The proton magnetometer consists of a coil surrounding a proton-rich material such as a cylinder of paraffin / kerosene. A measurable electric current is induced in the coil by the realignment of the protons in the paraffin as the magnetometer passes through a changing magnetic field.
Proton magnetometer in Archaeology
According to Christopher S. Peebles (Glenn A. Blaclc Laboratory of Archaeology, Indiana University, Bloomington, Geophysics at the Angel Site: Past, Present, and Future, "in 1958, Black and Mr. Eli Lilly, following the work of M. J. Aitken and his associates at the Oxford University (UK) Archaeometric Laboratory, used proton magnetometers to locate and map buried archaeological features. Magnetometers measure minute differences in the magnetic field of the earth caused by ferrous concentrations (and iron objects) in the soil, thermo-remnant magnetism of fired clays, and differences in the magnetic susceptibility of disturbed soils. In 1959, with the support of the Indiana Historical Society, Black rented a general purpose magnetometer. It proved a bit better from previous magnetometers for locating very large features, but it was not really suited to archaeological work. In 1959 with the support of the Society, Black purchased a magnetometer built specifically for archaeological work from the Oxford Archaeometric Laboratory".
"In 1961 and in 1963 the National Science Foundation awarded funds to Black and to the Indiana Historical Society to evaluate the magnetometer as a tool for archaeological research. During 1961-1963, more than 100,000 square feet of the Angel site were surveyed and more than 7,000 square feet were excavated, in order to match anomalous magnetometer readings with the archaeological features that produced those readings. For the most part the strategy was to locate and follow the course of the stockade trench, but other features, such as houses, fire basins, and pits, were sought and located as well. This work, which was the first systematic use of a proton magnetometer for archaeological research in North America, was reported by both Johnston and by Black".
- Black, G. A. and Johnston, R. B., "A Test of Magnetometry as an Aid to Archaeology," American Antiquity, Vol. 28, pp. 199-205, 1962.
- Black, G. A., Angel Site: An Archaeological Historical, and Ethnological Study, 2 vols., Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, 1967.
- Johnston, R. B., "Proton Magnetometry and its Application to Archaeology: An Evaluation at Angel Site," Indiana Historical Society, Prehistory Research Series, Vol. IV, No. II, 1962.