Camel Bones Challenge the Bible's Timeline

Study: It was written much later than the events it describes

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 6, 2014 7:36 AM CST

(Newser) – A set of bones—and not human ones, at that—is "challenging the Bible's historicity," say two Tel-Aviv University researchers. Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef and Dr. Lidar Sapir-Hen have carbon-dated the oldest known domesticated camel bones found in the southern Levant, where Israel sits, and what they discovered is that the creatures were likely introduced to the region around the 9th century BC. And that doesn't sync with the timing of the Bible, which features the pack animals as being present centuries earlier, in the Patriarch-era of Abraham, Joseph, and Jacob, which ran from roughly 2000 to 1500 BC.

"This anachronism is direct proof that the text was compiled well after the events it describes," per a press release on the study. And the dating is much more precise than what was previously calculated, explains Ben-Yosef: "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." What they found was that copper sites active in the region in the 9th century BC contained camel bones, but none of the ones active earlier did; the earliest archaeological layer to contain them dated to the last third of the 10th century BC. The Times of Israel notes that domesticated camels didn't originate in that region, however; that honor goes to the Arabian peninsula, which is believed to have used them as pack animals since 2000 BC. Egyptians probably introduced them to Israel.

  (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
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