Geomagnetism Exploration of the Egyptian Archaeology: Thirty-Years of Success and Challenges

  • T. Abdallatif
  • H. H. Odah
  • A. E. El EmamEmail author
  • A. Mohsen
Part of the Natural Science in Archaeology book series (ARCHAEOLOGY)


The very long history of Egypt is a matter of attraction for many scientists, researchers from different countries all over the world. Egypt has many unexplored archeological sites. The archeologists know where to search, but they like to know where to dig.

The problem is: Traditional and random archaeological excavations consume more time, effort and Money. The best way is to explore the archeological remains using passive geophysical tools (e.g. magnetic and EM methods) without destroy or dig in the area.

The ancient Egyptian archaeological constructions are composed of different materials (e.g. Stone, mud, mortar, wood, Alabaster, granite, sandstone…etc.). Limestone and mud bricks are, however, basic materials in most of these constructions. Mud bricks are mainly composed of clay and mud extracted from the Nile River, and in some cases, they are mixed with a binding materials such as rice husks or straw. They were used to some extent in pre-Roman Egypt, and their use increased at the time of Roman influence.

Mud brick features within archaeological sites possess rather high magnetic properties than the surrounding soil. They are enriched with magnetic minerals (i.e. magnetite) that respond effectively to magnetic measurements. This indicates highly remanent and induced magnetization of the mud bricks, resulting in rather strong magnetic field, which can be measured by high-resolution instruments.

The application of geomagnetic in archaeological prospection has been begun in Egypt has started by pioneers (Hussein, 1983) after around 30 years of worldwide application. In the middle of Nineties (1990s) of the last century in Egypt, a new technology (i.e. magnetic gradiometry) with high speed and sampling rate, has proven to be ideal for near-surface mud bricks investigation, leading to real archaeological discoveries at different places in Egypt.

The present study aimed to analyze the development of archaeomagnetic prospection in Egypt during the last 30 years in order to assess the future directions and possible potential in this important aspect for an historical country like Egypt.

Seven examples from different districts in Egypt have been introduced to show the usage of magnetic gradiometry to explore the shallow structures made of mud bricks.


Magnetic gradimetry Processing sequence Statistical detection Mud bricks Cemetery Hawara Deahshour Egypt 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Abdallatif
    • 1
  • H. H. Odah
    • 1
  • A. E. El Emam
    • 1
    Email author
  • A. Mohsen
    • 1
  1. 1.National Research Institute of Astronomy and GeophysicsCairoEgypt

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