Bronze Age Camel Petroglyphs In The Wadi Nasib, Sinai -- By: Randall W. Younker

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 13:3 (Summer 2000)
Article: Bronze Age Camel Petroglyphs In The Wadi Nasib, Sinai
Author: Randall W. Younker

Bronze Age Camel Petroglyphs In The Wadi Nasib, Sinai

Randall W. Younker

The camel’s anatomy led to its value and domestication. Its hump serves for fat storage and probably developed as a body-heater. For water storage, the animal has several sac-shaped extensions in its stomach where liquid can be retained for a long period. Even today camels are bred in the Near East and sell for up to $2,000 each.

Most scholars believe camels were not domesticated until the end of the second millenium BC. Yet evidence continues to amass that camel domestication was widely known earlier. Randall Younker adds Late Bronze Age I petroglyphs (Greek = rock/carving) depicting domesticated camels from the Sinai to that evidence.


In July 1998, a small party of colleagues from Andrews University,1 undertook an expedition to Wadi Nasib (the valley of the stone altar) to visit Proto-Sinaitic Inscriptions found by Dr. Georg Gerster in 1961 (Gerster 1961: 62; Albright 1966: 3).2 The inscriptions are located on the vertical face of a large rock on the north side of the pass, through the N-S running ridge that serves as the eastern boundary of the Wadi Nasib. The pass itself is at the head of a tributary wadi of the Wadi Nasib that is located immediately east of the bedouin cemetery of Bir Nasib. The settlement of Bir Nasib, proper, is located just to the south of the cemetery. Just east of the cemetery there is a trail (actually several meandering trails) which climb eastward along the edge of this tributary up to the cut or pass. The Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions were easy to find and were found to be still in the same state of preservation as when Gerster first found them.

Visiting the Proto-Sinaitic Inscriptions

The actual reading of the inscriptions has been a matter of some discussion. Albright (1966) failed to recognize the fourth column as belonging to the inscription and tried to make sense of only the remaining three. Albright’s transcription was: ‘D ‘[L]T[N] L H B[R] [N]H ‘LW. He translated the inscription as “O father E[l], gra[nt] to Heber re[st] beside him!” Rainey (1975), who was able to personally examine the inscription, subsequently noted that there is a fourth column that Albright ignored or overlooked. Also, he modified the readings of a few of the characters. Rainey’s reading of the whole text is: [B]RKT / ‘D[‘] / RB HWT / W L ‘H[ ... ] or Blessing(s) (on/of) ‘Ad(d)a’, chief of the stockades(s), arid (on/of) ‘h[ ... ]. Other scholars have proposed still other variant readings (e.g., Shea 1987).

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