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In the southern Levant, where Israel is located, the oldest known domesticated camel bones are from the Aravah Valley, which runs along the Israeli-Jordanian border from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea and was an ancient center of copper production. Ben-Yosef dated an Aravah Valley copper smelting camp where the domesticated camel bones were found to the 11th to 9th century BCE. To determine exactly when domesticated camels appeared in the southern Levant, Dr. Ben-Yosef used radiocarbon dating and other techniques to analyze the findings of these digs as well as several others done in the valley.

The story of the discovery of St Columba’s hut is a long but significant one.

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

But archaeologists have shown that camels were not domesticated in the Land of Israel until centuries after the Age of the Patriarchs (2000-1500 BCE). Lidar Sapir-Hen of 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, pushing the estimate from the 12th to the 9th century BCE.

Then earlier this year two Glasgow University archaeologists - Dr Adrián Maldonado and Dr Ewan Campbell - arranged to have them radiocarbon dated at the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre . They demonstrated that the hut was not a later structure – but did indeed date, in line with Thomas’ theory, to somewhere between 540 and 650 AD.

St Columba was Abbot of Iona from the date of the monastery’s foundation (563 AD) till his death (597 AD).