Bad news for biblical literalists: Recent research conducted by two Tel Aviv University archaeologists shows that camels weren’t domesticated in the eastern Mediterranean until the 10th century B.C., centuries after they appear in the Hebrew Bible.
The study, as reported in National Geographic by Jewniverse contributor Mairav Zonszein, explains that researchers were primarily concerned with the arrival of domesticated camels to Israel’s Aravah Valley, and that the biblical timeline was not the focus of their research.
The camel, or dromedary, is mentioned in the Bible 47 times, in passages such as Genesis 24:11: “And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water.” Popular belief is that the Bible’s stories took place between 2000 and 1500 B.C., but now we know that camels weren’t exactly in the neighborhood at the time.
This certainly isn’t the first time the biblical narrative diverges from the archeological record. A 2010 discovery all but proved that the Israelites didn’t build the Egyptian pyramids after all. “No Jews built the pyramids,” said one Hebrew University archeologist, “because Jews didn’t exist at the period when the pyramids were built.”
Add it to the list of topics to fight about during this year’s Passover Seder.