All about camel domestication

All about camel domestication
Highlights

All about camel domestication. Camels are mentioned as pack animals in the biblical stories of Abraham, Joseph and Jacob.

London: In what is termed as a defining point in Israel's engagement with the rest of the world, new find suggests that camels were not domesticated in Israel until centuries after the Age of the Patriarchs (2000-1500 BCE).

Camels are mentioned as pack animals in the biblical stories of Abraham, Joseph and Jacob.

Archaeologists have earlier established that camels were probably domesticated in the Arabian Peninsula for use as pack animals sometime towards the end of the 2nd millennium BCE.

Now, archaeologists at Tel Aviv University's department of archaeology and near eastern cultures have used radiocarbon dating to pinpoint the moment when domesticated camels arrived in the southern Levant, where Israel is located, pushing the estimate from the 12th to the 9th century BCE.

“The introduction of the camel to our region was a very important economic and social development," said Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University.

According to researchers, camels opened Israel up to the world beyond the vast deserts, profoundly altering its economic and social history.

“By analysing 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,” he added.

To determine exactly when domesticated camels appeared in the southern Levant, Ben-Yosef and and colleague Lidar Sapir-Hen used radiocarbon dating and other techniques to analyse the findings from digs done in the Aravah Valley.

In all the digs, they found that camel bones were unearthed almost exclusively in archaeological layers dating from the last third of the 10th century BCE or later - centuries after the patriarchs lived and decades after the Kingdom of David, according to the Bible.

Notably, all the sites active in the 9th century in the Arava Valley had camel bones, but none of the sites that were active earlier contained them, said the findings published in the journal Tel Aviv.

The origin of the domesticated camel is probably the Arabian Peninsula, which borders the Aravah Valley and would have been a logical entry point for domesticated camels into the southern Levant.

In fact, Ben-Yosef and Sapir-Hen say the first domesticated camels ever to leave the Arabian Peninsula may now be buried in the Aravah Valley.

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