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After World War II, geologists developed the paleomagnetic dating technique to measure the movements of the magnetic north pole over geologic time. Robert Dubois introduced this new absolute dating technique to archaeology as archaeomagnetic dating.

This heating, or firing, process resets the iron particles in the clay.By using another dating method (dendrochonology, radiocarbon dating) to obtain the absolute date of an archaeological feature (such as a hearth), and measuring the direction of magnetism and wander in the clay today, it is possible to determine the location of the magnetic north pole at the time this clay was last fired.This is called the virtual geomagnetic pole or VGP.When lava and clay are heated, or lake and ocean sediments settle through the water, they acquire a magnetization parallel to the Earth's magnetic field.After they cool or settle, they maintain this magnetization, unless they are reheated or disturbed.

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