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Friday, 21 February 2014
Camel Gate
Topic: Archaeology


O.K., I likely should have blogged about this when the article first came out, but as I understand it, Camel Gate continues.  Well, that may not be what the scholarly community calls it but it's fitting considering the topic.  In the article below (to which I have provided a link), the archaeologists contend tha the Bible is in error about Abraham and other earlier patriarchs owning camels, and that according to their research, camels were not domesticated until the 10th (maybe the 11th) century B.C.  I would advise reading the brief article, but here is my rebuttal.


Alright, let's say camels weren't domesticated in he Levant until the 1oth century B.C.  My response is......SO WHAT, actually a BIG FAT SO WHAT.  How does that prove that the Biblical narrative about Abraham is in error?  The only caveat/counter I would offer my colleagues is that just because there may not have been domesticated camels before the 11th c. BC, doesn't mean that desert peoples didn't use tame ones.  Domestication implies captive breeding, where taming relies on existing wild populations.  Consider the use of elephants in India as pack animals.  They are tame but decidedly not domesticated.  Handbal's war elephants likewise.  Ancient Egyptians tamed cheetahs and hiyenas for assistance in hunting (we know this from iconography). The onager was wild ass used by ancient Sumerians and Levantines, and modern Asians as draft animals, but is by no means domesticated.  They are temperamental and like to bite.....kind of like some camels.  Jared Diamond has the best explanation of the difference between domesticated and time I've ever read.  See GUNS, GERMS, AND STEEL.  The work in question is valuable, but doesn't really disprove the use of camels by Levantines in the Old Testament before c. 900 BC.

Here is another link that sheds light on Camel Gate, an interview sound cip and transcript with one of the ascholars working on the data from the sites in question.  OH, THE HUMANITY.  This is what happens when scholars become too myopic in their focus on a particular--in this case archaeological and chronological--problem.


Posted by Professorburton at 8:29 PM CST
Updated: Friday, 21 February 2014 8:45 PM CST

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