeomagnetic dating model, NZPSV1k. Archaeomagnetic dating is used to resolve ambiguities in the calibration of radiocarbon dates, and shows up inconsistencies due to unreliable source material for radiocarbon dating. Archaeomagnetic dating and radiocarbon dating results are combined to give the best estimates of the best age of the hangi sites.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Doctor of Philosophy

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Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Chemical and Physical Sciences


Turner, Gillian; McFadgen, Bruce