Jews and Camels

Camel bones suggest error in Bible, archaeologists say

Published February 06, 2014
  • Camel in the desert.jpg

    Archaeologists say they’ve pinpointed the domestication of camels in the Middle East — and the science directly contradicts dates in the Bible. ( / Jeremy A. Kaplan)

Archaeologists from Israel’s top university have used radiocarbon dating to pinpoint the arrival of domestic camels in the Middle East — and they say the science directly contradicts the Bible’s version of events.

Camels are mentioned as pack animals in the biblical stories of Abraham, Joseph and Jacob, Old Testament stories that historians peg to between 2000 and 1500 BC. But Erez Ben-Yosef and Lidar Sapir-Hen of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Archaeology and Near Eastern Cultures say camels weren’t domesticated in Israel until centuries later, more like 900 BC.               

‘This anachronism is direct proof that the [Bible’s] text was compiled well after the events it describes.’

– American Friends of Tel Aviv University

“In addition to challenging the Bible’s historicity, this anachronism is direct proof that the text was compiled well after the events it describes,” reads a press release announcing the research.

To find the first camel, Sapir-Hen and Ben-Yosef used radiocarbon dating to analyze the oldest known camel bones in the Arabian Peninsula, found at the remains of a copper smelting camp in the Aravah Valley, which runs along the border with Jordan from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea.

The bones were in archaeological layers dating from the last third of the 10th century BC or later — centuries after the patriarchs lived and decades after the Kingdom of David, according to the Bible, the researchers said. The few camel bones found in earlier archaeological layers probably belonged to wild camels, which archaeologists think lived there during 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 introduction of the camel to our region was a very important economic and social development,” Ben-Yosef said. “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.”

The arrival of domesticated camels promoted trade between Israel and exotic locations unreachable before, according to the researchers. Camels can travel over much longer distances than donkeys and mules, opening up trade routes like the Incense Road that stretched from Africa through Israel to India.

Categories: Uncategorized | 20 Comments

Post navigation

20 thoughts on “Jews and Camels

  1. Yeah, I saw this one. Interesting article, supports Finkelstein’s contentions in The Bible Unearthed.


  2. Thanks for your reply, Matt. I always enjoy reading your comments over at Nate’s Blog. And on your own blog as well. 🙂


  3. I concur with Matt.
    Great article, Ken.
    Maybe they wont need to find ‘Ultimate (non) evidence of the Exodus etc?

    One wonders, though, how much evidence will be required before that one , final straw trhat braks the camels back?


  4. Reblogged this on A Tale Unfolds and commented:
    “One Hump or Two?”
    Maybe ultimate proof that the Exodus did not happen may not be necessary after all?


    • I think the camel discovery along with the misinterpretation of Red Sea for Reed Sea AND the lack of any physical evidence that would have been left by at least 2 1/2 million people wandering around the desert should be enough to convince most people. But maybe not. 🙂


  5. Keith! I feel so embarrassed… I thought i was following your blog. Error now fixed.

    Yeah, the camels are a good one; one of many little blunders which when added together paints a fairly clear picture as to the date of the texts actual composition. I did a post on this, detailing all the little nuggets. Did you catch that one?


  6. Oh no. Well this just tears it. Evidence like this is just too much for my superstitious fear-based faith to overcome. Honestly.


    • I don’t think the article was meant to destroy anyone’s “superstitious fear-based faith” . It was meant to show the stories of the OT were written much later than thought .

      Thanks for stopping by. All comments are welcome here. With sarcasm or not. 🙂 And they are not subject to moderator approval first like many of the christian blogs I visit. 🙂


      • Well, you’d think those JEPD dudes would’ve done a better job at getting their facts straight before making up a major religion. But this evidence is certainly indisputable.


  7. I think where a lot of people “get it wrong” is that many of the OT stories are not to be considered “historically correct” . They were meant to be inspirational stories written by Jews for Jews.


    • That’s certainly the popular “academic” approach to it. Whether that’s correct or not depends on how much credence you’re willing to give to particular surveying, excavation and analysis of data collected about the past, based upon the collected assertions of anthropologists, historians, ethnologists, geographists(?), geologists, linguists, semiologists…


  8. I place a lot of credence on these professionals especially when some of them also happen to be Jewish Rabbis. I have a Torah Commentary called ETZ HAYIM. When you read the numerous essays by the Jewish scholars who wrote the commentary , and see how they refer to many of these OT Stories as “myth” , it’s kind of a wake up call . I know my Sunday school teachers nor my Pastor ever referred to OT Bible Stories as “myth”.


  9. @Quackzalcoatl

    I think this short video by Christian Scholars best explains these O.T. stories.


  10. I appreciate the level of scholarship which contradicts my own conclusions. It really comes down to the concept of “divine inspiration” and the level, if any, that the “divine author” played in all of these ancient manuscripts which comprise Scripture. Did the inspiration come from ancient writers as a cultural response, or did they receive a “higher knowledge”? Or perhaps a bit of both?


    • Having traveled throughout Egypt , Italy and Greece I have experienced first hand ancient cultures and the extent to which they built incredible monuments to the gods they worshiped. This is what caused me to question why christianity felt it was the exclusive path to god. I also found similar stories and symbols that were used by these cultures before they were written in the bible.

      I am not an atheist much to the dismay of some of my atheist friends. I was a christian for 50 years and evolved to a deist. I’m not sure there is a god but I believe there was a cause to the big bang whatever that might be.

      I am not trying to convince you to give up anything. I am simply sharing with you my experience and what led me to question things I was taught as a christian and the critical study I did and continue to do of the bible.

      I am on a continual quest for truth wherever it may lead me. I learn something new almost every day through reading and conversing with people like you.

      Thanks for taking the time to respond to my thoughts.



  11. You ask good questions, many of which have complicated answers which lead to still deeper questions. I appreciate the candor and the humility. There is certainly a lot of blind faith ignorance involved with Christianity, and religion in general, and for most I presume that works for them.

    If I wasn’t a Christian, I would likely be a deist as well. That’s something we can build on, at least…


  12. “There is certainly a lot of blind faith ignorance involved with Christianity”

    And I find it on blogsites hosted by Christian Clergy and Christian Educators . I guess because they make a statement they feel everyone should accept it because they said it. I find that arrogant and condescending.

    Thank you for not being like one of them.

    I visited a Christian minister’s blogsite today who was making the statement that Jesus’ Resurrection was fact. I quoted the resurrection stories from the 4 gospels and pointed out how all of them were different and in several cases Mary nor the disciples thought Jesus had been resurrected.

    I even suggested he read Geza Vermes’ book , “The Resurrection” Vermes was a Jew and at one time a Priest who it’s been said was the foremost Jesus authority of his time.

    After that he banned me from further comments. Go figure! Of course like other Christian Blogs I have visited (but not all) your comments “are awaiting moderator approval” before they are posted. How controlling is that !

    Sorry for ranting . 🙂


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

Chasing the Muses

Where are we going today?


short commentaries, pretty pictures and strong opinions


Travels in Paradise

The Consolation of Reading

A Book, Film, and Philosophy Blog in Search of Answers and Enjoyment

The Recovering Know It All

The Man who Learned Too Much and Lived to Tell

The Lonely Tribalist

Portland, Oregon | Est. 1993

Amusing Nonsense

Writings on Everything and Nothing

Applied Faith

For Christians Applying Faith to Daily Life

Freedom Through Empowerment

Taking ownership of your life brings power to make needed changes. True freedom begins with reliance on God to guide this process and provide what you need.

Victoria NeuroNotes

Into the Gray

Random thoughts

Random musings about everything.

Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

Nan's Notebook

Things I want to say about this, that, and the other thing.

Truth Is Elusive

Seeking clarity in the forest of life's big questions while the answers seem to enjoy hiding

Is there a God? (blog)

Reliable information for those asking life's big questions

Finding Truth

"For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." – Thomas Jefferson

%d bloggers like this: