Tag Archives: Prof. JoAnn Davidson

Despite what Lidar Sapir-Hen and Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University say CAMELS DID EXIST DURING THE TIME OF THE OLD TESTAMENT!!!!

The Bible and Archaeology (1/5)

The Bible maintains several characteristics that prove it is from God. One of those is the fact that the Bible is accurate in every one of its details. The field of archaeology brings to light this amazing accuracy and Kyle Butt does a great job of showing that in this film series he did on “The Bible and Archaeology.”

_________________________-

Camels did exist in the Old Testament!!!!Dr. Lidar Sapir-Hen and Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University contend that Camels did not exist during the time of the Old Testament. Yet evidence continues to amass that camel domestication was widely known earlier. Randall Younker adds Late Bronze Age I petroglyphs (Greek = rock/carving) depicting domesticated camels from the Sinai to that evidence. What about the dating of the bones used by Dr.Lidar Sapir-Hen and Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University in this case on the camel? Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell takes them to task in the article “The Bible Wins the Debate with Carbon-Dated Bones.” Furthermore, there is evidence that points to the fact that the Bible is historically true as Francis Schaeffer pointed out in episode 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACEThere is a basis then for faith in Christ alone for our eternal hope. This link shows how to do that.

I have read several posts by others who have attacked some of the basic assumptions of the Lidar Sapir-Hen and Erez Ben-Yosef study on Camels. Here is the article critical of the Bible followed by evidence that camels did exist in the Old Testament.

2/12/2014 @ 2:46PM |3,291 views

‘Camels Don’t Belong In The Old Testament’

Early tales of domesticated camels in the Old Testament don’t belong there, say archaeologists in a new blow to Biblical literalists. Tame Camelus dromedarius were not brought to the Levant until centuries after Abraham, Joseph and Jacob, who lived between 2000BC and 1500BC, and decades after the fall of the Kingdom of David.

Dr Lidar Sapir-Hen and Dr Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University used radiocarbon dating and other techniques to place the arrival of domestic camels at around 900BC. Their article was published in Tel Aviv, Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University.

Camels are mentioned at least 20 times in the Old Testament. Genesis 24:10, for example, tells how Abraham’s senior servant set off to find a wife for his master’s son, Isaac: “Then the servant left, taking with him ten of his master’s camels loaded with all kinds of good things from his master.”

And Genesis 31:17 tells of Jacob’s flight from his uncle and father-in-law, Laban: “Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels.”

“In addition to challenging the Bible’s historicity, this anachronism is direct proof that the text was compiled well after the events it describes,” theuniversity said.

A team led by Drs Sapir-Hen and Ben-Yosef have found the oldest known signs of domesticated camels in an ancient, copper-mining area on the border between Israel and Jordan, from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea.

“By analysing 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,” said Dr Ben-Yosef.

Older camel bones were found in the valley, but the scientists believe they were from wild camels. None of them were associated with copper-mining sites.

Scientists think the animals were first domesticated in the Arabian Peninsula, close to the Aravah valley, over the previous century.

While the discovery is unlikely to trouble those who believe in the literal truth of the Bible, others will find it changes their view of what life was like in the Holy land three thousand years ago.

The appearance of camels as beasts of burden was as dramatic in its way as the first railways were in the industrial era.

“The introduction of the camel to our region was a very important economic and social development,” Dr Ben-Yosef said. Used as pack animals, they opened up trade routes – such as the incense road from Africa to India, named after the frankincense and myrrh that were among its major cargos – that were beyond the range of mules and donkeys.

Pharaoh Shoshenq I (Shishak in the Hebrew bible), who invaded the Kingdom of Israel between 926 and 917 BC, is thought to have brought the camels. The Egyptians are also thought to have introduced more sophisticated technology and centralised labour.

________________

The Bible and Archaeology (2/5)

Response to Skeptics about Camels:

Bronze Age Camel Petroglyphs In The Wadi Nasib, Sinai

Mar 02, 2009 – by Randall W Younker

This article was first published in the Summer 2000 issue of Bible and Spade.

Most scholars believe camels were not domesticated until the end of the second millenium BC. Yet evidence continues to amass that camel domestication was widely known earlier. Randall Younker adds Late Bronze Age I petroglyphs (Greek = rock/carving) depicting domesticated camels from the Sinai to that evidence.

Introduction

In July 1998, a small party of colleagues from Andrews University,1 undertook an expedition to Wadi Nasib (the valley of the stone altar) to visit Proto-Sinaitic Inscriptions found by Dr. Georg Gerster in 1961 (Gerster 1961: 62; Albright 1966: 3).2 The inscriptions are located on the vertical face of a large rock on the north side of the pass, through the N-S running ridge that serves as the eastern boundary of the Wadi Nasib. The pass itself is at the head of a tributary wadi of the Wadi Nasib that is located immediately east of the bedouin cemetery of Bir Nasib. The settlement of Bir Nasib, proper, is located just to the south of the cemetery. Just east of the cemetery there is a trail (actually several meandering trails) which climb eastward along the edge of this tributary up to the cut or pass. The Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions were easy to find and were found to be still in the same state of preservation as when Gerster first found them.

Visiting the Proto-Sinaitic Inscriptions

The actual reading of the inscriptions has been a matter of some discussion. Albright (1966) failed to recognize the fourth column as belonging to the inscription and tried to make sense of only the remaining three. Albright’s transcription was: ‘D ‘[L]T[N] L H B[R] [N]H ‘LW. He translated the inscription as “O father E[l], gra[nt] to Heber re[st] beside him!” Rainey (1975), who was able to personally examine the inscription, subsequently noted that there is a fourth column that Albright ignored or overlooked. Also, he modified the readings of a few of the characters. Rainey’s reading of the whole text is: [B]RKT / ‘D[‘] / RB HWT / W L ‘H[ … ] or Blessing(s) (on/of) ‘Ad(d)a’, chief of the stockades(s), arid (on/of) ‘h[ … ]. Other scholars have proposed still other variant readings (e.g., Shea 1987).

Two meters (six ft) to the right of Gerster No. 1, however, is an Egyptian rock-inscription in the form of a stele from the 20th year of Ammenemes III (Gardiner and Peat 1952; pl. XIV; no.46; 1955: 76).3 This inscription is quite weathered and the surviving portion measures only 20 x 23 cm. It is clear that the inscription was originally written in three horizontal lines of hieroglyphics at the top, while the lower part was divided into six vertical columns. It is these six vertical columns that have pretty much eroded away. The translation of Gardiner and Peet of the surviving top portion of the inscription reads, “Year 20 under the majesty of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt Nema’re’, son of Re’ Ammenemes, living like Re’ eternally” (Gardiner and Peet 1955: 76).

The camel’s anatomy led to its value and domestication. Its hump serves for fat storage and probably developed as a body-heater. For water storage, the animal has several sac-shaped extensions in its stomach where liquid can be retained for a long period. Even today camels are bred in the Near East and sell for up to $2,000 each.
About 20 cm (2.5 in) to the right of the Ammenemes III stele is the second, brief Proto-Sinaitic inscription (Gerster No. 2).’ Only two characters and part of a third have survived the ravages of time. The two discernable characters include the bull’s head (aleph) and the zigzag (mem). Obviously, there is too little of this inscription to make out a coherent translation. Like Gerster No. 1, this second Proto-Sinaitic inscription is later than the Ammenemes III stele. It is better preserved and the patina is lighter than the Ammenemes III inscription, indicating that Proto-Sinaitic was carved more recently. Most scholars agree that based on the style of the characters and the color of the patina, both Gerster Nos. 1 and 2 are contemporary.

The date of the Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions has also been a matter of some discussion. Originally, it was thought that they should be dated to the Middle Kingdom. This date seemed to make sense in view of the presence of the Ammenemes III stele (Gardiner 1962). Currently, however; most scholars seem to agree that these should be dated later to the New Kingdom’s Eighteenth Dynasty, i.e. the Late Bronze Age in archaeological terminology. This is because additional examples of this script which were subsequently found in Israel at Shechem, Gezer, and Lachish, appear to be older in that they appear to be associated with an archaeological context dating to the 17th-16th centuries BC and they are drawn more realistically (i.e., primitively). The characters of the Bir Nasib inscriptions, on the other hand, are drawn in a more schematized form suggesting some streamlining of the pictographs through time. Most scholars thus accept a date in the 15th century BC for the Proto-Siniatic inscriptions (Naveh 1987: 26).4

The Bible and Archaeology (3/5)

Discovery of Camel Petroglyphs

After examining and photographing the Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions and the Ammenemes III stele, I stepped back to look at the rest of the rock. Generally not mentioned in the reports of the inscriptions is the presence of a number of petroglyphs found on the same rock face near the inscriptions. From the color of patina and the close association with the inscriptions, it appeared that the petroglyphs generally span the same time period as the Ammenemes III and Proto-Siniatic inscriptions. As I examined the petroglyphs, I followed the rock face to the right (east) 2 or 3 m (6–9 ft) until I could look down the other side of the pass. As I continued to scan the petroglyphs, I suddenly noticed a couple of distinctive animal petroglyphs—camels—that were represented as walking caravan style across the rock to the right (easterly direction). The camels are about .15—.20 m (6–8 in) high and .20—.25 m (8–10 in) in length. The camel figures were quite distinctive, although the first camel (to the right) had been somewhat defaced by later engravings. The trailing camel, however, was not defaced or eroded, so it is quite distinct. The long neck, large head and single hump of the dromedary can easily be made out. What made the camel petroglyphs even more interesting was the presence of human figures in association with them. The lead camel appears to be followed by a walking man. A second walking man is clearly leading the trailing camel. The petroglyphs certainly are depicting domesticated camels.

Dating The Camel Petroglyphs

Petroglyphs are, of course, notoriously difficult to date.

In the same rock face where the Gerster inscriptions and the Ammenemes III stela are found, the author noted additional petroglyphs nearby. Seldom mentioned in reports of the inscriptions, among these petroglyphs is a camel caravan. Seen here is the second camel in the caravan, a single humped dromedary about .15—.20 m (6–8 in) high and .20—.25 m (8–10 in) long, being led by a man. It certainly depicts domesticated camels. Difficult to date, the author proposes a date around 1500 BC. While this is earlier than most scholars date camel domestication, it agrees with Biblical references.

One way is to note the archaeological evidence for human activity in this region. In this case we have a record of activity from the Middle kingdom down to the New Kingdom of Egypt. Archaeologically, the peak of activity in this region was during the 12th and 18th Dynasties of Egypt. There is evidence for later activity during the 19th and 20th Dynasties over at Serabit el-Khadem, although this was at a reduced scale when compared with the earlier periods of activity. At Wadi Nasib proper, there is presently no evidence for activity later than ca. 1500 BC during the Late Bronze Age. This wadi is somewhat isolated and was probably not the main route between Serabit el-Khadem and Egypt. Rather, this route likely had a more restricted use, perhaps connecting the mines with the smelting area (Gardiner and Peet 1955: 5, 30). Perhaps camels were used to bring ore to the smelting area.

A second way of dating is to attempt to reconstruct the sequence of rock engravings (e.g., Anati 1968). The amount of erosion and the color of tile patina of the camel petroglyphs are close to that of the Proto-Sinaitic inscriptionS, providing yet another small bit of evidence that the two are roughly contemporaneous. That the camels are not the latest rock engravings is indicated by a bit of defacing or attempts to draw new characters over the outline of the lead camel.

A third, and perhaps best, way to date a petroglyph is when it is accompanied by inscriptional evidence. In the case of the Wadi Nasib camel petroglyph, we have already noted at least two datable inscriptions that appear on the same rock face. The first is the rock stele of Ammenemes III of the 12th Dynasty. The second inscription is the Proto-Sinaitic inscription known as Gerster Inscription I. As noted, there is virtually universal agreement that these inscriptions date to the 15th century BC, about the transition from the Late Bronze Age I to Late Bronze Age IIA. The date of the inscriptional evidence at Wadi Nasib correlates precisely with the archaeological data that show that the peak of activity was during the 12th and 18th Dynasties of Egypt. There is evidence for later activity during the 19th and 20th Dynasties over at Serabit el-Khadem, although this was at a reduced scale when compared with the earlier expeditions. At Wadi Nasib proper, there is presently no evidence for activity later than ca. 1500 BC.

Taking all three lines of evidence together, it seems quite reasonable to date the camel petroglyph to about the middle of the period of peak activity in this region at nearby Serabit el-Khadem. That is, around 1500 BC.

The Ammenemes III stela. This very weathered Egyptian rock-inscription has three horizontal lines of heiroglyphics at the top and six vertical columns below. The surviving top portion speaks of the 20th year of Ammenemes III, a 12th Dynasty ruler (19th century BC). Dating this inscription helps determine the date of the adjacent camel petroglyphs.

The Bible and Archaeology (4/5)

Implications of the Wadi Nasib Camel Petroglyphs

The possibility that these camel petroglyphs are contemporary with the mining activity at Serabit el-Khadem provides new insights into the copper and turquoise industry with regard to transport of the mined materials. Previously, it has been assumed that donkeys were the primary mode of transporting copper and turquoise from the mining centers back to Egypt. Certainly donkeys were used. However, this petroglyph suggests that camels were in use, too. Indeed, these two camels could represent a small caravan (full size representations of a camel caravan have been recently found at Petra). Camels would be ideally suited for transporting loads of copper and turquoise. Keep in mind that part of the trail crosses over sandy stretches. Camels cannot only travel across sand easier; they carry twice the load of a donkey, move faster and need less feeding and watering (Davis 1987: 166). There does not appear to be a load on the back of the camels, although this may not be surprising since the camels are shown as headed in the direction toward Serabit el-Khadem and may not have picked up their loads [of ore?] as yet. Another possibility is that these camels were employed locally and may have just dropped off loads of ore near the smelting center in Wadi Nasib and are just returning to Serabit el-Khadem, a few miles to the east, to pick up more ore.

These camel petroglyphs also have implications for the history of camel domestication as well as their historicity in the Biblical text. There continue to be some scholars who follow Albright’s skepticism (1942; 1945; 1949: 207) that references to camels in the patriarchal narratives are anachronistic (e.g. Koehler-Rollefson 1993: 183). However, there is now a growing body of scholars who believe that camel domestication must have occurred earlier than previously thought (prior to the 12th century BC) and that the patriarchal narratives accurately reflect this (e.g., Ripinsky 1984; Coote and Whitelam 1987: 102; Zarins 1992: 826; Borowski 1998: 112–18).5 This is not to say that domesticated camels were abundant and widely used everywhere in the ancient Near East in the early second millennium. However, the patriarchal narratives do not necessarily require large numbers of animals. As Borowski (1998: 118) notes, the Biblical evidence indicates that the camel was used primarily as a pack and riding animal during patriarchal times. These data do not require large herds associated with later camel breeding nomads. In this regard, Gottwald (1974; 1978) is correct in not characterizing the patriarchs as pastoral nomads, camel or otherwise. Indeed, the Hebrews had a prohibition against eating camel meat (cf Lv 11:4; Dt 14:1) which probably extended to the drinking of camel milk (Davis 1986: 147). Thus, the patriarchs were not likely keeping large herds of camels for subsistence, the tradition of later camel nomads. Rather, camels were used in relatively smaller numbers, primarily as pack and riding animals. The smaller amount of evidence for domestic camels in the late second millennium BC, especially in Palestine, is in accordance with this more restricted use.

The camel petroglyph from the Wadi Nasib, nevertheless, adds to the growing body of evidence for the use of domesticated camels (albeit on a modest scale) in the ancient Near East prior to the 12th century BC. Borowski, Zarin, and others, thus appear to be correct in not dismissing the reference to camels in the patriarchal narratives as merely anachronistic.

The Bible and Archaeology (5/5)

Footnotes:

1. The party included the author, Dr. William Shea, Dr. Richard Davidson, Prof. JoAnn Davidson, Dr. David Merling, Devin Zinke, Rahel Davidson, John Davidson, Rebecca Younker, and Michael Younker.

2. Gerster notified William Albright about the Wadi Nasib inscriptions on March 7, 1960. The inscriptions were initially published by J. Leibovitch in Le Museon 74 (1961). They were also commented on by Sir Alan Gardiner in the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, and by Albright himself, in his small volume entitled The Proto-Sinaitic Inscriptions and Their Decipherment (Harvard University Press, 1966: 28–29).

3. Immediately to the right of the Gerster text No. 1, Albright thought there was the outline of a rectangular panel with a rounded corner and a cartouche which appears to enclose the name of Sekhem-re’-khu-tawi, the 15th pharaoh of the 13th Dynasty who ruled over three years (ca. 1760 BC). However, Rainey doubts this reading (Rainey 1975: 108).

4. There was originally some confusion on the precise spatial relationship of Gerster No. 2 and the Ammenemes III stele. The original artist’s depiction, from which Gardiner worked, showed the bull’s head as directly under the Ammenemes III stele. In actuality it is about 20 cm to the right (Gardiner 1962: 45–46).

5. This discovery evokes a parallel found at Aswan, Egypt, that also depicts a man leading a camel by a rope. This petroglyph was originally described by Georg Schweinfurth in 1912 (see picture and discussion of this petroglyph in Ripinsky 1983: 27 and 1984: 139). Again, the petroglyph can possibly be dated by an accompanying inscription. The inscription is hieratic and was dated by Moeller to 2423–2263 BC (Sixth Dynasty), making it considerably older than the Wadi Nasib camel petroglyph (ibid.).

Bibliography

Albright, W. F.
1942 Archaeology and the Religion of Israel. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins.
1945 Review of J. P. Free’s Camel Article. Journal of Biblical Literature 64: 287–88.
1949 The Archaeology of Palestine. Penguin Books, Harmondsworth: Middlesex.
1966 The Proto-Sinaitic Inscriptions and Their Decipherment (Harvard Theological Studies, 22). Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

Anati, E.
1968 Rock-Art in Central Arabia: The Oval-headed People of Arabia. Universite’ de Lovain: Institut Orientaliste.

Borowski, C.
1998 Every Living Thing: Daily Use of Animals in Ancient Israel. Walnut Creek CA: AltaMira Press.

Bulliet, R.
1975 The Camel and the Wheel. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

Caesar, Stephen A. The Wealth and Power of the Biblical PatriarchsBible and Spade, Winter 2006.

Coote, R., and Whitelam, K. W.
1987 The Emergence of Early Israel in Historical Perspective. Sheffield, England: Almond Press.

Cross, F. M.
1967 The Origin and Early Evolution of the Alphabet. Eretz Israel 8: 10.

Davis, J. J.
1986 The Camel in Biblical Narratives. A Tribute to Gleason Archer: Essays on the Old Testament, eds. W. C. Kaiser, Jr, and R. F. Youngblood. Chicago IL: Moody Press.

Gardiner, A. H.
1962 Once Again, the Proto-Sinaitic Inscriptions. Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 48:45–48.

Gardiner, A. H., and Peet; T. E.
1952 The Inscriptions of Sinai. Vol. 1. London: Egypt Exploration Society.
1955 The Inscriptions of Sinai. Vol 2. London: Egypt Exploration Society.

Gerster, G.
1961 Sinai. Germany: Darmstadt.

Gottwald, N.
1974 Were the Early Israelites Pastoral Nomads. Pp. 223–55 in Rhetorical Criticism: Essays in Honor of James Muilenburg, eds. J. J. Jackson and M. Kessler. Pittsburgh Theological Monograph Series 1. Pittsburgh: Pickwick.
1978 Were the Early Israelites Pastoral Nomads? Biblical Archaeological Review 4: 2–7.

Koehler-Rollefson, I.
1993 Camels and Camel Pastoralism in Arabia. Biblical Archaeologist 56.4: 180–88.

Leibovitch, J.
1961 Deux nouvelles inscriptions protosinaitiques. Le Museon 74: 461–66.

Neveh, J.
1987 Early History of the Alphabet (revised ed.) Jerusalem: Magnes Press.

Petrie, F.
1906 Researches in Sinai. London: John Murrey.

Rainey, A.
1975 Notes on Some Proto-Sinaitic Inscriptions. Israel Exploration Journal 25: 106–16.

Ripinsky, M.
1974 The Camel in the Archaeology of North Africa and the Nile Valley. Popular Archaeology 3.6: 7.
1975 The Camel in Ancient Arabia. Antiquity 49: 196.
1983 Camel Ancestry and Domestication in Egypt and the Sahara. Archaeology 36.3: 21–27.
1984 The Camel in Dynastic Egypt. Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 70: 134–141.

Shea, W. H.
1987 New Light on the Exodus and on Construction of the Tabernacle: Gerster’s Protosinaitic Inscription No. 1. Andrews University Seminary Studies 25.1: 73–96.

Zarins, J.
1978 The Camel in Ancient Arabia: A Further Note. Antiquity 52: 44–46.
1992 Camel. Pp. 824–36 in The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. 1, ed. D.N. Freedman. New York: Doubleday.

Reprinted by permission from Near East Archaeological Society Bulletin 42 (1997).

___________

What about the dating of the bones used by Dr.Lidar Sapir-Hen and Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University in this case on the camel? Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell takes them to task in the article “The Bible Wins the Debate with Carbon-Dated Bones.”

FOX News: Camel bones suggest error in Bible, archaeologists say

“There is a book . . .” Ken Ham reminded Nye at the recent debate, and the Bible’s history is history we can trust.

Several times during the recent Nye-Ham Debate, Ken Ham referred to history recorded in the Bible to answer questions Nye called “great mysteries.” Recent statements springing from camel bones in ancient copper mines south of the Dead Sea have challenged the historicity of the Bible. However, a closer look at the claims readily shows the Bible stands.

Archaeologists claim camels weren’t domesticated in the Middle East until a millennium after the Bible records their use. God’s Word records Abraham had camels with him when he visited Egypt (Genesis 12:16)? That visit took place around 1900 BC.

The Camel Question

Tel Aviv University archaeologists Lidar Sapir-Hen and Erez Ben-Yosef, who have been exploring ancient Aravah Valley copper mines between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, decided to take a crack at the camel question. The camel question is not a new one, and they are not the first to dispute the Bible’s historical accounts of camels. Sapir-Hen and Ben-Yosef are the first, however, to publish a study dogmatically drawing down the numerical power of carbon dating upon the biblical accounts.

Even though the Bible describes the use of camels by Abraham, Joseph, and Jacob, some modern liberal scholars insist the camel did not achieve importance as a pack animal until the early Iron Age, and not before the 12th century BC.1 According to a press release from the American Friends of Tel Aviv University (AFTAU), “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.”2

mapThis NASA aerial photo from eBibleTeacher.com has Abraham’s travels to Canaan, to Egypt, and back traced in red. As documented in the Bible, Abraham continued to live nomadically in Canaan for the rest of his life. The ancient Aravah Valley copper mines, from which camel bones were recently dated to the 900s BC, are far to the east of the area where Abraham lived. The camel bones may mark the later importance of camel-dependent trade routes between the Arabian Peninsula (to the right, east, on the map) and the land nearer the Mediterranean. The absence of camel bones datable to the time of Abraham (around 1900 BC) in these copper mines, however, does not mean that Abraham and his contemporaries did not use camels as pack animals just as the Bible describes. Image: www.ebibleteacher.com

Camels—Ships Of The Desert

The Aravah Valley was an important place in the economy of the Middle East by the time of King Solomon, and trade routes naturally traversed the area. The copper mines of the valley are thought to have been on trade routes between the Arabian Peninsula and the settled lands nearer the Mediterranean. Camels would probably have been better able to meet mine-related transport demands than donkeys or mules.

Camels were well-suited to handle the rigors of long journeys along Middle Eastern trade routes. They became a vital part of the economic strength of the region described in the Old Testament. But when did they begin making their contribution to the economic health of the lands at the crossroads of three great continents?

Carbon-dated Camel Bones

“The introduction of the camel to our region was a very important economic and social development,” Ben-Yosef says. “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.”

Because carbon-dated camel bones abruptly appear in the strata of the ancient copper mines in the region, Sapir-Hen and Ben-Yosef report they “have used radiocarbon dating to pinpoint the moment when domesticated camels arrived in the southern Levant, pushing the estimate from the 12th to the 9th century BCE. The findings,” according to the AFTAU, “further emphasize the disagreements between Biblical texts and verifiable history.”

The carbon dates assigned to the Aravah Valley camel bones—the late 900s BC—are decades too late to have been left there during the time of Kings David and Solomon, according to Sapir-Hen and Ben-Yosef, and they are centuries too late to confirm a domesticated camel presence during Abraham’s day. They suggest that the camel-based economy became important after the rise of Egyptian power in the region.

“Our results have direct implications on dating the beginning of the Arabian trade and the many related economic and social phenomena.” Sapir-Hen and Ben-Yosef write. “As most probably significant trade between southern Arabia and the Levant was not feasible before the use of camels as pack animals, it could not have commenced before the last third of the 10th century BCE.”

Considering The Challenge

In examining the challenge based on these copper-mined carbon dates, we need to consider both the calibration of the technique and the historical context of the claims. Clearly the AFTAU assumes the Bible’s history is neither historically accurate nor verifiable. In this instance, they are defining “verifiable” as that which can be assigned a scientifically trustworthy date. So how trustworthy are carbon dates for the times encompassed by the Old Testament?

Like all clocks, the “clock of carbon-dating” must be calibrated. Unfortunately, carbon dating for the times described in the Old Testament was calibrated in accordance with dates drawn from Egyptian history.

Even most secular Egyptologists now agree that the traditional timeline of ancient Egypt history is in disarray. Traditional Egyptian chronology was developed in the 19th century, and for a long time it was the only archaeological yardstick available to date the history of other ancient near eastern people. However, later datable discoveries in other ancient civilizations were not reconcilable with traditional Egyptian chronology. While there continues to be disagreement about the correct dates for events in Egypt’s history, revisions to the traditional Egyptian timeline have been largely in the direction of agreement with the Bible’s accounts.

Carbon dating as calibrated by traditional Egyptian dates, however, has suffered.3 In addition to the historically fuzzy dates by which carbon dates were calibrated, the interpretation of carbon dates suffers from the same sorts of assumptions affecting other radiometric methods. (Read more about it in “Carbon-14 Dating—Understanding the Basics” and “Radiometric Dating: Problems with the Assumptions.”) Thus, to claim accuracy “within decades” using a method that has been systematically afflicted with at least a six century error (see footnote #3) is not reasonable. This study should in no way lead anyone to suspect the economy of King Solomon’s Israel was any less magnificent and internationally significant than that described in the Bible.

Camels Here, Camels There, But Necessarily Camels Everywhere

Yet even beyond the technical issues with the dating methods, could there be other reasons that might allow for the presence of domestic camels in the herds of Abraham while they were not yet a prominent feature between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba? A look at the map should make the answer clear.

There is no reason to assume that the abrupt appearance of camel bones at a certain level in the copper mining region of the southern Aravah Valley precludes their use as pack animals by Abraham and his nomadic neighbors. Abraham entered the Levant from a northerly route, visited Egypt, and returned to the Levant where he remained the rest of his life. Whether or not camel-dependent trade routes across the Aravah Valley into the Arabian Peninsula were yet established has no bearing on the use of camels by people in the more westerly portions of the Levant. And while Egypt’s domination of the region after the time of Solomon could well have resulted in more intensive use of camels through the valley, that also in no way demonstrates that camels weren’t used as pack animals elsewhere in the Levant for millennia before that.

Anachronistic Camels?

When quizzing the past for its historical secrets, historians must rely on written accounts recorded by people who were there. So-called “higher critics” of the Bible, however, have since the 19th century claimed that the history of the Old Testament was written centuries after the writers claim to have written down God’s Word under His inspiration. This was the only way those critics who did (and do) not believe in God’s power to prophesy of coming events could explain away the accuracy of God’s historical predictions. The claim by the AFTAU that these carbon-dated camel bones prove the Hebrew writers were just trying to create a great history for their nation is just more of the same. But, as we can see from the history of carbon dating’s fallible calibration as well as the historical geography evident from a quick look at a map, there is no reason to question the reliability of God’s Word.

For more information:

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • Last week we saw design inherent in fish and birds, as well as design economy and the effects of the sin-curse in scorpions.
  • This week, we’ll have a fascinating look at both genetics and developmental biology and, again, how they point to an awesome Creator. And who knows what else will be in the News?

For more information: Get Answers


Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! (note: if the story originates from the Associated Press, FOX News, MSNBC, the New York Times, or another major national media outlet, we will most likely have already heard about it.) And thanks to all of our readers who have submitted great news tips to us. If you didn’t catch all the latest News to Know, why not take a look to see what you’ve missed?

(Please note that links will take you directly to the source. Answers in Genesis is not responsible for content on the websites to which we refer. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.)

Related posts:

John MacArthur on fulfilled prophecy from the Bible Part 2

I have posted many of the sermons by John MacArthur. He is a great bible teacher and this sermon below is another great message. His series on the Book of Proverbs was outstanding too.  I also have posted several of the visits MacArthur made to Larry King’s Show. One of two most popular posts I […]

John MacArthur on fulfilled prophecy from the Bible Part 1

I have posted many of the sermons by John MacArthur. He is a great bible teacher and this sermon below is another great message. His series on the Book of Proverbs was outstanding too.  I also have posted several of the visits MacArthur made to Larry King’s Show. One of two most popular posts I […]

Adrian Rogers: “Why I believe the Bible is true”

Adrian Rogers – How you can be certain the Bible is the word of God Great article by Adrian Rogers. What evidence is there that the Bible is in fact God’s Word? I want to give you five reasons to affirm the Bible is the Word of God. First, I believe the Bible is the […]

Easter weekend 2013, List of posts on series: Is the Bible historically accurate? (Updated 1 through 14C)

“In Christ Alone” music video featuring scenes from “The Passion of the Christ”. It is sung by Lou Fellingham of Phatfish and the writer of the hymn is Stuart Townend. On this Easter weekend 2013 there is no other better time to take a look at the truth and accuracy of the Bible.    Is the […]

Evidence for the Bible (Updated)

The Bible and Archaeology (1/5) The Bible maintains several characteristics that prove it is from God. One of those is the fact that the Bible is accurate in every one of its details. The field of archaeology brings to light this amazing accuracy. _________________________- Many people have questioned the accuracy of the Bible, but I […]

John MacArthur on Larry King Live Part 4 The Bible on War

Larry King – Dr. John MacArthur vs. “father” Manning Uploaded on Sep 26, 2011 GotoThisSite.org ___________ I have seen John MacArthur on Larry King Show many times and I thought you would like to see some of these episodes. I have posted several of John MacArthur’s sermons in the past and my favorite is his […]

Book of Mormon is not historically accurate, but Bible is (Part 33)

The Book of Mormon vs The Bible, Part 7 of an indepth study of Latter Day Saints Archeology The Book of Mormon verses The Bible, Part 7 of an indepth study With the great vast amounts of evidence we find in the Bible through archeology, why is there no evidence for anything written in the […]

“Is God Enough?” Fellowship Bible sermon outline by Mark Henry July 8, 2012

Many times as Christians we look at the world and we notice that many of the righteous are suffering and many of the wicked are prospering. It may cause a believer to question that there is a just God. It really gets us back to the basics. What is true success? Is God enough for […]

Book of Mormon is not historically accurate, but Bible is (Part 32) (What are the Dead Sea Scrolls?)

The Book of Mormon vs The Bible, Part 6 of an indepth study of Latter Day Saints Archeology The Book of Mormon verses The Bible, Part 6 of an indepth study With the great vast amounts of evidence we find in the Bible through archeology, why is there no evidence for anything writte in the Book […]

Book of Mormon is not historically accurate, but Bible is (Part 31)

The Book of Mormon vs The Bible, Part 5 of an indepth study of Latter Day Saints Archeology The Book of Mormon verses The Bible, Part 5 of an indepth study With the great vast amounts of evidence we find in the Bible through archeology, why is there no evidence for anything writte in the […]