Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Cañari, Tuncahuán, and Cojitambo of Ecuador

Cojitambo is a small mountain village and an archaeological site in the Cañar province of south central Ecuador—a country about the size of the U.S. state of Oregon.
The ruins of Cojitambo located on a hillside in southcentral Ecuador

It is a large complex of Cañari (Kañari) ruins covering about 62 square acres and claimed to date back to the last century B.C.—however, this is more speculative than verified since there is a lack of archaeological work done in the area of the B.C. period.
    The Cañari people were a long-lasting independent pre-Columbian confederation of united tribes who formed a single people, and made up of fierce warriors that primarily occupied the Tumebamba area (present day Cuenca, originally Cañari settlement of Guapondelig), about 15 miles to the south and a little west of Cojitambo. It is interesting that the Cañari had an oral tradition of a massive flood as part of their creation stories, similar to those of the Bible.
Map showing the area of the Cañari with (blue) arrows showing the distances from the shore to the majority of sites; the second (blue) arrow showing from the mountains in the west to those in the east; and the (red) arrow showing the width of the narrow strip of land between the shore and the beginning of the cordillera mountains. This entire area was inhabited by the Cañari during Nephite times

Around Cueneca, the Cañari inhabited the area from the limits of Azuay to Saraguro, from the Gualaquiza mountains to the Narajal beaches and the coasts of the Jambeli canal. The most important settlement areas were Cojitambo, Coyoctor, Cañaribamba, Chobishi, Culebrillas, Molleturo, Yacuviñay, Hatun Canar (Ingapirca) and Guapondelig (Tumebamba), among others.
    It is believed that the Cañari came after the Tuncahuán phase (last century B.C.), a period archaeologists have not bothered to excavate and who know little about the people or their history and way of life. It is claimed the Tuncahuán culture flourished in the central highlands of Ecuador, and is believed to be traced back to 500 B.C. to 500 A.D.
Cañari ruins questionably assumed to date to the middle of the last century B.C. in southern Ecuador

The Cañari primarily occupied the Tumebamba area (Cuenca) where their architecture is claimed to have rivaled that of Cuzco, with Tumebamba often referred to as the “second Cuzco.”
    The name Cañari comes from “kan” meaning “snake,” and “ara” meaning Guacamaya: (macaw), suggesting these two animals were sacred to the ancient Cañari, who inhabited the southern highlands of Ecuador for more than 3000 years.
Some of the ruins of Cojitambo, situated on a high hill at the base of the mountains

Historically they were one of the most important tribes in the region and Cuenca was their capital or main city for hundreds of years. They were a powerful tribe with fine skills in weaving, agriculture, pottery, and working with gold and silver. Within the overall Cañari culture, there were groups with their own cultures, one of which was the Peleusis, located in the modern area of Azogues, who had a leadership or a dominance over neighboring tribes, though generally, each tribe had its own leader—but in times of natural disasters or war, the confederacy of tribes would unite and choose a single leader.
    Ecuador is split by two cordilleras into coastal, Andean and Amazonian regions. The coastal region ranges from a tropical rain forest in the north to a mixed wet-dry monsoon region in the central and south. A third fairly low cordillera runs intermittently along the coastal strip. Among the volcanic mountains, known as the Corridor of the Volcanoes, lie rich, fertile valleys or basins, and at one time was centrally covered by lower mountains and hills—these were changed, many lowered into valleys, as the Andes mountains rose to great heights, altering the flow of rivers and the pathway of constructed roads through changing mountain passes.
    The Cojitamba ruins are located 9,910 feet above sea level, less than four miles west of Azogues, having a strategic location with views of Cuenca, Biblián and Azogues, the latter being the capital of Cañar province. The site is considered to have been a military stronghold, and is named in Quechua (curi tambo) the “Resting Place of Gold,” though no gold has ever been found in the area. The site has 500-foot sheer walls of volcanic cliffs to the east and south of the ruins.
Some of the sheer volcanic stone rock walls around Cojitambo

The Cojitambo archaeological site sits on a small flattened area on top of the cliffs. The terrain is less steep in the north and west and a road leads to the summit and ruins. The sheer eastern face of Cojitambo rock rises 490 feet from the outskirts of the village, and extends for about 1,600 feet in a north-south direction. The dome-shaped rock is Ecuador's most popular site today for rock climbing with more than 100 routes identified.
    Far south of the Cañari lands is the area of Saraguro (today’s Loja, Ecuador), where much of the information on the entire district evolves, and is mostly about the Inca period when they instituted resettlement projects in the Loja area. Dennis E. Ogburn’s entire thesis and much of the scholar’s writings of Cojitambo surrounds these events of resettlement of a people that are known to have existed in the area from 500 A.D. to 1200 A.D., rising to the point of power between 1200 A.D. and 1460 A.D., when they finally fell to the Inca after an extended period of warfare in which the Cañari withstood the mighty warriors of the Inca for about ten years.
Map extended to include Loja, the Inca area of Saraguro

Loja is in a high Andean valley at an elevation of 7,300 feet, lying in the bottom of the broad glacial Cuxibamba (Smiley) valley. It is situated between the humid Amazon Basin and the costal Sechura desert in Peru, the area is composed mainly of paramo, cloud-forest, and jungle, with 86% of its territory coered by hills or mountains. The valley borders the Podocarpus National Park, which is a massive cloud-forest reserve accessible through the Cajanuma gates just minutes outside the city. The city itself is surrounded by two rivers, the Rio Zamora and Rio Malacatos, and just beyond are located the valleys of Vicabamba and Malacatos.
    Now the problem lies in the citing of a 500 B.C. date for Cojitambo. This information stems from an obscure reference in some works that “Archaeologists have uncovered evidence that the site of Cojitambo was occupied from 500 BCE onward (Dennis Edward Ogburn, The Inca Occupation and Forced Resettlement in Saraguro, Ecuador, University of California Dissertation, Santa Barbara, 2001, p312).
    However, in checking out this reference, there is no mention of a 500 B.C. date, but of a 500 A.D. date. In fact, the page referenced, 312, has nothing to do with any B.C. dates, and is mostly about the shape of the rocks upon which Cojitambo was built, and andesite stone the Incas quarried at Cojitambo and transported the blocks back to their northern capital of Tomebamba, as well as the “stones of Paquishapa,” the strategically-placed site of Villamarca as an administrative center for the Saraguro Basin, and that Tambo Blanco was an Inca site with local economic orientation.
    In fact, in the entire 400-page work, Cojitambo is mentioned only twice, both on p312, and is regarding the site’s shape on the hill near Azogues that had “been likened to a sleeping lion and was an important sacred site of the Cañaris,” and was also the location of a fort.
Dates of the Cañari (Kañari) civilization date from 500 A.D. (6th century) to 1533 A.D. when the Spanish conquered the Inca and its satellite cultures

That other writers have perpetuated the 500 B.C. date, rather than the 500 A.D. date only shows that poor scholarship creates problems that are seldom checked and verified and, thus, continue to be perpetuated.
    While we do not know the exact dates that Cojitambo was built and the Canari people occupied the area, we can be assured that it was sometime after the crucifixion and probably within the “golden years” of the Nephite Nation following the Lord’s advent and extended until the Nephites were forced into the north countries by the Lamanites during the final wars that ended at Cumorah. It is equally important to always keep in mind that dates used by anthropologists and archaeologists often fit into a pre-determined criteria, such as Ogburn’s “Preceramic,” “Early Formative,” ”Late Formative,” “Regional Development Period,” and “Integration Period.” Thus, circumstances are placed in dated categories that do not necessarily match their actual dated events.
    As an example, the Cañari and Cojitambo have been dated to 500 A.D. to 1200 A.D., and later, so when a culture believed to have pre-dated the Cañari, who
    The first to describe this Tuncahuán phase was the Ecuadorian historian, archaeologist and politician Jacinto Caamaño Jijón, whose investigation of five graves in a cemetery while surveying a pre-Hispanic settlement near the town of Manta, led to his discovery of the Tunacahuán. In central Ecuador, this phase or people were given a date of 500 B.C. to 500 A.D.; however, there has been very little archaeological research done in this region of Ecuador and both archaeologists and anthropologists “still have much to learn of its prehistory.” Yet, this lack of factual information does not stop the researchers from giving this rather unknown culture a date. It might be of interest that this so-called Tuncahuán culture has been identified through funerary items containing ceramic and copper—the very items used to describe the Cañari.
    It might also be understood that researchers claim that “As there are no excavations on sites currently which were occupied during the Tuncahuán phase, archaeologists know little about the way of life of the people who produced these ceramics.”
    Consequently, it seems reasonable to suggest that we look at such dates with caution, and not jump on unproven or even unresearched dating to determine when who and what is claimed to have existed in pre-historic times.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Was Mormon Playing Games With Us? – Part V – Four Seas

Continuing from the previous post in which the Mesoamericanists’ narrow neck of land was discussed. The problem got started in 1985 with Sorenson’s book that showed an east-west running Land of Promise even though Mormon describes it as running north and south (Alma 22:27-34).
    Out of that design, came the idea that the Nephites used a different north orientation than we do today. In fact, it has been said that knowledgeable individuals who read Sorenson’s writings have a natural tendency to use the term “Nephite north” in referring to Sorenson’s rotated compass. For example: Sorenson’s “limited Tehuantepec theory” (a view that places the Book of Mormon lands in southern Mexico, Yucatan and Guatemala) has its own set of flaws.
A satellite photo of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec with the Bay of Campeche (due north) and the Gulf of Tehuantepec (due south) shown, as well as the Gulf of Mexico (due north) and the Pacific Ocean (due south) of then isthmus, or Sorenson’s “narrow neck of land” (white line dividing east and west)

Alma 22:27 in the Book of Mormon mentions a “narrow strip of wilderness” that divided a sea to the east and a sea to the west. The problem is southern Mexico has no such shoreline. Instead, the water masses in this area really lie north and south. However, undaunted, Sorenson merely turned his map sideways and declares that the Nephites used a different method for determining directions. In this case a so-called “Nephite north” is employed. Thus, what appears to be a “sea north” becomes the Sorenson “sea east” and the southern water mass, which would be a “sea south” becomes a Sorenson “sea west.
Left: Sorenson’s first map (Map 1) shown on page 7 of his book—entitled “Hourglass shape of book of Mormon Lands” creates an understanding of a match between Sorenson’s map and Mormon’s descriptions of the land; Right: Sorenson’s Map 4 on page 24, again showing a vertical, north upward, map, along with West and East seas, and limited detail. Note the red circles showing the direction "North" on both maps

In fact, as we have reported here before, Sorenson begins in his 1985 work with a north-south map on p7 (Map 1 – “Hourglass Shape of Book of Mormon Lands”), continues that north-south map on p11 (Map 2 – “Journeys Indicating Distances”), and again on p20 (Map 3 – “Relative Positions of Lands and Cities”), and finally on p24 (Map 4 – “Topography of Lands and Regions”).
    Now, in each of these four maps, his West Sea is to the west, his East Sea is to the east, as one would expect it to be, and the Land Northward is to the north, and his Land Southward is to the south. So after spending almost 35 pages outlining his north-south map and all that he placed within it, he then states on (p35-36) after telling us that the physical features of Mesoamerica and the Book of Mormon are similar, he states; “the general hourglass shape is evident in both, the dimensions are similar—that is if we ignore the northern and western extension of Mesoamerica, which we may do since the Book of Mormon is silent about the corresponding area.”
    However, that is not an honest statement. The Book of Mormon is neither silent about the corresponding area, nor does it agree with Sorenson’s claim. Take, as an example, Jacob’s teachings in the temple which Nephi dutifully recorded: ”And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20, emphasis added). Then, to show that this is entirely factual, we find a little over 500 year later, this statement: “And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east“ (Helaman 3:8, emphasis added).
    Thus, it cannot be claimed, as Sorenson does, that the Book of Mormon is silent on this area. However, they  are scriptural references Sorenson does not mention. Instead, he goes on to state: “We must also ignore the Yucatan Peninsula and adjacent lowlands, for we noted earlier that the Nephite-controlled portion of the coast along the east sea was short and that the entire area eastward from the city of Nephi is undescribed in the scripture.”
    Again, this is not an accurate statement. Mormon gives us a clear understanding that the land of Nephi ran from the East Sea to the West Sea. Mormon inserts this very clear statement about the Lamanite king: “And it came to pass that the king sent a proclamation throughout all the land, amongst all his people who were in all his land, who were in all the regions round about, which was bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west” (Alma 22:27, emphasis added). In addition, just to the north of the Land of Nephi, separating the Lamanite land from the Land of Zarahemla, Mormon also tells us that: “and which [land of Nephi] was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west” (Alma 22:27, emphasis added).
The Nephites built several cities along the eastern shore, beginning with Moroni in the far south near the Lamanite lands, and then Lehi, Nephihah, Morianton and the others. These were all down by the seashore (except for Nephihah) and when the Lamanite Amalickiah attacked these cities, he did so in order. There is simply no provision for a huge Yucatan peninsula along that coast as Sorenson claims
    In addition, Mormon tells us that this eastern coast where the Land of Nephi, the narrow strip of wilderness, and the Land of Zarahemla run, was the site of the building of the city of Moroni: “And it came to pass that the Nephites began the foundation of a city, and they called the name of the city Moroni; and it was by the east sea; and it was on the south by the line of the possessions of the Lamanites” (Alma 50:13). They also built a city just to the north also along the seashore: “And they also began in that same year to build many cities on the north, one in a particular manner which they called Lehi, which was in the north by the borders of the seashore” (Alma 50:15), whose border ran along the Land of Moroni, just to the south, which was near the narrow strip of wilderness.
    Also, they built a city near there called Nephihah, which was between the city of Aaron and Moroni. In fact, Mormon states that when Amalickiah came down and attacked these cities, first capturing the city of Moroni: “And those who fled out of the city of Moroni came to the city of Nephihah; and also the people of the city of Lehi gathered themselves together, and made preparations and were ready to receive the Lamanites to battle. But it came to pass that Amalickiah would not suffer the Lamanites to go against the city of Nephihah to battle, but kept them down by the seashore, leaving men in every city to maintain and defend it. And thus he went on, taking possession of many cities, the city of Nephihah, and the city of Lehi, and the city of Morianton, and the city of Omner, and the city of Gid, and the city of Mulek, all of which were on the east borders by the seashore” (Alma 51:24-26, emphasis added).
    Thus there were several cities near the seashore of the Sea East, all of which near the area of the Land of Nephi. But in Sorenson’s map, that would place them hundreds of miles away along the Yucatan peninsula coast jutting out into the Gulf of Mexico. Still, ignoring all of this, Sorenson closes his eyes to the facts and states: “Thus the two areas of Mesoamerica that do not fit clearly with what the Nephite record tells us about geography are precisely the regions about which the scriptural account leaves us hazy. There are not contradictions [in his map and the scriptural record.”
    Obviously, this is not the truth, and being false statements, shows that Sorenson’s entire concept of a east-west Land of Promise is totally without merit.
    Now one can only wonder at such bald-faced fallacious comments. The scriptural record is quite clear about the area in which Sorenson wants to insert 15,260 square miles of the Yucatan peninsula where there is no mention, suggestion or even hint of anything being there.
    Somehow, Sorenson feels it is quite all right to change Mormon’s north-south map into an east-west map and have the impertinent hubris to tell us his Book of Mormon map and his Mesoamerican map have “no contradictions.” He even concludes this claim by stating “and other features also coincide,” and closes with “More detail is not necessary at this point.”
Sorenson’s May 5, on page 37 of his book, in which he turns his hourglass maps on the side and claims there is no contradiction between them. Note Sorenson still. has (red circle) the arrow point to "north" after he has completely changed the orientation of his map--this deception is certainly no accident
In addition, Sorenson then places his final hourglass map sideways as Mesoamerica lies, with the Land Southward now to the east and the Land Northward now to the west, and the East Sea now to the north and the West Sea now to the south. If those aren’t contradictions, it is hard to imagine what he might consider a contradiction. Yet, Sorenson makes another extremely brash remark when he states: “The general agreement between Mesoamerican and book of Mormon geography can be grasped directly by studying map 5 carefully.”
    For those of us who have been studying his map thoroughly for many years—it still runs east and west while Mormon describes the Land of Promise running north and south. Studying an incorrect map does not, over time, make it any less incorrect. East and West is simply not North and South; a 140-mile wide isthmus is not a “narrow neck of land,” and when each end of his land of promise extends for hundreds of miles into two huge land masses, it neither satisfies Jacob’s island, nor allows for the third and fourth seas.
    Yet, Sorenson then goes on to spend several more pages trying to sell his Mesoamerican east-west model. And if the above isn’t enough to annoy a scriptorian, Sorenson adds (p41) “Besides, it turns out that Mesoamerican territory is just plain awkward to label directionally in terms of the European compass because it angles across our neat grid.”
    What he means is that It “angles” across at a 90º erroneous angle!
    Notice the use of the term, “European compass,” as though only Europeans have used that particular compass. That flies in the face of Chinese compasses, which were invented long before Europe did, and as has been stated many times, “People usually built early compasses using lodestone, a special form of the mineral magnetite that, as a natural permanent magnet, aligns itself with the Earth’s magnetic field and exhibits north-south polarity.” In fact, the lodestone also served as the basis of primitive Chinese compasses that could roughly indicate the cardinal directions.
    The point of this discussion is that the error associated with the rotated compass that resulted in the Sorenson concept of “Nephite north” need not have occurred. When Mormon uses the term “Sea East,” readers of his writing should naturally and legitimately expect that sea to be east of “something”—not north of “something.” And that “something,” from the perspective of Alma 22, is the narrow neck of land—Sorenson’s the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
    With the cardinal points once accurately defined, by convention cartographers standard maps with north (N) at the top, and east to the right. In turn, maps provide a systematic means to record where places are, and cardinal directions are the foundation of a structure for telling someone how to find those places.
    Yet, oblivious to this fact, Sorenson goes to great lengths as he addresses the issue of inconsistency in directional systems among cultures throughout the history of the world, including in Mesoamerica. With a noticeable amount of frustration, he deals with one critic of his interpretation of the Nephite directional system by summing up his thinking about the diversity of directional systems among cultures as follows: “The topic of directions still seems mysterious…to…critics and general readers of my work. I have tried several times to make the matter clear, but perhaps one more try here will make the crucial points unmistakable. Six ideas are worth noting.”
   It would appear that if we accept what many of these theorists claim regarding their personal views of the scriptural record, we must conclude that Mormon was indeed playing games with us. On the other hand, if we accept Mormon's clear statements without trying to bend them to fit a pre-conceived viewpoint, then Mormon's words make sense and we can rest assured in their accuracy.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Was Mormon Playing Games With Us? – Part IV – Cardinal Directions

Continued from the previous post in which the Mesoamericanists’ narrow neck of land was discussed, along with the four seas and the island Jacob outlined. All of this still hinges on John L. Sorenson substituting his east-west Mesoamerica Land of Promise for Mormon’s north-south Land of Promise.
Sorenson’s map showing an east-west Land of Promise, instead of Mormon’s north-south descriptions

Regarding Sorenson’s change of directions, it should be understood that in a map, north does not have to be at the top. Most maps in medieval Europe, for example, placed east at the top (Snyder's Medieval Art, 2nd ed., Luttikhuizen and Verkerk; Prentice Hall, New York, 2006), pp226-227). Early Egyptian maps placed “south” at the top, perhaps influenced by the flow of the Nile River. The Chinese also placed “south” at the top of their maps and, in fact, state directions “dong,” “nan,” “xi,” and “bei,” that is: “east, south, west, north,” and their word for “compass” means “south-pointing needle (zhǐnánzhēn 指南针).”
    Very early T and O maps divided the world into three parts, with Asia at the top. And an early Babylonian map placed northwest at the top of the map. What is important, all these maps used a compass rose, showing the direction of north quite distinctly.
    It should also be noted that the direction of travel required to reach an exact destination is called the bearing, a general direction would be a heading. As an example, using the typical 360º compass headings (the military uses 6400 units or “mils” for additional precision when measuring angles, laying artillery, etc.), you might be heading north, but within that context, your bearing could be anywhere from about 320º to about 40º. Stated differently, if two people are heading directly toward one another, and one of them has a bearing of 135º, then the other has a bearing of 315º. Or, if not on the same direct route, one coming from the east on a bearing of say 97º and one coming from the southwest on a heading of say 213º, at some point they will meet.
A bearing compass divided into a 360º circle

Stated additionally, if a distant object is on a bearing of 220º (southwest), you can follow that heading, but if at some point you take a wrong turn, or you make a stop and divert somewhere along that line of travel, you would need a new heading, which could be a few degrees, or several degrees different. As an example, before cars and roads, let’s say you are heading from Salt Lake City to Denver. Upon leaving Salt Lake City, you would follow a bearing of 100º. However, if for some reason when you reach Vernal, you decide to divert to Laramie first, then on to Denver, you would need to change bearing at Vernal to 74º to reach Laramie. Then, upon leaving Laramie, you would need a bearing of 166º to reach Denver.
    Obviously, since the real world presents numerous obstacles, a person must adjust his heading accordingly when traveling in the open by compass. Upon moving forward, the bearing will change so that it always points at the destination, thereby giving clues as to which way to turn.
    The point is, since man began to travel, and the creation of maps, there has been a standard orientation of the cardinal points of the compass that every nation has followed—if there were differences, communication, maps, and just about everything pertaining to geography would have been frustrated. Just because a society taught its following generations how to understand and remember (memorize) cardinal points is no criteria for how they later used and know those cardinal points.
    However, according to Sorenson, “Directions and how they are referred to are cultural products, not givens in nature. Both the conceptual frameworks which define directions and the languages of reference for them differ dramatically from culture to culture and throughout history.”
    While this may be true when man was limited in scope to his immediate vicinity, man  has been giving and receiving directions and those directions follow an accepted, standard orientation, no matter what exact words were used to describe them. East, or the direction of the sun, has always been known and understood. As an example, it was the Japanese sinologist Tachibana Shiraki in the 1920s who wrote of the need to unify with China and some other Asian nations (excluding Central Asia and the Middle East) in forming a "New East" that might combine culturally in balancing against the West (Lincoln Li, “The China factor in Modern Japanese thought: the case of Tachibana Shiraki,” 1881-1945. SUNY Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture, SUNY Press, 1996, pp104–105).
    East and West were not simply designations of countries—but their directional bearing from the point of those discussing the matter. On maps as well as in thought, Asia is “the east,” and America is “the west.”
    This continued through World War II by Japan, and by China during the Cold War in a 1957 speech by Mao Zedong (John K. Leung and Michael Y.M. Kau, The Writings of Mao Zedong, 1949-1976, M.E. Sharpe, London, 1992, p773), and more recently as an Islamic “East” verses an American and European “West” (Eugenio Chahuán, "An East-West dichotomy: Islamophobia,"in Schenker, Hillel; Ziad, Abu Zayyad. Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. A Palestine-Israel Journal Book. Markus Wiener Publishers, 2006, pp. 25–32).
“Everything is South from here—we don’t have north, east or west”
Sorenson stated in his book: “Moreover, the labeling of directions is not obvious nor intuitive but really highly cultural, that is, arbitrary and that ultimately we can only determine empirically what the ancients meant by their direction terms.” However, this should not be seen as a specific culture, since the directional names are also routinely and very conveniently associated with the degrees of rotation in the unit circle, a necessary step for navigational calculations (derived from trigonometry) as well as current use with Global Positioning Satellite GPS receivers. The four cardinal (“primary” or “of most importance”) directions correspond to the four degrees of a compass: North 0º/360º; East 90º; South 180º; and West 270º.
    This allowed for the development of accurate map making. An absolute requirement in all ages in order for maps to provide a systematic means to record where places are, and cardinal directions the foundation of a structure for telling someone how to find those places. Since maps first came into being (found on cave paintings as well as among ancient Babylonians, Greeks, and Asians, with the first map of the known world credited to the Greek Anaximander in the 6th Century B.C., who was followed by Hecataeus of Miletus; Decaearchus of Messana; Eratoshenes of Ptolemaic Egypt, Hipparchus of Nicaea; and Liú Ān  of the Han dynasty in China, all making maps in the B.C. period.
    It is not that north has to be at the top, and in many cultures, it is not, but the cardinal points need to be in correct position to one another. Thus a direction of travel required to reach an intended destination was necessary among all maritime nations at a very early period. Beginning in 21 A.D., it was critical for directions to be standard as was seen during the Invasions of the Roman Empire, and as the Empire fell, the Germanic, Slavic and other peoples moving into the territory of the Romans during what has been termed the Migration Period. By the time of the maritime involvement at the beginning of the Age of Discovery in the 13th century, Portolan charts showing compass directions and distances observed by the ship’s pilots at sea, were absolutely essential.
Beginning with the A.D. period, the Germanic language’s names for the cardinal directions entered the Romance languages where they replaced the well-used Latin names that had existed before that, i.e., borealis (or septentrionalis) with “north,” australis (or meridionalis) with “south,” occidentalis with “west” and orientalis with “east.”
In fact, the earlier Scandinavian names were as common in meaning as English terms are today:
north (Proto-Germanic norþ-) from the Proto-Indo-European nórto-s 'submerged' from the root ner- 'left, below, to the left of the rising sun' whence comes the Ancient Greek name Nereus;
east (aus-t-) from the word for dawn. The proto-Indo-European form is austo-s from the root is aues- 'shine (red)'; See Eostre;
south (sunþ-), derived from proto-Indo-European sú-n-to-s from the root seu- 'seethe, boil'. Cognate with this root is the word Sun, thus "the region of the Sun";
west (wes-t-) from a word for "evening." The proto-Indo-European form is uestos from the root ues- 'shine (red)', itself a form of aues-Cognate with the root are the Latin words vesper and vesta and the Ancient Greek Hetia, Hesperus and Hesperides.
    It should be noted that these words came through Indo-European, i.e., the family of languages spoken over the greater part of Europe and Asia as far as northern India; proto Indo-European means the unrecorded language from which all Indo-European languages are hypothesized to derive (the parent language); also the Greek and Latin, and Romance Languages—which pretty much covers almost all of the peoples of the ancient world with the exception of the Chinese and East Asia, and Semitic languages (Arabic, Amharic, 
The Semetic words for east and west have to do with the rising and setting of the sun, respectively, and west has the additional, related, meaning of “going away” or “departing,” from which is derived the word (gharīb), which means “strange” or “alien” or “foreign,” i.e., going away from the Sun or East. The words north and south meanwhile, both derive from terms for “side” or “flank” (north can mean “left” although which is an archaic meaning); also, the Arabic word for “right,” (yamīn) comes from a root that can also (if somewhat archaically) mean “south” (from which we get the name of the country of Yemen, which is in the southern part of the Arabian peninsula). East used to hold the “top” position among the cardinal directions, presumably due to the whole rising sun sequence, which would put north on the “left” and south on the “right.”

As was mentioned in the previous post, Sorenson stated: “The topic of directions still seems mysterious . . . to . . . critics and general readers of my work. I have tried several times to make the matter clear, but perhaps one more try here will make the crucial points unmistakable. Six ideas are worth noting:
1. All systems for labeling directions are arbitrary and spring from the unique historical, geographical and linguistic backgrounds of specific peoples. . . .
2. More than one system of direction labels is commonly used in a single culture. . . .
3. Various other criteria (e.g., the rising or setting of certain stars, seeing particular landmarks, or the prevailing wind) may take precedence over the sun.
4. When a people move from one location to another, their system of directions is quite sure to undergo change.
5. What exactly were the cultural and linguistic backgrounds of the directional terminology (or terminologies) used by Lehi’s family in the land of Judah? . . .
6. The Book of Mormon refers to directions at many points, but no attempt at an explanation of their mental model, however brief, is ever given.
    Sorenson resorts to such language because he has been challenged on several occasions about his interpretation of the Nephites’ directional system.
(See the next post, “Is Mormon Playing Games With Us? – Part V, for more information on John L. Sorenson’s directional change and Mesoamericanist theorists claims about their location for the Land of Promise).

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Was Mormon Playing Games With Us? – Part III – Different Directions

Continuing from the previous post in which the Mesoamericanists’ narrow neck of land was discussed.
    In the 1970s and 1980s, David A. Palmer was a contemporary and colleague of John L. Sorenson. Both authored books about Book of Mormon geography, with Palmer’s work entitled In Search of Cumorah: New Evidences for the Book of Mormon from Ancient Mexico. Although Palmer’s book was “officially” published before Sorenson’s An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, Sorenson’s manuscript was used extensively as a photocopied version in looseleaf binding for several years prior to its publication by the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies.
    The point of this discussion is to ask the following question: “Who made the initial decision to rotate the compass to justify labeling the Gulf of Mexico as the Book of Mormon’s east sea—John Sorenson or David Palmer?” An answer to that question is not critical to this discussion. Both Sorenson and Palmer espoused a rotation of the compass in their writings, and each supported the other in this configuration.
After four maps in his book, Sorenson then shifts from the vertical, north-south orientation  of maps 1-4 to a horizontal east-west orientation in map 5, without any other explanation than: “The general hourglass shape is evident in both maps. The dimensions are very similar—that is, if we ignore the northern and western expansion of Mesoamerica, which we may do…we must also ignore the Yucatan Peninsula and adjacent lowlands, for we noted earlier that the Nephite-controlled portion of the coast along the east sea was short…there are no contradictions.” Of course you have to also ignore the extreme width of the isthmus, and also ignore the unending extension of the land, which eliminates the two other seas in Helaman 3:8

Sorenson refers to his rotation of the compass as simply that—a rotation. Palmer refers to his rotation of the compass by coining a new “cardinal direction,” i.e., Nephite north. Sorenson denies that the results of his rotation of the compass can legitimately be labeled “Nephite north” when he says, “The concept of ‘Nephite north’ is not mine, consequently it is not appropriate on a map representing my views.”
    Palmer provides several maps with “true north” and “Nephite north” clearly labeled; the degree of rotation on these maps to accommodate the new direction of “Nephite north” is apparently seventy degrees northwest of north.
    While that difference might be Sorenson’s or Palmer’s, actually, in the immediate vicinity of the Land Northward and the Land Southward at the Narrow Neck of Land for Mesoamerica, it is truly 100º east and west as any map will show. The further away you go, the more you can add a few degrees to that in a change northward and southward, but that difference is many miles away from the narrow neck.
    In speaking of the Nephite north, Palmer makes two noteworthy statements:
    “An obvious problem with identification of Tehuantepec as the “narrow neck of land” is that it runs north-south, not east-west as would be expected if it were to separate the land “northward” from the land “southward.” However, this is only one part of the larger problem of Book of Mormon geography. If one assumes that the Book of Mormon “north” is actually true north, one has the same problem as Hammond (1959), who placed his map of the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica generally but was unable to develop a specific correlation with present topography of the area. The solution, which is now agreed upon by many serious students of this subject, is that the Book of Mormon north was west-north-west in our coordinate system.”
One can only chuckle at such a comment. Here “serious students of the book of Mormon” are saying that the land they have chosen as the Land of Promise, runs due east and west instead of due north and south, thus, we need to alter the due north and south so that it is more in line with our model and map.” In so doing, they then say that they are not altering the scriptural record or the writings of Mormon at all.
    Palmer continues: “This is the reason for the orientation of some of the maps presented in this book which have west-north-west at the top.”
    Now, how is that the work of a “serious student of the Book of Mormon”? Wouldn’t a serious student of the scriptural record take the record as it is written and go from there? That, to many of us, seems the appropriate way to treat the scriptural record, but geography theorists of the Book of Mormon insist on having “literary license” to make what alterations—not changes according to them—in the scriptural record so that it adjusts to fit the model and map of the theorists.
    In a recent film entitled Pearl Harbor, actor John Voight as FDR convenes his military advisers after the attack. Finding them depressed and defeatist, FDR makes a melodramatic "when I had the use of my legs" speech and then, to illustrate the point, rises from his chair—theatrically, clumsily, angrily struggling to stand using leg braces and cane—with the ringing admonition: "Don't tell me it can't be done." That, of course, did not happen in real life, and when confronted by the fact, the Director Michael Bay shot back, “Well, he should have done it!” But Roosevelt would have been mortified at the antic.
    While the modern politician thinks nothing of playing on pity or exploiting weakness, FDR was very careful about disguising his disability that he would receive his White House dinner guests in one room, fixing drinks while sitting at a table, then have Eleanor take the guests on a long and winding trip downstairs to give him enough time for his Filipino stewards rushing in, wheeling and carrying him downstairs, then quickly transferring him into a regular chair so his guests would enter the dining room to find the smiling president awaiting them at the head of the table.
FDR was always seated in all public appearances, even with his closest staff—never drawing attention to his infirmity

The point is, the makers of the movie felt it was all right to re-write history, and theorists for whatever reason, feel it is all right to re-write the scriptural record so long as it then agrees with their view, beliefs and model. This is why we keep “harping” on what the Book of Mormon actually says, what Mormon wrote, and its obvious and factual meaning—not someone’s opinion of the meaning.
    “North,” after all, means “north,” and “northward,” after all, means “toward the north,” not something else. It meant “north” to the Hebrews and Jews in ancient times, it means “north” to the Jews today, and it will continue to mean “north,” no matter who or when the Book of Mormon is read. If Mormon meant some other direction, he would have said so. If he meant some other reason, the Spirit would have known that. And if the Lord wanted us to understand some other direction, the Spirit would have conveyed that to Joseph Smith, who would have written it the way the Lord wanted us to know that. To consider that Mormon, the Spirit or the Lord is making it difficult for us to understand plain and simple language is beyond comprehension. It was Joseph Smith who make that quite clear—said he, “For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding” (2 Nephi 31:3). It is amazing how many theorists, who profess belief in the divinely inspired Joseph Smith writing, yet ignore what that writing actually says when it disagrees with their personal views.
    As one theorist claims Malay is the Land of Promise when Moroni told Joseph Smith that the plates contained a history of the people “of this continent,” how can you claim Lehi landed on another continent where “this continent” meant both North and South America in Joseph Smith’s time.
Did Moroni really ignore the Spirit and write the way he wanted to as Joseph Allen claims?

Joseph Allen writes: “There are indications that in making the abridgment of Ether’s Jaredite history, Moroni used his own geographical definitions and directions. Therefore, throughout this work we will attempt to consistently give directions in the Nephite coordinate system when speaking of Nephite or Jaredite events. In other words, if we say that Alma went north, the reader can translate that to west-north-west in modern terms. When not speaking of the Book of Mormon text, conventional directions will be used.”
    If Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and he tells us that the Lord speaks to us in our language for our understanding, we don’t have to translate north to mean west by northwest (which is a correct direction, not west-north-west).
(See the next post, “Is Mormon Playing Games With Us? – Part IV, for more information on James L. Allen’s critique of John L. Sorenson, both Mesoamericanists, of the latter’s claims about his location for the Land of Promise in Mesoamerica).

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Was Mormon Playing Games With Us? – Part II – “The Map”

Continuing with James L. Allen’s critique of John L. Sorenson, both Mesoamericanists, of the latter’s claims about his location for the Land of Promise in Mesoamerica. Of this Allen writes: “The error here on Sorenson’s part comes because he does not read Alma 22:32 carefully and then analyze its content correctly in relation to other Book of Mormon geographic statements. Frankly, such errors simply cannot be tolerated on the part of those who are truly respected as the elite of Book of Mormon scholars—a role that Sorenson unequivocally holds in the academic environment of Brigham Young University.”
    Such a fiery statement regarding his own colleague is a strong condemnation of Sorenson’s model, but Allen’s model has as many faults as well. In fact, fellow Mesoamericanist John E. Clark, a professor of Anthropology at BYU, in a critique of Allen’s book “Sacred Sites,” states: “[it] merits a glance, but not a careful read…its substance evaporates with scrutiny” (Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, Orem, UT, 1989)
    Ralph Olsen, a Malay theorist particularly criticizes Sorenson’s “Nephite North” concept which, however, if he were up to date on current scholarship, would know has been abandoned by most Book of Mormon Mesoamericanist scholars. But the fact remains, for whatever reason, they still deal with an east-west land mass instead of a north-south land mass.
Allen’s Land of Promise Model Map. Note the problems stated below

1. Violet Circle: Shows where Allen claims is the “place where the sea divides the land” (Ether 10:20). However, if you were to walk along this shoreline for the several hundred miles that is indicated, there is no way you would see anything that divided the land. This is the Gulf of Mexico, and does not divide lands, but is a shoreline of several hundred miles;
2. Blue Circle: this is the “narrow neck of land” (Alma 22:32) which Mormon tells us could be crossed in a day and a half by a Nephite, yet it is about 144 miles across, hardly possible to cross that in a day and a half, and again, if you were to stand on either shoreline, there is no way you could see that it was a narrow neck of land;
3. Red Arrow: shows the physical location of the Land Northward (left) and the Land Southward (right). This places the Land Northward to the west and the Land Southward to the east, not north and south as Mormon tells us (Alma 22:31);
4. Purple Arrow: shows Desolation to the west and Bountiful to the east, yet Mormon described them north and south: “Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful” (Alma 22:31);
5. Green Circle: shows where Allen has placed the West Sea, which is obviously to the south. However, Mormon tells us that “Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward” (Alma 63:5); however, Allen has the Sea West to the south of the narrow neck and both Desolation and Bountiful many miles apart);
6. Yellow Arrow: While Allen has placed Bountiful to the north of Zarahemla, where Mormon describes it; but he also tells us that Desolation was north of Bountiful: “which they called bountiful. And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward” (Alma 22:29-30).
7. Maroon Arrow: Allen’s “narrow strip of Wilderness” is landlocked in the Land Southward; however, Mormon tells us that “a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west” (Alma 22:27) which Allen’s map does not have.
8. Brown Circle: After seven glaring mistakes on his map, Allen finally places the Sea East in the correct general area.
    Despite the fact that Allen makes all these errors, he goes on to criticize Sorenson’s work by saying: “The next error Sorenson makes is associated with his rotation of the compass to justify his designation of the Gulf of Mexico, which is north of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, as the east sea of the Book of Mormon.”
    While John E. Clark critiques these works in an extensive article, he leads off with the statement: “The Book of Mormon communicates clearly four fundamentals about its setting: its lands were warm, narrow in at least one place, flanked by “seas,” and small.
    It is interesting that Clark chooses these four areas for discussion. As an example:
1. Warm. The climate is rarely mentioned in all of the Book of Mormon. It is true that the Lamanites wore loincloths, but the fact that natives in non-warm areas have also dressed only in loincloths does not give evidence that the Land of Promise was only warm. Obviously, it was warm at certain times of the year. So much so, that Mormon tells us: “And there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land…to which men were subject by the nature of the climate” (Alma 46:40), thus we find that certain seasons were frequent in the land. On the other hand, having spent some time in Minnesota, which is freezing cold in the winter with high levels of snowfall, the summers are such that the area (because of the many lakes) is infested with the worst mosquitoes known to man. Even backyard patios are screened in to protect people from the mosquitoes. So you do not need a tropical climate to be infested by mosquitoes.
Palestine (Israel) today as in the past, is a long and narrow land, as is the scriptural description of the Land of Promise occupied by the Nephites

2. Narrow. The land was narrow, at least in one place. That one place was the narrow neck of land, and the word “narrow” would normally not be translated to 144 mile-width as in Mesoamerica, though Clark and other Mesoamericanists do. In fact, from what we read in the scriptura record, the entire Land of Promise, both in the Land Southward and the Land Northward, was rather narrow, at least far more narrow than its much longer length. Mesoamericanists, however, had a great difficulty with this fact, since Mesoamerica is not narrow at any point
3. Flanked by “seas.” The word “flanked,” typically used by Mesoamericanists, literally means “on the side” or “situated on each side,” which Mesoamerica is so “flanked” by seas—the Gulf of Mexico to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south; however, the Land of Promise is not so described by Mormon. Jacob tells us it is an island, which by definition would place a sea in all four directions, or surrounded it—a fact that Helaman verifies when he tells us there is a Sea South and a Sea North, a Sea West and a Sea East (Helaman 3:8); and Mormon tells us that the Land Southward, at least, was completely surrounded by water except for the narrow neck of land (Alma 22:32). This ought to suggest to even the most stubborn of theorists that the Land of Promise was more than flanked by two seas.
By comparison to the entire South American continent, the actual area of the Land of Promise, being the island Jacob claims, makes up a small portion of the overall continent that eventually emerged with the rising of the Andes Mountains during the crucifixion
4. Small. The Land Northward alone sported several million people (Ether 15:2).
    The point is, theorists all fall guilty of the same thing. When they start to describe the Land of Promise, they do not use the scriptural record, but their own model. To illustrate this, Clark goes on to say, “The confusion arises initially because Sorenson works exclusively with his hourglass map that is always reflected in a vertical position. In this vertical position, because north is routinely expressed at the top of his vertical hourglass, as shown in all instances by Sorenson’s north directional arrow, the resulting narrow neck of land (isthmus) runs in an east to west direction. Had Sorenson merely positioned his hourglass map in a horizontal position to match the horizontal hourglass configuration of Mesoamerica and to justify the Nephites’ use of “northward” and “southward” as cardinal directions, he probably would have avoided this error.
    Here we see one person using his own model for his example of the Land of Promise criticizing another theorist for using their own map and model to describe the Land of Promise. The funny thing is, just because a map shows the north location at the top of a land mass (the hourglass shape), does not mean that you can lay it horizontal (from left to right, with the top now to the left) and still claim the top faces north. Maps do not work that way—never have and never will. Not a single vertical map ever drawn, other than the Mesoamericanists’ hourglass shape, has ever been placed flat horizontally to bring north (top) to the west (side). And it is foolish to say it does.
    If that were really the case, then we would have to conclude that Mormon was playing games with us, by telling us things were north-south, when he knew they were east-west. Somehow, I find that so hard to believe and accept that the idea of it is beyond reasonable and borders on the ludicrous.
(See the next post, “Is Mormon Playing Games With Us? – Part II, for more information on James L. Allen’s critique of John L. Sorenson, both Mesoamericanists, of the latter’s claims about his location for the Land of Promise in Mesoamerica).

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Was Mormon Playing Games With Us? – Part I – “From the East”

Let’s say you are writing down something for someone who will come after you as to how to find a certain place, and you write, “It is exactly thirty miles from the east to the west fork in the road.” What would that mean to them?
“Now, don’t make this any more difficult that it is—just go thirty miles from the east to the fork in the road” 

    Let’s say you were having this in a live discussion as the two of you were out in the wilds of a huge wilderness of rolling hills far from any landmarks. It might go something like this:

You: “It is exactly thirty miles from the east to the west fork in the road.” 
Person: “Where in the East?” 
You: “What do you mean? You just start in the East.” 
Person: “At what point in the East do I start?” 
You: “That doesn’t matter.” 
Person: “Of course it matters, if I am going to go thirty miles from there, I need to know exactly where to start.” 
You: “Well, then, just pick a spot.” 
Person: “I will never find the fork in the road doing that. I have to know where you are measuring from!” 
    The problem is quite evident. “In the east” is ambiguous and provides no starting point. When Mormon abridged the Large Plates of the Nephite record, he did so knowing it was for a future people to read. It seems quite strange he would have told them something and provided an ambiguous starting point as so many theorists claim.
Using the descriptions found in the scriptural record, the above image represents the area between the Land of Desolation (Land Northward) and the Land of Bountiful (Land Southward), with a boundary line between them across the “small neck of land.” Now we do not know if that (red-dotted) line was in the center of this stretch of land (as shown) or toward the north or south within that stretch of land, however, it was a dividing line or boundary between these two lands 

As Mormon stated it: “And now, it was only the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea” (Alma 22:32). It seems quite obvious that the purpose of this measurement is to provide his future readers with an understanding of how wide this narrow neck of land was. Thus he writes that it could be crossed by a Nephite in a day and a half—from the “east to the west sea.” Can you measure in your mind how far you could walk in a day and a half during a normal “journey”? You could come pretty close.
    The problem in understanding is that we have no starting point in the east. So, if the theorists are correct, Mormon is telling us that from some unknown point in the east, it is only a day and a half journey for a Nephite on the line or boundary of Bountiful to the West Sea.
Mormon is answering his own question about the width of the narrow neck of land, but telling us that a Nephite could cross the small neck in a-day-and-a-half 

Now, really, would Mormon pick an unknown or unlisted place in the east from which a future reader was to estimate the distance to the West Sea—that is, to know how wide was the narrow neck of land?
    Of this, the Mesoamericanist James L. Allen writes, in his criticism of John L. Sorenson: “Sorenson makes another error when he misreads ‘on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea’ as ‘on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east [sea] to the west sea.’ Or, in his words, as noted previously, ‘From the east to the west sea’ seems to me probably the equivalent of ‘from the east sea to the west sea.’ The outcome of this error is that Sorenson thinks the narrow neck of land extends from the east sea to the west sea.’ That is not what Alma 22:32 says. The wording is merely “from the east to the west sea.”
    So what Allen, and many other theorists try to tell us, is that while Mormon is giving us an understanding of the width of the narrow neck of land, he is not giving us a starting point by which to evaluate this measurement—thus, rendering his measurement meaningless.
    Now, really, does that make sense?
    Does anyone really think Mormon would have done that?
    Yet, Allen goes on to insist: “The Book of Mormon does not say “from the east sea to the west sea” but merely says “on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea.” He goes on to then say, “This aspect of Alma 22:32 deals with a defensive line “from the east to the west sea” rather than with the distance across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec from the east sea to the west sea. Again, Mormon says nothing about the distance across the narrow neck of land. Further, nowhere else in the Book of Mormon can readers find anything about the distance across the narrow neck of land. Mormon does say something about the length of the defensive lines on two different occasions—a day and a half’s journey in Alma 22:32 and a day’s journey in Helaman 4:7.”
    First of all, as we have discussed on many occasions, this statement in Alma 22:32 has nothing to do with a defensive military line and is not stated in a defensive context at all, but in the sense of an overall topographical dialogue. Mormon is describing this area between the Land Northward and the Land Southward “on the line Bountiful,” that is, on the line between Bountiful and the Land Desolation, with the narrow neck all that kept the Land of Zarahemla (including the Land of Bountiful) and the Land of Nephi from being surrounded by water (Alma 22:32). Thus, this is a boundary line, and Mormon is discussing its width because it is a radically narrow area compared to the rest of the two land masses. 
    The defensive, or military viewpoint is stated in vs 33, in which Mormon writes in summation: “and thus the Nephites in their wisdom, with their guards and their armies, had hemmed in the Lamanites on the south, that thereby they should have no more possession on the north, that they might not overrun the land northward.” He then goes on to add, as his final remark on the topography of the two lands (Lamanite lands and Nephite lands), “Therefore the Lamanites could have no more possessions only in the land of Nephi, and the wilderness round about. Now this was wisdom in the Nephites -- as the Lamanites were an enemy to them, they would not suffer their afflictions on every hand, and also that they might have a country whither they might flee, according to their desires” (Alma 22:34). 
Before and After: Left: Before the geographical changes due to the Crucifixion, with two seas shown; Right: After the Crucifixion when the “there was a great and terrible destruction in the land” and one sea shown after the Andes Mountains rose in the three hours as “there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great” 

It is interesting, as a side note, that Mormon, who is writing 400 years later, chooses to make the point in his insertion that preserving the Land Northward for a “country whither they might flee” is born home when we realize that in Mormon’s time, this Land Northward, became the Nephites last refuge, or country, to which they could flee from the invading Lamanites. The Nephites of an earlier time were well aware of its importance and Mormon, in his time, has come to rely on that judgment for their homeland under the new treaty. 
    However, Allen is still pressing his erroneous point, as he adds, “Those defensive lines must be outside the narrow neck of land but also must be in the vicinity of the south side of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (narrow neck of land) and must relate directly with the Pacific Ocean (west sea).” Here Allen makes four specific assumptions without any supportive rationale:
1. Defensive lines must be outside the narrow neck of land;
2. Defensive lines must be in the vicinity of the south side of the narrow neck;
3. The narrow neck is the isthmus of Tehuantepec; and
4. The Defensive lines must be directly related to the Pacific Ocean.
    The problem is, as shown, when a theorist decides he knows where the Land of Promise is and it does not match the written descriptions of Mormon and others, he ends up seeing his creation or model and evaluating it instead of the scriptural references to the Land of Promise.
    Allen goes on to say that he and his son, Blake, have personally explored an area near the south side of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec that may have implications for the location of the defensive lines of Alma 22:32 and Helaman 4:7. Again, the problem is, with minds made up, they combine two descriptions of lines when they refer to two different things. First, as mentioned above, the line in Alma 22:32 has to do with the division between the Land Northward and the Land South and the narrow neck of land in between, describing the configuration and giving us a rough idea of its width—that is, it is a boundary—this is somewhat comparable to the boundary between Provo and Salt Lake being the Point of the Mountain (though today that is slowly disappearing). It is not a line, but a theoretical boundary or division between two places.
    In addition, the statement in Helaman 4:7 is a military line of defense, which states: “And there they did fortify against the Lamanites, from the west sea, even unto the east; it being a day's journey for a Nephite, on the line which they had fortified and stationed their armies to defend their north country” (emphasis added).
This military line, or stone wall, is located in the northern part of Peru, following the River Santa from the coast to the mountains—the region is very mountainous and the wall is located on the hillsides of the valley, with the Santa River marking the end of the Santa Valley. The Shippee-Johnson expedition that originally photographed the wall from both the air and ground, estimated that the wall in its original form had been 12-15 feet thick and 12-15 feet high, but in some places as high as 20 feet which still stands today. The wall was described as made out of broken rocks and adobe cement and writes that is was very smooth in the places where the surface was still intact. They also stated that “Clearly the wall with its double line of forts was erected as a defensive barrier” and later analysis places the construction between 900 and 200 B.C. 

Allen goes on to emphasize an ambiguous eastern point when he states: “Since the initial publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830, many of its readers have routinely wanted a Nephite to cross from ocean to ocean in a day and a half. This verse does not say that. It does not say from the east sea to the west sea. It says “from the east to the west sea.” It simply states that the east orientation is the dividing line between Bountiful and Desolation.”
    So if that is true, what is the “east orientation”? Does he mean a canyon, a mountain, a river, a military post, or what? If he is not going to tell us what that eastern point is, then why bring it up, since it is not helpful or even of any value to know it is in the east.
    In addition, the verse in Helaman does not say anything about an eastern point at all. It gives no indication of the east in anyway, though it is describing the narrow neck of land which is mentioned earlier in Mormon’s insertion.
    Lastly, on this, Allen states: “The west orientation is the west sea, which we believe is the Pacific Ocean by the Gulf of Tehuantepec. According to our model, the day-and-a-half marker begins near the archaeological site of Tonala (candidate for the city of Melek) on the east and ends at the ocean fishing village of Paredon on the west.
    Once again, having his own model in mind, he then goes on to tell us what the scriptural record states and means, adding, “The distance is twelve miles, which is consistent with Maya travel distance of eight miles a day—or twelve miles in a day and a half.”
    If travel of a Nephi was only 8 miles in a day, that indeed would be something of interest for by all other accounts, such a low distance is never stated elsewhere except in Allen’s mind, unless the topography is very difficult. It took Balboa three weeks to cross the Isthmus of Panama—a distance of about 30 miles. But it took Alma 21 days to get from the Waters of Mormon to Zarahemla—at eight miles a day making that distance only 168 miles apart, which is a considerably short distance to separate these two warring societies.
(See the next post, “Is Mormon Playing Games With Us? – Part II, for more information on James L. Allen’s critique of John L. Sorenson, both Mesoamericanists, of the latter’s claims about his location for the Land of Promise in Mesoamerica)