However, a closer look at the claims readily shows the Bible stands. That visit took place around BC. 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.
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 s 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 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.
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? They suggest that the camel-based economy became important after the rise of Egyptian power in the region. So how trustworthy are carbon dates for the times encompassed by the Old Testament?
Carbon dating for the times described in the Old Testament was calibrated in accordance with dates drawn from Egyptian history. 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. Carbon dating as calibrated by traditional Egyptian dates, however, has suffered. Problems with the Assumptions. 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.
When quizzing the past for its historical secrets, historians must rely on written accounts recorded by people who were there. 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.