Science: Search for Sybaris

Did the ancient Greeks have outside toilets? Up-to-date archaeologists interested in esoteric problems heard last week about a handy way of finding answers to such questions—for a latrine's humus-rich contents have magnetic properties that vary from the earth around them.

The clever instrument that can tell the difference was the hit of an erudite conference that met at Venice to discuss new methods of archaeology. Called a proton magnetometer, the gadget is based on a principle of nuclear physics discovered only a few years ago. The nuclei of hydrogen atoms (protons) are, in effect, tiny magnets, and they line up like compass...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!