Arabian Epigraphic Notes

An Open Access Online Journal on Arabian Epigraphy.

Betwixt and Between the Bactrian Camel and the Dromedary: The Semantic Evolution of the Lexeme udru during the 11th to 8th Centuries BCE


This paper strives to overturn the general consensus that has formed over the past three decades on the identification of the Akkadian lexeme udru as exclusively designating the Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus). This general opinion does not appreciate the semantic evolution of the lexeme udru during the Iron Age. By examining references to udru in Mesopotamian texts from a diachronic perspective, we can outline the semantic evolution of the lexeme. It will be demonstrated that the lexeme udru without any qualifications designated the camel in general and the dromedary in particular during the 11th to 9th centuries bce. Only after the Assyrians defeated the Arabians in the 8th century bce and became better acquainted with the dromedary (Camelus dromedarius), did the lexeme udru start to designate the Bactrian camel in particular.


Ancient North Arabian Animal husbandry Animal names Assyria Camel