With their newest research, Israeli archaeologists claim that the presence of domesticated camels in the Old Testament of the Bible represent “telling evidence that the Bible was written or edited long after its events and cannot be considered reliable as verifiable history” (The New York Times). Dr. Noam Mizrahi, an Israeli Bible scholar, likened the practice to a historical account of medieval events that veers off to a description of “how people in the Middle Ages used semitrailers in order to transport goods from one European kingdom to another.”
The archaeologists, Erez Ben-Yosef and Lidar Sapir-Hen, used radiocarbon dating to pinpoint the earliest known domesticated camels in Israel to the last third of the 10th century B.C.—centuries after the patriarchs lived and decades after the kingdom of David, according to the Bible. Some bones in deeper sediments, they said, probably belonged to wild camels that people hunted for their meat. Sapir-Hen could identify a domesticated animal by signs in leg bones that it had carried heavy loads. “
“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,” says Ben-Yosef.
The camel question is not a new one, and these archaeologists 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.
Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell with AnswersinGenesis.com explains that carbon-dating is typically calibrated by dates in Egyptian history, which “even most secular Egyptologists now agree that the traditional timeline of ancient Egypt history is in disarray. Thus, to claim accuracy “within decades” using a method that has been systematically afflicted with at least a six-century error is not reasonable.” Mitchell also reminds readers that “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,” who traveled from a northerly route and not via the established trade routes in the more westerly portion of the region.
Darrell L. Bock, senior research professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, wrote in a blog post this week that “one needs to realize that archaeology deals with recovered remains and the realization that we have not found everything that was (and surely will never recover most of what was). So how do we know these testifying camels are the earliest domesticated camels ever in Israel? We do not know that. It would be one thing to claim that the earliest evidence we NOW possess about domesticated camels goes back to the 10th century. But what we have now does not equal all there was, all of what may be out there, or even all we may one day come across.”
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