Archaeologists pinpoint the date when domesticated camels arrived in Israel

Feb 03, 2014
Archaeologists pinpoint the date when domesticated camels arrived in Israel

Camels are mentioned as pack animals in the biblical stories of Abraham, Joseph, and Jacob. But archaeologists have shown that camels were not domesticated in the Land of Israel until centuries after the Age of the Patriarchs (2000-1500 BCE). In addition to challenging the Bible's historicity, this anachronism is direct proof that the text was compiled well after the events it describes.

Now Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef and Dr. Lidar Sapir-Hen of Tel Aviv University's Department of Archaeology and Near Eastern Cultures have used radiocarbon dating to pinpoint the moment when domesticated arrived in the southern Levant, pushing the estimate from the 12th to the 9th century BCE. The findings, published recently in the journal Tel Aviv, further emphasize the disagreements between Biblical texts and verifiable history, and define a turning point in Israel's engagement with the rest of the world.

"The introduction of the camel to our region was a very important economic and social development," said Dr. Ben-Yosef. "By analyzing archaeological evidence from the copper production sites of the Aravah Valley, we were able to estimate the date of this event in terms of decades rather than centuries."

Copper mining and camel riding

Archaeologists have established that camels were probably domesticated in the Arabian Peninsula for use as pack animals sometime towards the end of the 2nd millennium BCE. In the southern Levant, where Israel is located, the oldest known domesticated camel bones are from the Aravah Valley, which runs along the Israeli-Jordanian border from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea and was an ancient center of copper production. At a 2009 dig, Dr. Ben-Yosef dated an Aravah Valley copper smelting camp where the domesticated camel bones were found to the 11th to 9th century BCE. In 2013, he led another dig in the area.

To determine exactly when domesticated camels appeared in the southern Levant, Dr. Sapir-Hen and Dr. Ben-Yosef used radiocarbon dating and other techniques to analyze the findings of these digs as well as several others done in the valley. In all the digs, they found that camel bones were unearthed almost exclusively in archaeological layers dating from the last third of the 10th century BCE or later – centuries after the patriarchs lived and decades after the Kingdom of David, according to the Bible. The few camel bones found in earlier archaeological layers probably belonged to wild camels, which archaeologists think were in the southern Levant from the Neolithic period or even earlier. Notably, all the sites active in the 9th century in the Arava Valley had camel bones, but none of the sites that were active earlier contained them.

The appearance of domesticated camels in the Aravah Valley appears to coincide with dramatic changes in the local copper mining operation. Many of the mines and smelting sites were shut down; those that remained active began using more centralized labor and sophisticated technology, according to the archaeological evidence. The researchers say the ancient Egyptians may have imposed these changes – and brought in domesticated camels – after conquering the area in a military campaign mentioned in both biblical and Egyptian sources.

Humping it to India

The origin of the domesticated camel is probably the Arabian Peninsula, which borders the Aravah Valley and would have been a logical entry point for domesticated camels into the southern Levant. In fact, Dr. Ben-Yosef and Dr. Sapir-Hen say the first domesticated camels ever to leave the Arabian Peninsula may now be buried in the Aravah Valley.

The arrival of domesticated camels promoted trade between Israel and exotic locations unreachable before, according to the researchers; the camels can travel over much longer distances than the donkeys and mules that preceded them. By the seventh century BCE, trade routes like the Incense Road stretched all the way from Africa through Israel to India. Camels opened Israel up to the world beyond the vast deserts, researchers say, profoundly altering its economic and social history.

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tadchem
3.4 / 5 (8) Feb 03, 2014
Non sequitur. Sapir-Hen and Ben-Yosef have been able to establish a strong association between camels and the local copper industry as early as the 11th century BCE. This suggests that the camels were domesticated. In the early period of camel domestication the skeletal remains of domesticated camels would have been almost impossible to distinguish from those of wild specimens.
Unless they can establish that these or other earlier sites that would have produced commodities for international trade did not have camels, their conclusion that there were no camels before this date is not supported.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.5 / 5 (8) Feb 03, 2014
No they make the distinction.

"The few camel bones found in earlier archaeological layers probably belonged to wild camels... Notably, all the sites active in the 9th century in the Arava Valley had camel bones, but none of the sites that were active earlier contained them."

-IOW there were no camels in the levant when the bible says there were.

If this were the only mistake found in the bible perhaps we could let god slide. But in addition we find that there were no philistines around when abraham was said to have met them. Nor were there ever any 2M jews in goshen, nor did they ever wander around a thoroughly egyptian-occupied sinai, nor did anyone named joshua ever lead them on a genocidal rampage through a thoroughly egyptian-occupied canaan.

Nor did they go on to found great kingdoms ruled by anybody named solomon or david.

Archeology tells us these things are lies. And so prudence dictates that biblical historicity be considered false until evidence indicates otherwise.
orti
5 / 5 (3) Feb 03, 2014
Otto, getting a little carried away with your unfounded assertions aren't you? Archeology does not tell us these things are lies. In many of your citings, archeology is silent. And in at least one, you are wrong. 2008 and later excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa on the Judah/Philistia border have refuted biblical minimalists such as Israel Finkelstein regarding the time and reality of Davidic Israel. (Yosef Garfinkel, "The Birth and Death of Biblical Minimalism", Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 2011). Can you prove that camel domestication is irreversible?
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.3 / 5 (6) Feb 03, 2014
Lies.

"Tel Aviv University archaeologist Ze'ev Herzog wrote in the Haaretz newspaper:
This is what archaeologists have learned from their excavations in the Land of Israel: the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel. Perhaps even harder to swallow is that the united monarchy of David and Solomon, which is described by the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom. And it will come as an unpleasant shock to many that the God of Israel, YHWH, had a female consort and that the early Israelite religion adopted monotheism only in the waning period of the monarchy and not at Mount Sinai."

-And you continue to tell them. This is a sin, no?
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.3 / 5 (6) Feb 03, 2014
2008 and later excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa on the Judah/Philistia border have refuted biblical minimalists such as Israel Finkelstein regarding the time and reality of Davidic Israel.
More lies.

"The claim that the larger structure may be ONE OF King David's palaces led to significant media coverage, while skeptics accused the archaeologists of sensationalism. Aren Maeir, an archaeologist at Bar Ilan University, pointed out that existence of King David's monarchy is still unproven and some scholars believe the buildings could be Philistine or Canaanite."

-This rich and powerful kingdom is supposed to have stretched from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates and to rival the kingdoms around it. We have plenty of evidence for THEM... but none whatsoever for either David or Solomon.

This absence is itself damning evidence, as people have been searching the region for a century and have found ONLY contrary evidence.
Sinister1812
5 / 5 (3) Feb 03, 2014
And today they are found across the middle east, India, northern Africa and Australia. We owe a lot to these animals.
orti
not rated yet Feb 03, 2014
Actually, I think the article you refer to was from 1999, (Khirbet Qeiyafa findings were 2008 and later). And, Herzog is somewhat notorious for being at odds with other archeologists.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.3 / 5 (6) Feb 03, 2014
Per your use of the word 'refuted'
refuted biblical minimalists such as Israel Finkelstein regarding the time and reality of Davidic Israel. (Yosef Garfinkel, "The Birth and Death of Biblical Minimalism", Biblical Archaeology Review
-Religionist eureka moments do not qualify as refutation and are easily discounted by objective science.

"From such a careless and overblown writer the accusation that minimalists have "groundless arguments masquerading as scientific writing" is pretty laughable. I don't mind him enjoying his private illusion, nor his wishful thinking, and I don't even mind the bitterness of his rhetoric because it is so evidently hollow and from someone unable to distinguish truth from fact and unable to comprehend the position he claims to declare at an end."
-Emeritus Professor Philip Davies
University of Sheffield, England
December 2011
http://www.biblei...19.shtml
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.7 / 5 (7) Feb 03, 2014
And, Herzog is somewhat notorious for being at odds with other archeologists.
You left out some words.

"And, Herzog is somewhat notorious for being at odds with other archeologists whose motivations are primarily religious and political and who BEGIN their research with the understanding that the bible is the utter truth as it IS gods word isn't it?"

-Did you know that god thought rabbits have cuds? I wonder where he got THAT idea?
RoMiSo
5 / 5 (5) Feb 04, 2014
Nothing new here.
According to Israel Finkelstein, who co authored at least a decade ago "The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts", with Neil Asher Silberman:
"We now know through archaeological research that camels were not domesticated as beasts of burden earlier than the late second millennium and were not widely used in that capacity in the ancient Near East until well after 1000 BCE", p. 37.
orti
1 / 5 (1) Feb 05, 2014
Perhaps the authors are overreaching.
{
The Bactrian camel is thought to have been domesticated (independently of the dromedary) sometime before 2500 BCE,[16] in Northeast Afghanistan,[16] or southwestern Turkestan.[17] The dromedary camel is believed to have been domesticated between 4000 BCE and 2000 BCE[18] in Arabia.
[16] ^ Jump up to: a b "camel", Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. accessed 11 February 2007.
[17] Jump up ^ Myths About Camels, The Hatch Report.com.
[18] Jump up ^ Al-Swailem, et al. Classification of Saudi Arabian camel (Camelus dromedarius) subtypes based on RAPD technique., Journal of Food, Agriculture and Environment, Vol.5 (1) : 143–148. 2007.
}
http://en.wikiped...n_camels

TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (2) Feb 05, 2014
Perhaps the authors are overreaching
Perhaps you are reluctant to admit that the bible is full of nonsense. Which it most obviously is.

Your god wrote the bible. He also created the world. Why don't they match? Which are you going to believe - the world, or books full of mistakes, contradictions, adulterations, myths, plagiarisms, graffiti, forgeries, and LIES?

Time to accept reality before your superstitions destroy the world and obliterate the evidence.
orti
3 / 5 (2) Feb 05, 2014
OK Otto, since you want to bring up theology, let me suggest a couple of things.

If you care to, try KA Kitchen "On the Reliability of the Old Testament", 2003, $25 at Amazon.

Try reading the Bible for yourself – don't take what someone else says as gospel. I like things like Job, Proverbs, Isaiah, John, etc.

Do a little thought exercise: Where did all this wisdom come from – 3000 years ago?

Take a crack at the old question: "Is there a reason why there is something (space, time, matter, energy, life) instead of nothing?" How did all these things that we can't even comprehend come about? Did they really appear from nothing?
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (2) Feb 05, 2014
Try reading the Bible for yourself
Well Ive read it in different versions and I dare say that I know a lot more about it than you because I have not been persuaded to ignore the nasty bits. I also read what it says and not what it is supposed to say.
Where did all this wisdom come from – 3000 years ago?
What wisdom is that - that the sun orbits the earth? Even greeks back then knew this wasnt true. But the church suppressed this knowledge in favor of geocentrism.

Or are you referring to the idea that sickness is caused by evil spirits? Or that the earths rotation could be stopped so that joshua could slaughter the amorites at his leisure? What WISDOM do find in the bible? God was even confused about the order of creation.
http://skepticsan...nts.html

-And the NIV editors tried to conceal this by changing the tenses. There should be a hell for LIARS like that to burn in.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (2) Feb 05, 2014
Take a crack at the old question: "Is there a reason why there is something (space, time, matter, energy, life) instead of nothing?" How did all these things that we can't even comprehend come about? Did they really appear from nothing?
Thats NOT a proper question. If there was or is some deistic creator god then he is most assuredly NOT the theistic god of the bible. Archeology, physics, geology, and bible exegesis have all thoroughly disproved THAT one.

If there are gods, only science is capable of finding them. Here is hitchens explaining the difference between theism and deism.
http://www.youtub...YqCtHoIw

You can keep asking your rigged questions generated by your universal answer all you want. But thinking people need not fall for them any more.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.5 / 5 (2) Feb 05, 2014
things like Job
Yeah this is funny. A story about a poor chap whom god had tortured by proxy just to find out how much he LOVED him. This is somewhat similar, but of a much smaller scale, than the idea that god would remove ALL the evidence for his bible stories and replace it with evidence that those things could not possibly have happened.

Your god would torture you and kill your family to find out how much you love him. He would LIE to you to find out how much you TRUST him. He would promise you eternal life in john 3:16 to get you to accept that all unbelievers CANNOT be good, in john 3:18-21.

If satan were real (he isnt), instead of appearing as a scary red guy with horns, wouldnt he instead appear as the goodest, kindest, most wonderful guy you could imagine? Wouldnt he promise to grant all your wishes and give you eternal life in return for a few favors now and again? Like - killing apostates, slaughtering tutsi vermin, burning jews in pogrom after pogrom etc.
orti
3 / 5 (2) Feb 06, 2014
Otto, Hitchens' answers don't matter, yours do. When the chips are down, he won't be there, you will. When He gave us choice, He gave us significance. And He also gave us Himself. Did you miss the whole point of Job and the rest?
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (2) Feb 06, 2014
Did you miss the whole point of Job
You religionists thrive on the words of others. You settle for the interpretations of scriptures your preachers give you rather than reading them yourselves with a critical eye.

Of course it matters what hitchens and others have said about your religions. They give us the chance of freedom from religious bigotry and oppression. They show us how the books are full of lies which enables us to decide whether those promises we find in them can be trusted.

You say that Job is an example of faith. I say it is an example of a beast torturing its prey. How can you possibly put your faith and trust in a god who needs to do those sorts of things to people? Who makes it exceedingly difficult to believe in him, and then sends all who understandably can't, to burn for eternity?
And He also gave us Himself
No, again, the book says he sent his son to be the subject of human sacrifice. Proxy. An ancient PAGAN ritual, as is the cannibal Eucharist.
orti
3 / 5 (2) Feb 07, 2014
Otto, Freedom to do it your way is slavery to "doing it your way". Ask any addict, then check out 2 Cor 3:17.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (2) Feb 07, 2014
Otto, Freedom to do it your way is slavery to "doing it your way". Ask any addict, then check out 2 Cor 3:17.
Well let's ask god what he thinks about slavery.

" However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)"

-What makes you think that 'freedom' can come from a book which contains such depravity?

If you don't love your god with heart and soul he will burn you forever. Is this what you call freedom?

"When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are."
http://www.polarisproject.org
orti
not rated yet Feb 08, 2014
Otto, Mentioning wrong and limiting it is not endorsing it. Maybe you and your mentors just quit reading when you find what you want.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Feb 08, 2014
Maybe you and your mentors just quit reading when you find what you want.
Me ft? Did you know the stuff about slavery and stoning insolent children and wayward women and apostates was in your book? Did it ever come up in church?

Who loves to recite john 3:16 which guarantees eternal bliss but leaves out 18-21 which guarantees eternal torture for evil unbelievers?

Xians lie to themselves and to each other and to the world. 'God taught us to lie saying...' You can't even post under your primary user name.

You're all compulsive, unrepentant, liars. Your book teaches you that any of its commandments can be broken in service to your god, and then explains exactly how to go about doing this. And it guarantees to forgive any sin if you only ask, leaving you and countless priests free to commit the most grievous sins with a clear conscience.

Religious books are all evil and the people who believe in them cannot help but commit evil in their name.
orti
not rated yet Feb 09, 2014
Otto. You're confusing Christianity with a religion, either the one that Dawkins learned not to offend or the one he advocated (antitheism – reign-of-terror, Stalin, Nazism, Mao, Pol Pot, mass infanticide, etc).
Instead of living life as those who see it as a gift do, you've chosen to stay under the bridge annoying them as they pass. So sad.