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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Mysterious Case of the Missing Camels; or, WHAT could they have been smoking?

Well, it's time for another post, and this one is about camels--or the lack thereof. What's mysterious is not that the camels were missing, but that such a big deal was made of it.

Among the stories in the current news cycle is the discovery of camel bones associated with a mine in the Negev. Finding these bones, crow the discoverers, prove that the Bible isn't true after all.

Well, that's the short of it. The problem is that no camel bones have been found that provide evidence that Canaan had any camels during the time-frame that Abraham, Eliezar, and Rebecca were riding around on them. Therefore, the Bible was made up, and serves no historical purpose.

I thought of this when I ran across this story about a pair of adventurers who set out to prove that it's possible to cross the Empty Quarter without camels:
Hot, thirsty, frustrated and exhausted, British adventurers Alastair Humphreys and Leon McCarron were already feeling despair set in.
At this early stage of their expedition to trek across the Arabian Peninsula's forbidding and desolate Empty Quarter, however, the pair had got no further than the wet sands of the English seaside town of Margate.
Humphreys had hit on the idea of dragging their 300 kilograms of water and supplies for the 45-day 1,000-mile (1,609 km) expedition on a homemade steel cart, but as the pair labored to heave the heavily laden cart through the boggy sands of Margate on a test run, doubts were starting to set in.
"The purest way to have done the trip would have been camels but we couldn't afford it, so that ruled that out," Humphreys told CNN. "I liked the aspect of the cart because it made it a physical challenge which appeals to me.
So, I guess you can conclude that no camels were ever used in the Empty Quarter. Or maybe that no carts were. At any rate, you'd be wrong in either case.

In fact, evidence abounds for the use of domesticated camels in the Middle East early in the 2nd  millennium BC:
This article by Randall Youker, for example:
Some of this evidence includes a bronze figurine of a camel in a kneeling position found at Byblos and dated to the 19th/18th centuries BE; a gold camel figurine in a kneeling position from the 3rd Dynasty of Ur (2070-1960 BC); a petroglyph at Aswan in Egypt which shows a man leading a camel by a rope (writing next to the picture suggests its dates to 2423-2263 BC); and a figurine from Aabussir el Melek, Egypt showing a recumbent camel carrying a load (dated to the 3rd millennium BC).  To these examples, I can take pride in adding another that was discovered by myself (Younker 1997), along with colleagues, Dick and JoAnn Davidson (our children), William Shea and David Merling during an excursion into the Wadi Nasib in the Sinai during the month of July 1998.  There I noticed a petroglyph of a camel being led by a man not far from a stele of Ammenemes III and some famous proto-Sinaitic inscriptions discovered by Georg Gerster in 1961.  Based on the patina of the petroglyphs, the dates of the accompanying inscriptions and nearby archaeological remains it would seem that this camel petroglyph dates to the Late Bronze Age, probably not later than 1500 BC.  Clearly, scholars who have denied the presence of domesticated camels in the 2nd millennium BC have been committing the fallacy of arguing from silence.  This approach should not be allowed to cast doubt upon the veracity of any historical document, let alone Scripture.

Well, I may have more to add later, but that should suffice for now. Remember, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Only in this case, we even have the evidence.


  1. I learned a long time ago to never trust the "experts." (Especially when they're dealing with biblical matters.)

  2. A human trait is to not see what you don't want to see and not hear what you want to hear. Add to that the moral compass that is lacking in the modern pagan culture and truth becomes what you want at the moment. There are no human bones in my back yard, therefore no humans have ever lived here. Makes sense to me.

    Grace and peace.


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