New research suggests domesticated camels arrived in the region now known as Israel between 930 and 900 BCE. What interested me about this result were two things: how the researchers narrowed the range of dates to just 30 years and the implications of this finding for people who treat the Bible as history book.
As to the first, it appears that the bones of camels started appearing in that region around the time of major advances in copper production there. This substantiates earlier work that suggested that camels were only domesticated in the first millennium BCE.
Archaeologists now wonder if the events are connected. After Egypt conquered the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, it may have reorganized the copper business and introduced camels as a more efficient means of transport than the donkeys and mules used previously.
This would have had huge economic and social consequences for the Levant, opening it to parts of the world that lay beyond vast deserts, to which it had never before been connected.
Camels were probably first domesticated in the Arabian Peninsula in the early first millennium B.C. Archaeologists base this date on mortality profiles of excavated skeletons, the gender of the animals, and lesions on leg bones that would have resulted from the repetitive stress of working as pack animals.
The problem for people who view the stories in the Bible as representing actual historical events is that those stories are shot through with people using camels for transport and as symbols of their wealth, going all the way back to Abraham whom, according to the biblical chronology, was chatted with god as far back as 1921 BCE. This supports the idea that almost all the stories in the Old Testament were written centuries later, with the writers simply assuming that the things they were familiar with, such as domesticated camels, had been around for a long time.