Dromedary drama: Scientific dating of camel clashes with Bible


“He loaded ten of Abraham’s camels with all kinds of expensive gifts,” we’re told in Genesis. Unfortunately, archaeologists at Tel Aviv University have used radiocarbon dating to reveal an anachronism: Camels were not domesticated in the southern Levant until 900 B.C.

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

Abraham and other the other patriarchs of the Old Testament lived from about 2,000 to 1,500 B.C.

This means that although the Bible stories may have been part of an oral tradition, they were not written down until the domestication of the camel.

Abraham probably relied on the good-old donkey or mule.

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