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Thread: Camels in Genesis

  1. #11
    tWebber Quantum Weirdness's Avatar
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    This is relevant. N.B.

    Quote
    " This entire process, it has been argued, took place without the benefit of camel transport, the camels making their appearance only at a much later date from parts unknown. But it has been demonstrated that the camel was already in use during the period in question and that its probable homeland was southern Arabia. It is much more reasonable, therefore, to assume that the camel was the main carrier on the incense route from the very beginning, or nearly so, and that the Semitic tribes of the north came to know the camel in this way in very small numbers. In other words, the presence of camels in the Abraham story can be defended and the story treated as primary evidence of camel use without disputing Albright's contention that camel-breeding nomads did not exist in Syria and northern Arabia at that time."
    -The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine.
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    tWebber Teallaura's Avatar
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    Didn't get past the 'it's silly' bit, did you?

    It really does take a different level of tech to use heavy packs - a tree, preferably. Egyptians having said tech (evidenced, per you, by the presense of camels showing signs of heavy load) doesn't equal the Israelites (Hebrews/early Patriarchs/however we're refering to them today) having the same tech (Egyptians guarded the chariot tech pretty closely - packing tech is also a tactical advantage so they probably weren't sharing a lot). Hence you can have two groups with the same animals domesticated, but entirely different patterns of use. So no, it doesn't prove no domestic camels, just no camels found that were heavy pack animals.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quantum Weirdness View Post
    This is relevant. N.B.

    Quote
    " This entire process, it has been argued, took place without the benefit of camel transport, the camels making their appearance only at a much later date from parts unknown. But it has been demonstrated that the camel was already in use during the period in question and that its probable homeland was southern Arabia. It is much more reasonable, therefore, to assume that the camel was the main carrier on the incense route from the very beginning, or nearly so, and that the Semitic tribes of the north came to know the camel in this way in very small numbers. In other words, the presence of camels in the Abraham story can be defended and the story treated as primary evidence of camel use without disputing Albright's contention that camel-breeding nomads did not exist in Syria and northern Arabia at that time."
    Best to go to the original.

    People can come up with arguments to justify anything. Whether those arguments are sensible, logical, or remotely realistic is another matter. But this is yet another case where faith is impervious to evidence. If you are comfortable with that, then all is well. If you ever become uncomfortable with that, it is still quite feasible to discard literalism and yet retain your faith. Plenty of others have done so.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Teallaura View Post
    Didn't get past the 'it's silly' bit, did you?
    I did, but felt it would be rude to point out the projection.

    It really does take a different level of tech to use heavy packs - a tree, preferably. Egyptians having said tech (evidenced, per you, by the presense of camels showing signs of heavy load) doesn't equal the Israelites (Hebrews/early Patriarchs/however we're refering to them today) having the same tech (Egyptians guarded the chariot tech pretty closely - packing tech is also a tactical advantage so they probably weren't sharing a lot). Hence you can have two groups with the same animals domesticated, but entirely different patterns of use. So no, it doesn't prove no domestic camels, just no camels found that were heavy pack animals.
    How much does a saddle weigh? Add in the weight of a rider, and whatever they may carry with them. You're dealing with "heavy pack animals" when you deal with riding, as well as when you're dealing with carrying freight.

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    tWebber Teallaura's Avatar
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    You do realize that you're now making no sense at all, right?

    The study doesn't support the 'the Bible got it wrong' thing - a point you were in partial agreement with. So why the tangetial and insulting 'well, y'all just gonna believe whatever you want to no matter what' when QW merely cites something that solves the purported problem? Who's really clinging to belief in that case?

    I know enough about horses and saddlery - and their history - to know that if you don't have pack saddles you don't have the heaviest packs (not possible - this doesn't change for camels). Looking specifically for heavy loads makes sense from the perspective of being able to distinguish the animals - but none from the historical perspective because saddlery develops at very different paces (heck, the stirrup is one of the last things to develop!). No pack saddle = lighter loads - quite possibly too light to easily distinguish in a couple bones from a long dead animal. So, yeah, it tells us something about heavy packing - but doesn't tells us diddly about light usage.

    QW brings in a completely different point (I sorta danced around it myself but he hits it directly) - they didn't have to have the same number of camels as another area more used to camel usage to still have domestic camels present and in use. A tiny sample wouldn't leave much of a historic footprint even if they did have the saddlery. Bones, like saddles, don't usually survive thousands of years to lend themselves to being analyzed, so fewer camels makes finding the few domestic, heavy pack camels (presuming they existed) less likely.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Teallaura View Post
    You do realize that you're now making no sense at all, right?
    It's easy to dismiss disagreement as "making no sense." It seems to be far more difficult to answer a direct question. But as with QW, if you are comfortable letting belief over-ride evidence, then enjoy your comfort.

    And enjoy your day.

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    tWebber Teallaura's Avatar
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    If they aren't finding heavy pack camels then they probably didn't have pack saddles - more likely than they didn't have camels at all given that the animals were known (according now to you and QW's quote) in period. Forget the saddle weight - without the tree it's hard to impossible to get an animal to carry really heavy loads (hard to fasten safely, chafes like crazy, distribution is difficult - pack animals can carry more with a pack saddle than without one and more safely as well).

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    tWebber Teallaura's Avatar
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    And if you prefer blindly presuming evidentiary sufficiency where it is clearly lacking, then enjoy your comfort.

    Have a nice day.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quantum Weirdness View Post
    This is relevant. N.B.

    Quote
    " This entire process, it has been argued, took place without the benefit of camel transport, the camels making their appearance only at a much later date from parts unknown. But it has been demonstrated that the camel was already in use during the period in question and that its probable homeland was southern Arabia. It is much more reasonable, therefore, to assume that the camel was the main carrier on the incense route from the very beginning, or nearly so, and that the Semitic tribes of the north came to know the camel in this way in very small numbers. In other words, the presence of camels in the Abraham story can be defended and the story treated as primary evidence of camel use without disputing Albright's contention that camel-breeding nomads did not exist in Syria and northern Arabia at that time."
    And here is a more scholarly article that supports the same thing. To summarize: evidence from inscriptions, drawings, and figurines show that camels had been domesticated in the ancient near east (ANE) by 2000 BC. Domesticated camels were known in Iran, Turkmenistan, and Egypt by this time. It is reasonable to assume that they would have been used on the major E-W trade routes that passed through Palestine. If so, it is reasonable that the Patriarchs could have purchased domesticated camels from these traders, even if there were no camel breeding and domestication efforts in Palestine itself. The Patriarchs were few in number and were nomadic, so there is no expectation that we would find archaeological evidence of camel use specifically from them.

  10. #20
    tWebber Quantum Weirdness's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Outis View Post
    Best to go to the original.

    People can come up with arguments to justify anything. Whether those arguments are sensible, logical, or remotely realistic is another matter. But this is yet another case where faith is impervious to evidence. If you are comfortable with that, then all is well. If you ever become uncomfortable with that, it is still quite feasible to discard literalism and yet retain your faith. Plenty of others have done so.
    He quotes Bulliet a fair bit and points to some other scholars who support an earlier domestication of the camel. As far as I know, Miller isn't known to misrepresent the data of scholars.

    Quoting Miller

    " Bulliet is carefully skeptical of most ancient artifacts that allegedly purport to demonstrate the early usage of the camel, as a couple of quotes will show:

    "To be sure, one or two representations of camels from early Mesopotamia have been alleged, but they are all either doubtfully camelline, as the horsy looking clay plaque from the third dynasty of Ur (2345-2308 B.C.), or else not obviously domestic and hence possibly depictions of wild animals, as in the case with the occasional Ubaid and Uruk period (4000-3000 B.C.) examples" [HI:TCAW:46]

    "These five pieces of evidence, needless to say, may not convince everyone that the domestic camel was known in Egypt and the Middle East on an occasional basis between 2500 and 1400 B.C. Other early depictions, alleged to be of camels, which look to my eyes like dogs, donkeys, horses, dragons or even pelicans, might be more convincing to some than the examples described above." [HT:TCAW:64]

    So, in light of this careful approach, the pieces of strong evidence that he advances that he does consider convincing are all the more substantial. He describes the evidence on pp. 60-64 of his book.

    • A 3.5 ft cord of camel hair from Egypt, dated around 2500 BC. Buillet believes it is "from the land of Punt, perhaps the possession of a slave or captive, and from a domestic camel"

    • The bronze figurine from the temple of Byblos in Lebanon. It is in a foundation with strong Egyptian flavoring, and is dated before the sixth Egyptian dynasty (before 2182 BC). Although the figure could be taken as a sheep, the figure is arranged with items that would strongly require it to be a camel (e.g., a camel saddle, camel muzzle, etc.)

    • Two pots of Egyptian provenance were found in Greece and Crete, both dating 1800-1400 BC, but both in area so far removed from the range of the camel as to suggest its presence in the intermediate areas (e.g., Syria or Egypt) during an earlier time. Both have camels represented, and one literally has humans riding on a camel back.

    • A final piece of strong evidence is textual from Alalakh in Syria, as opposed to archaeological: a textual ration-list. There is a entry for 'camel fodder' written in Old Babylonian. "Not only does this attest the existence of camels in norther Syria at this time, but the animal involved is clearly domestic." [HI:TCAW:64].


    Other ANE/Egyptian expert's advance other/similar evidences for early domestication as well, such as Cyrus Gordon and Kenneth Kitchen:


    "Abraham did not want his son to marry a Canaanite, so he sent his servant to Paddan Aram (as the Haran region of north Mesopotamia is called) to secure a bride for Isaac. With ten camels and adequate personnel, the servant heads the caravan towards his master's Aramean kinsmen. The mention of camels here and elsewhere in the patriarchal narratives often is considered anachronistic. However, the correctness of the Bible is supported by the representation of camel riding on seal cylinders of precisely this period from northern Mesopotamia" [Gordon/Rendsburg, in BANE:120-12]. (They refer the reader to the illustrations in the journal Iraq 6, 1939, pl. II, p. And to the general discussion in Journal of Near Eastern Studies 3, 1944, pp. 187-93.)

    "It is often asserted that the mention of camels and of their use is an anachronism in Genesis. This charge is simply not true, as there is both philological and archaeological evidence for knowledge and use of this animal in the early second millenium BC and even earlier. While a possible reference to camels in a fodder-list from Alalakh (c. eighteenth century BC) has been disputed, the great Mesopotamian lexical lists that originated in the Old Babylonian period show a knowledge of the camel c. 2000/17000 BC, including its domestication. Furthermore, a Sumerian text from Nippur from the same early period gives clear evidence of domestication of the camel by then, by its allusions to camel's milk...For the early and middle second millennium BC, only limited use is presupposed by either the biblical or external evidence until the twelfth century BC. " [Kitchen in AOOT:79-80]


    One of the earliest pieces of data comes from Northeast Iran:
    "The period [EB, NMG IV, 3000-2500 BC] is marked by technological advances in pottery production, including the introduction and dominant utilization of the fast wheel and the appearance of efficient, tow-tiered pottery kilns; metallurgy with deliberate alloying and evidence for local production in the form of copper smelting furnaces on the outskirts of Khapuz-depe; stone working; and a development of wheeled vehicles drawn by Bactrian camels and possible bulls as indicated by terra-cotta models." [COWA1:186


    Bulliet agrees: "This conclusion serves to corroborate the inference made by Soviet archaeologists from their discovery of camel-headed wagons that as early as the first half of the third millennium B.C. two-humped camels were used in Turkmenistan for drawing wagons..." [HI:TCAW:155]
    "As has already been mentioned, this type of utilization [camels pulling wagons] goes back to the earliest known period of two-humped camel domestication in the third millenium B.C." [HI:TCAW:177, 183] "
    End Quote

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    -The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine.
    Sir James Jeans

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    Sir Isaac Newton

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