While there continues to be disagreement about the correct dates for events in Egypt’s history, revisions to the traditional Egyptian timeline have been largely in the direction of agreement with the Bible’s accounts.
Carbon dating as calibrated by traditional Egyptian dates, however, has suffered.4 In addition to the historically fuzzy dates by which carbon dates were calibrated, the interpretation of carbon dates suffers from the same sorts of assumptions affecting other radiometric methods.
Traditional Egyptian chronology was developed in the 19th century, and for a long time it was the only archaeological yardstick available to date the history of other ancient near eastern people.
However, later datable discoveries in other ancient civilizations were not reconcilable with traditional Egyptian chronology.
“Our results have direct implications on dating the beginning of the Arabian trade and the many related economic and social phenomena.” Sapir-Hen and Ben-Yosef write.
“As most probably significant trade between southern Arabia and the Levant was not feasible before the use of camels as pack animals, it could not have commenced before the last third of the 10th century BCE.” In examining the challenge based on these copper-mined carbon dates, we need to consider both the calibration of the technique and the historical context of the claims.
“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.” Because carbon-dated camel bones abruptly appear in the strata of the ancient copper mines in the region, Sapir-Hen and Ben-Yosef report they “have used radiocarbon dating to pinpoint the moment when domesticated camels arrived in the southern Levant, pushing the estimate from the 12th to the 9th century BCE.Camels would probably have been better able to meet mine-related transport demands than donkeys or mules.Camels were well-suited to handle the rigors of long journeys along Middle Eastern trade routes.They became a vital part of the economic strength of the region described in the Old Testament.But when did they begin making their contribution to the economic health of the lands at the crossroads of three great continents?