Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Great Lakes Theory

As was extensively discussed in recent posts, the Great Lakes Theory of the location for the Land of Promise is fraught with many holes, not the least of which is how they would have traveled there.

Lehi informed his posterity before his death: “And it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance” (2 Nephi 1:8). One can only wonder if the Lehi Colony left form the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in 600 B.C., what other peoples along the route might have thought.

According to Corinna Riva in “Mediterranean Urbanization, between the second half of the eighth and the end of the seventh centuries B.C., more than a century before Lehi set sail, movements of human groups in search of trading partners and material goods, land and resources, and new lives and opportunities increased the level of interaction between Mediterranean regions. As constant communication was established through long-distance travel and trade, the Mediterranean Sea became an open stage for the international exchange of cultural stimuli among groups.

At this time, along the eastern Mediterranean, the sea-going Greeks were developing mathematics and astronomy, and from 700 B.C. onward cities were being established in the western part of the Mediterranean Sea. The Dorians entered the mainland part of Greece, and the Ionians settled at the Eastern part, the Mycenae settled in Crete, Italy, Cyprus and Sicily.

Trade routes were established all across the Mediterranean. Banished leaders were founding colonies along the coastal regions, slaves were being acquired around the Mediterranean, and Greek colonists were spreading up and down the Mediterranean Sea. In 753 B.C., Rome was founded by Romulus, and the Greeks established a colony at Cuma, and in 600 B.C. the Forum was built.

Beginning in 1550 B.C., the Phoenicians were an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean, and having mastered the art of navigation, dominated the Mediterranean Sea trade for over 500 years in their galleys and invented biremes. Their sailing ventures carried them to Africa and Europe. The high point of Phoenician culture and sea power existed before, during, and after Lehi set sail.

It seems obvious that any different looking and differently built sailing ship (1 Nephi 18:1-2), whose timbers were worked with “curious workmanship,” and “were not worked after the manner of men,” and whose overall building “was not after the manner of men,” would have drawn curious investigators while it was being built among a thoroughly settled area of the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and would have certainly drawn a following as it proceeded across the Mediterranean on its voyage to the Land of Promise.

If no one else, certainly the Phoenicians, long experienced in open sea exploration, would have wanted to follow the Lehi Colony to see where they were going. How then can we say that the Lord kept his promise to keep the land hidden from other nations if the Lehi Colony left “via the Mediterranean Sea”?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Understanding Joseph Smith’s Translation

Daniel Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language was published in 1828, at the time Joseph Smith was translating the Gold Plates. Since both men were of New England, it is likely that they had the same basic understanding of the words and language we find in the Book of Mormon.

Webster’s dictionary was produced during the years when the American home, church and school were established upon a Biblical and patriotic basis, and made important contributions to an American educational system that kept the nation upon a Christian Constitutional course for many years.

He spearheaded the flood of educational volumes emphasizing Christian Constitutional values for more than a century. It is not surprising, therefore, that the 1828 American Dictionary should contain the greatest number of Biblical definitions given in any secular volume.

As Webster pointed out in the Preface of his dictionary, “It is not only important, but, in a degree necessary, that the people of this country, should have an American Dictionary of the English Language; for, although the body of the language is the same as in England, and it is desirable to perpetuate that sameness, yet some differences must exist. Language is the expression of ideas; and if the people of one country cannot preserve an identity of ideas, they cannot retain an identity of language.”

Following the Preface, Webster spends 48 pages in an introduction showing how words in most of the earth’s languages interact, and how they developed, and how they affect the words of other languages. He then spends a like amount of pages in outlining the grammar of the English language. His dedication, strong religious background, and firm belief in Judean/Christian ethics, principles, and Constitutional government might suggest that he was one of the Lord’s chosen emissaries to come forth at the time he did to carry out a work that would prove extremely important to the country as a whole, and to the restoration of the gospel specifically.

It would be imprudent for anyone who wants to understand the language Joseph Smith knew when translating the plates, not to recognize the placement of Noah Webster in the same general area of New England in which young Joseph grew to manhood. It would also be imprudent not to recognize the Lord’s hand in preserving the language known to the prophet and in which he translated the Book of Mormon, for later generations.

Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary, besides being a masterpiece of religious preservation in our language, gives us the exact language known at the time the prophet, Joseph was translating and, therefore, the exact meanings Joseph would have meant regarding the English equivalent of the reformed Egyptian written on the plates. Therefore, it is expedient for us to both obtain this extremely wonderful dictionary, and to use it in conjunction with reading the Book of Mormon.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Lehi’s Manifest Destiny

According to many historical writers, Manifest Destiny is a term that was used in the 19th century to designate the belief that the United States was destined, even divinely ordained, to expand across the North American continent, from the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes Manifest Destiny was interpreted so broadly as to include the eventual absorption of all North America: Canada, Mexico, Cuba and Central America. Advocates of Manifest Destiny believed that expansion was not only ethical but that it was readily apparent ("manifest") and inevitable ("destiny"). Although initially used as a catch phrase to inspire the United States' expansion across the North American continent, the 19th century phrase eventually became a standard historical term.

Interestingly enough, the idea of a divinely inspired beginning to the United States is certainly found in Nephi’s writing (1 Nephi 13:12-20). One might also suggest that the humble beginnings of the Lehi Colony of a small number of people who started a nation in Chile, South America, in the land of First Inheritance, that grew and expanded across a land, moving northward from one end to the other, as having a Manifest Destiny. This destiny moved them to migrate northward, into Central America, and eventually to spread across all of North America.

By the time the United States had its humble beginnings, the posterity of Lehi had spread throughout the Western Hemisphere. Nephi was promised that a mixture of his seed and the seed of his brethren would not entirely be destroyed (1 Nephi 13:30-31) by this new wave of people (gentiles) that appeared in Nephi’s vision, which eventually would become “one” people (1 Nephi 13:3435; 41).

The belief that Mesoamerican Theorists have of Lehi’s posterity being mostly in Central America, and the Great Lakes Theorists have of his posterity being mostly in northeast United States, or the other theories of limited expanse (Baja California, Malay Peninsula, Australia, Caribbean, etc.), miss the point of the establishment of the Western Hemisphere. Whether one wants to use the term Manifest Destiny, the point is the Lord foresaw this development and expansion and the eventual settlement of all the Western Hemisphere. This expanded, chosen land was reserved by Him for the use of his people who lived righteously and obeyed Him as the God of this Land (Ether 13:2). One could certainly call it a Manifest Destiny, much larger in scope than the United States alone, but the Manifest Destiny of the entire Western Hemisphere.

Painting Of U.S. Manifest Destiny by John Gast

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Economy of the Lord

Contrary to popular belief among many, all three Book of Mormon groups that were led to the Land of Promise, left from the same shore in southern Arabia. First, the Jaredites, who made their way across the desert from Mesopotamia to the shore where they languished for four years before building the submersible barges that took them across the “Great Deep.” Next came the Lehi Colony, the forebears of the Nephites and Lamanites, who left from this same shore after building a ship in a place they called Bountiful. Then came the Mulekites about ten years later, who were also led across the desert to this southern Arabian shore where they obviously built a ship and sailed to the Land of Promise.

While we only know for certain the path Lehi took across the desert, moving southeast along the eastern shore of the Red Sea and then turning eastward and crossing a most inhospitable desert to the seashore. In the economy of the Lord, the other two colonies arrived at this same area from which they journeyed across the oceans to the Land of Promise. An area along the southern Arabian coast the Jaredites first prepared and the other two groups enjoyed.

When the Lehi Colony reached the shore, they found a land of “fruit and honey” and all things that were “prepared of the Lord that we might not perish” (1 Nephi 17:5), and they called it Bountiful “because of its much fruit” (1 Nephi 17:6). Now, in an area where there is little record of previous occupation after the Flood, one might ask who prepared this area with fruit and honey that the Lehi Colony might not perish? Living today among grocery stores and convenient fast food outlets, we often forget that anciently, newcomers to unoccupied areas sometimes starved for lack of food before seeds could be planted and crops harvested.

1500 years before the Lehi Colony arrived along the seashore, the Jaredites had spent four years there, planting and harvesting and feeding a colony that would have numbered around 150 people—24 couples, each with four children would be 120, and given the Jaredites tendency toward very large families (Ether 6:20; 7:2), the numbers could have been closer to 200 (with 7 children per family). In any event, the honey bees the Jaredites took with them (Ether 2:2), would have multiplied in great numbers and some left behind when loading the barges, which would suggest why there are numerous ancient honey-combed caves along this single area of the Arabian coast from which the Lehi Colony is said to have set sail. And, of course, the Jaredites would have planted from their “seeds of every kind” (Ether 2:3), which would explain the abundance of fruit in the area the Nephites called Bountiful.

This economy of the Lord is the same type of thinking that led the group Brigham Young took across the plains to Utah, to plant some seeds along the way, so that the second group, led by my great grandfather some months later, could harvest to supplement their food supplies enroute.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

More Than Where Cities Are Located

Book of Mormon geography, as suggested by Mesoamerican theorists, mostly entails the location of cities and where lakes and rivers of the scriptures are located in modern Central America. Little, if any, thought is given to how the Nephites could have reached their Land of Promise and, therefore, to know where it was located.

Nephi gives us a clue as to the direction they traveled when they left Bountiful and set sail into Irreantum when he said the ship he had built, which was not built after the manner of men (1 Nephi 18:2), was a sailing ship with a fixed sail designed to run before the wind (1Nephi 18:8,9). Obviously, then to find the Land of Promise, looking for cities and rivers is meaningless until we find out where the winds would have taken his ship.

A careful study of the Dominant Winds in the Arabian Sea show that from January to June they blow south by southwest from the coast of the Arabian peninsula toward Africa and Madagascar. As they pass Madagascar, they swirl to the south and southeast toward the southern portion of the Indian Ocean, where they flow into the Prevailing Westerlies and West Wind Drift that sweep to the east, passing south of New Zealand and out across the Pacific Ocean. Since the winds in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean blow inland, in the opposite direction from July to December, it would seem logical that the Lehi Colony could only have set sail during the first six months of the year. Later, from July to December, the winds would have driven their craft back toward the land.

In addition to the dominant winds blowing southwest in the Arabian sea from January to June, there are monsoon winds that blow to the east of the African Coast and Madagascar. These monsoon winds blow south from November to February, and north from April to September. This suggests that the Lehi Colony would have had to leave Bountiful sometime between January and April.

And once in the water, the winds would have driven them in a single direction, and that was to the Southern Ocean, then past Australia and New Zealand, and across the Pacific to the Western Hemisphere. From there, northward in the Humboldt (Peruvian) Current to the 30º south latitude where the winds and currents die out completely and landfall would be essential. If the ship stayed out to sea, eventually the winds and currents pick up and would have taken the ship back across the Pacific in the gyre of the South Equatorial Current toward the west.

Before anyone picks a site for the Land of Promise, one must determine where Lehi’s ship, given Nephi’s descriptive information, would have sailed. One cannot just say a ship could have sailed anywhere in 600 B.C. “driven forth before the wind.” Not even experienced seamen could travel across the Pacific from west to east, as Mesoamerican Theorists like to claim Lehi did, as late as the 16th-Century, let alone in 600 B.C.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Anti-Deluvians

History records three separate settlements of the American continents from creation down to the present time. They are:

1. The Anti-Diluvians. These are those who occupied the land which is now the western hemisphere prior to the flood, from Adam down to Noah's time. (Doc. Sal. vol.3, p 74; Ether 13:3)

2. Middle East Immigrants in B.C. times. Three specific groups were led by the Spirit to the land of promise and who reached similar but different locations in the western hemisphere. These were: 1) the Jaredites (Ether 6:12); 2) the Lehi colony (1 Nephi 18:23); and, 3) the Mulekites (Omni 1:15).

3. The Spanish Conquistadors and European Settlers. These were the people of discovery, of conquest and of settlement who arrived in the western hemisphere between 1492 and the latter 18th century (and continuing down to the present time).

Scientists claim the only group that migrated to the Americas came across a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska in prehistoric times. However, based upon historical fact, including written histories and archaeological "hard" evidence, there is no mention, proof, or even suggestion of a Siberian/Asian people or any other peoples reaching the middle to southern western hemisphere other than the three outlined above.

It should be understood, then, that the Anti-Diluvian people of the patriarchal lineage from Adam down to Noah, who built cities (Genesis 14:17), designed musical instruments (Genesis 4:21), and worked ores of all kind (Genesis 4:22), would have left numerous signs of their existence that not even the Great Flood could have completely obliterated. Therefore, artifacts and other prehistoric signs should and have been found throughout the western hemisphere.

But since the world's professionals have always maintained that man's first existence originated in the eastern hemisphere, they have no way of explaining the evidence of people inhabiting the Americas in prehistoric times except to create a migration over a so-called Siberian/Alaskan land bridge. Yet, despite all evidence of a south to north development of early mankind from about 2000 B.C. onward, many scientists, anthropologists, archaeologists and historians maintain their belief in a north to south movement of earliest man in the western hemisphere, and discredit any Anti-Diluvian source for prehistoric findings.

Thus, these professionals claim man’s first settlements in the Western Hemisphere date to 10,000to 13,000 years B.C., and before, when we know that the current development of these areas began with the Jaredites around 2100 B.C. When scientists ignore one of the most crucial events, the Great Flood of Noah, that changed history and created a second beginning, their findings and dates are skewed far into the erroneous zone of useless dating and beliefs.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ancient Peruvian Observatory

Chankillo is an ancient monumental complex about ten miles inland in the Peruvian coastal desert, found in the southern Casma River Drainage complexes of the Casma-Sechin Oasis in the Ancash Department of Peru, and the perfect place for an ancient observatory.

The ruins include the hilltop Chankillo fort, the nearby Thirteen Towers solar observatory, and residential and gathering areas. The Thirteen Towers are obviously situated as a solar observatory built in the 4th century B.C. The entire site covers about one-and-a-half square miles and is believed to be a fortified temple.

The Thirteen Towers of Chankillo run north to south along a ridge of a low hill and are regularly spaced, forming a "toothed" horizon with narrow gaps at regular intervals. To the east and west investigators found two observation points. From these vantages, the 1,000-foot-long spread of the towers along the horizon corresponds very closely to the rising and setting positions of the Sun through the year. This obviously infers that some activities of the ancient Peruvian civilization may have been regulated by a solar calendar.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What Were the Curelom and the Cumom?

When Moroni abridged the 24 gold plates Ether left behind after the last, great battle of the Jaredites, he used the names curelom and cumom to indicate two animals that were “useful unto man.” (Ether 9:19) While mentioning horses and asses, Moroni tells us that the more useful animals were the “elephants and cureloms and cumoms.” Obviously, then, these two animals that were unknown to Joseph Smith in 1830, were very useful to the Jaredites as either beasts of burden, a food supply, or for their hides or skins. And it stands to reason they would have also been known to, and used by, the Nephites.

While there are a lot of animals and birds that are unique to Central and South America, and not found in any of the northern latitudes of the Western Hemisphere, only a few could be considered of great worth to an ancient people. And when Moroni likens their worth to that of the elephant, it must be assumed that these two creatures were indeed of great value. However, while there are no such animals found in Mesoamerica, there are two very specific animals along the Andes in South America that meet these scriptural requirements, and they are the domesticated camelids called the Llama and Alpaca.

Typical inhabitants of the Andes, these camelid have for the past 5,000 years served as a source of food, clothing and as a beast of burden for the early Jaredites and later Nephites. Moreover, the animal is a quintessential part of the personality of the highlands, and has wielded a major influence as beasts of burden and transport which has caused the llama and the alpaca to be two of the dominant species in the Andean area at the time of the conquest. Today, neither the llama nor the alpaca exists in the wild, though their cousins, the guanaco and the vicuna do.

The larger of the two domesticated camelids, the llama, is primarily a beast of burden, while the shaggy alpaca is valuable for its wool. Neither animal is strong enough to pull a plough or drag a cart—but serve the more important role of providing food, transportation, and clothing.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

What Were Neas and Sheum?

When Zeniff and his people returned to reclaim the City of Lehi-Nephi (Mosiah 9:3), they planted corn, wheat, barley, neas and sheum (Mosiah 9:9). Book of Mormon scholars have for years tried to determine what these two crops were, obviously unknown to Joseph Smith in 1830. Zeniff groups the seeds his people planted into two categories: 1) grains, and 2) fruits (Mosiah 9:9). This probably suggests that neas and sheum were some type of grain, since they are grouped with corn, wheat and barley. And interestingly enough, there are two previously unknown crops found recently in the Andes called Quinoa and Kawicha while there are no unknown crops in Mesoamerican.

These two grains found in Peru and Ecuador, are indigenous to the region and have been cultivated there for more than 4,000 years, and today are considered nutritionally as supergrains. Quinoa has excellent reserves of protein, and unlike other grains, is not missing the amino acid lysine, so the protein is more complete (a trait it shares with other "non-true" grains such as buckwheat and amaranth). Kiwicha's grains are scarcely bigger than poppy seeds. However, they occur in huge numbers sometimes more than 100,000 to a plant. Like other amaranth grains, they are flavorful and, when heated, they pop to produce a crunchy white product that tastes like a nutty popcorn. Light and crisp, it is delicious as a snack, as a cold cereal with milk and honey, as a "breading" on chicken or fish, or in sweets with a whisper of honey. The grain is also ground into flour, rolled into flakes, "puffed," or boiled for porridge.

As an example, Quinoa, of all similar grains, is highest in fat, highest in zinc, highest in calcium, and only beans and wheat are higher in potassium, only barley is higher in sodium, only wheat is higher in protein, only barley, oats and rice are higher in raw fiber, and only rye, corn, and barley are higher in carbohydrates. Nutritionally, Quinoa has more protein than milk, and is considered a perfect grain because it can be grown at heights and in temperatures where other grains have great difficulty.

Are these grains the neas and sheum mentioned by Zeniff? It is not known, however, it is interesting that in the Andes there are these and other grains that have a long history dating into BC times, but since the early 16th Century, have long been forgotten. That neas and sheum were unknown crops in Joseph Smith’s day is supported by the fact he used the original names in his translation of the plates, unable to use a common name for them based on the lack of knowledge of his day. It is also interesting that Quinoa and Kiwicha are considered grains of superior nutritional value that, until the last quarter of the 20th Century, were relatively unknown anywhere else in the world outside the Andes.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Carbon-14 Time Clock in Error

Willard F. Libby, of the University of Chicago, the brilliant discoverer of the method of measuring radiocarbon dating of carbon-14, found through his own experimentation, that the earth was younger than 30,000 years since his own experiments showed that C-14 was not in equilibrium. That is, the earth was not old enough for the buildup carbon-14 to reach equilibrium, which would take only 30,000 years. Melvin A. Cook found that using Libby’s methods when comparing it to non-equilibrium basis, dates the earth to about 10,000 to 12,000 years of age. The question few ever ask, is why did Willard F. Libby assume the earth was in equilibrium when his experiments showed it was not?

First, the entire concept of the clock is based upon many assumptions, one of which is that it is assumed the ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 has been constant for a very long time before the industrial revolution, when it was upset forcibly by the burning of huge masses of coal that released massive quantities of carbon-12 into the air. But for these assumption to be correct, upon which hangs the entire validity of this time clock and the entire system in general, the ratio had to remain the same since the specimen being measured first came into being. The question few ever ask, is why did Willard F. Libby assume this?

Secondly, the concept of equilibrium regarding carbon-14 in the world is most crucial since it is used to determine age. Equilibrium means there is an equality that is evenly balanced regarding the amount of carbon-14 forming in the earth as a whole from the bombardment of cosmic ray protons, producing neutrons which in turn bombard nitrogen, which produces the radioactive isotope carbon-14, which then decays by emission of an electron of energy, changing the carbon-14 to nitrogen-14. At equilibrium with the atmosphere, a gram of carbon shows an activity of about 15 decays per minute. It has been estimated that it would take only about 30,000 years (from the “beginning”) to reach this equilibrium stage where the amount of formation is, and remains, equal to the amount of decay. In this sense, carbon-14 formation appears to be constant, which allows for the measurement of time elapse to be made. Therefore, this equilibrium, or “steady state,” is reached with the formation and decay amounts are equal. Consequently, if the world’s carbon-14 is in equilibrium, then the earth is over 30,000 years old—if equilibrium has not yet been reached, then the earth is younger than 30,000 years old.

Thirdly, in all his measurements, Libby found that carbon-14 was entering the system some twelve per cent (12%) or more faster than it was leaving. This would indicate that the system was less than 30,000 years old, since a steady-state, or equilibrium, had not yet been reached. He called this within experimental error, but the fact is, Libby’s own experiments still showed that carbon-14 was building up on the Earth, thus proving that the planet was less than 30,000 years old. A fact he, and almost all other scientists of his day and since, have chosen to deliberately ignore.

Yet, understanding this concept allows interested people in Book of Mormon geography to understand carbon-14 dates used in Mesoamerica and the Andes and to make comparisons. While the date itself is undoubtedly wrong, the comparison between dates is important. That is, 3000 B.C. dating in Mesoamerica is obviously younger than 5,600 B.C. dating in Peru. This scientific fallacy of carbon-14 dating, and numerous other fallacies is thoroughly illustrated in my book: "Scientific Fallacies & Other Myths."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ancient Canals in Early Andean Civilization

Canals discovered in the Peruvian Andes dating back over 5,400 years offer long-sought proof that irrigation was at the heart of the development of one of the earth's first civilizations.
The discovery by Vanderbilt University anthropologist Tom Dillehay, distinguished professor of anthropology and chair of the department, and his colleagues reported in the Nov. 22, 2005, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The anthropologists discovered the canals in Peru's upper middle Zana Valley, approximately 60 kilometers east of the Pacific coast. Preliminary results indicate one of the canals is over 6,700 years old, while another has been confirmed to be over 5,400 years old. They are the oldest such canals yet discovered in the Americas.

"Peru is one of the few places on the planet where there was independent development of civilization. One of the signatures of the beginning of civilization and complex society is intensive agriculture, where you have not only crops but also irrigation technology. “It was believed that elementary irrigation technology was always missing from early Andean civilization, however, we found it by looking farther up the valley away from the coastal plains and by excavating more deeply."

Anthropologists first discovered the canals in 1989 and have been working since to uncover the broader picture of the canals and the civilization that they supported. "Our findings indicate that people were building these canals and creating artificial wetlands and essentially garden plots in the Andes over 5,400 years ago—and this was an important moment for this civilization as it established a codependency between the crops and the people, which allowed and encouraged larger groups of people to begin to settle down in one place.”

The team uncovered four canals ranging in length from one to four kilometers, which were narrow, symmetric, shallow and U-shaped. They were lined with stones and small pebbles, and appear to be individually designed to take advantage of different periods of water availability. The canals were built along the edge of a terrace above a nearby stream and used gravity to deliver water downhill to the agricultural fields. A striking feature of the canals is that they are located on a very slight slope, indicating that their builders were able to engineer them to function hydraulically in a relatively sophisticated manner.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lost in the Wilderness

“Now king Limhi had sent, previous to the coming of Ammon, a small number of men to search for the land of Zarahemla; but they could not find it, and they were lost in the wilderness” (Mosiah 21:25)

Some scholars, such as John L. Sorenson, claim the 43-man expedition Limhi sent to find Zarahemla, when passing through the narrow neck of land into the Land Northward after becoming lost in the wilderness, could have seen the ocean on either side of their passage had this neck of land been very narrow, thus justifying his 144-mile wide narrow neck in Mesoamerica. Other scholars have suggested the problem with these Nephites becoming lost at all, while others want to know why didn’t they simply climb to higher ground to find out where they were.

As this picture shows, had the expedition been moving through a valley such as this between very high mountains on either side, which is the case throughout most of Peru and Ecuador, it is understandable that 1) they might have become lost, since following such a course would take them where the valley went, not necessarily where they intended to go, 2) with high mountains on either side, one cannot see beyond the valley to either side to see whether they were passing through a narrow neck of land or not, and 3) these mountains on ether side are not easily scaled.

The fact that numerous narrow valleys such as this one are found throughout the Land of Promise in the Andean area, allows us to make perfect sense out of simple scriptural language, such as “they were lost in the wildnerness” and that they ended up far to the north of the city of Lehi-Nephi, from which they came, since movement through valleys, especially elongated valleys such as this one, can take one many miles out of the way before the end of the valley is reached and a new course decided upon

Part of the problem in understanding scripture and the Book of Mormon geography, is in interpreting circumstances based upon our current life style and conditions. However, in Book of Mormon times, there were no street signs, maps, aerial photography, etc., to help people understand where they were going and what the land they passed through really looking like beyond their line of sight, which, as this picture shows, could have been very limited.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Andean Metalworking before Mesoamerica

Nephi wrote: “And I did teach my people to work…iron and copper, and brass, and steel, and gold, and silver, and precious ores which were in great abundance.” (2 Nephi 5:15)

Discovery of small pieces of copper and gold foil at Mina Perdida, south of Lima, Peru, has pushed back the date of the earliest metalworking in the Andes to at least 1100 B.C., with Bruhns claiming as early as 2155 to 1936 B.C. Metallurgy in Mesoamerica, on the other hand, was not known before the Christian era 1st-Century A.D.)

The copper and gold artifacts were recovered in excavations at Mina Perdida shows that artisans hammered native metals into thin foils, in some cases with intermediate anneals. They gilded copper artifacts by attaching gold foil. The artifacts show that fundamental elements of the Andean metallurgical tradition were developed before the Chavín horizon, and shed light on the origins of the spectacular metalwork of the Chavín (900-200 B.C.) and Moche (A.D. 50-800) cultures, and that on the Peruvian coast the working of native copper preceded the production of smelted copper objects.

Excavations directed by Yale University archaeologists Richard L. Burger and Lucy Salazar-Burger have revealed a flat-topped 72-foot-high pyramid and two lower platform mounds in a U-shaped configuration around a plaza, as well as residential areas. The foil fragments were found on one platform mound, the pyramid's summit, and a terrace immediately behind the pyramid, but not in the residential areas. Radiocarbon dates of materials associated with the copper are between ca. 1500 and 1100 B.C.

Analysis by Robert Gordon of Yale's department of geology and geophysics showed the copper to be 99.5 percent pure. The presence of arsenic and silver (commonly found in native copper) and absence of iron (present in higher concentrations in smelted coppers) suggests the Mina Perdida metal is native copper. Small veins of gold and copper do crop out along the coast of central Peru. Elongated grains indicate that the metal was hammered into foil while cold. The artifacts suggest that an early metalworking stage, employing naturally occurring metals, was the basis for later developments in the region.

Richard L. Burger, Peabody Museum of Natural History and Department of Anthropology, Yale University, and Robert B. Gordon, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, Archaeology, publication of the Archaeological Institute of America, Newsbriefs, Volume 52 Number 1, January/February 1999. An article by Mark Rose; picture by Richard L. Burger.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Location of the City and Land of Nephi

Sacsayhuaman to the north and Tiahuanaco to the south, with Lake Titicaca and the city of Cuzco in between, was probably the area settled by Nephi and “those who would go with him” (2 Nephi 5:6) when he fled from his brothers shortly after Lehi died. This land, they called “the Land of Nephi” (2 Nephi 5:8) was the specific area where Nephi taught his people to build buildings” (2 Nephi 5:15), and in which cities, fortifications and a temple “rivaling Solomon’s” was built (2 Nephi 5:16). Later, all the land south of Zarahemla was referred to as the Land of Nephi, though originally the area of first landing, which the Lamanites referred to as “the land of their inheritance,” would not have had that name to the Lamanites.

Eventually, this southern portion of the Land Southward, was divided between the lands of Nephi and Zarahemla, where a narrow strip of wilderness ran from the east sea to the west sea, and called the Land South or the Land of Lehi, and the Land North or the Land of Mulek (Helaman 6:10).

The misunderstanding of this latter division and name (Land South and Land North) has caused Mesoamerican Theorists to believe that the Mulekites first settled in the Land Northward, that is the land beyond Desolation, above the narrow neck of land which divided the Land Northward from the Land Southward. This misunderstanding has also led to the belief that the Olmec of southeastern Mexico were the Jaredites. However, more accurate reading of the scritpures indicating where Mulek landed and where the Land Northward was located, shows the fallacy of this idea.

Amaleki, an eye witness to the first encounter of the Mulekites by Mosiah, states specifically that they had first landed in the area of Zarahemla (in the Land Southward) "where Mosiah found them," and had lived there ever since (Omni 1:15-16). Also, the concept of two lands (north and south) was not really known to the Nephites, who had never ventured northward beyond the Land of Bountiful. Thus, describing the Land North and the Land South, this division had to do with the Land Southward and nothing to do with the yet undiscovered Land Northward.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Narrow Neck of Land

“And thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward” (Alma 22:32)

According to Bingley, the Bay of Guayaquil in Ecuador, just north of the border with Peru, is very extensive, and contains several islands, and an excellent harbor for the building of ships and being a center for shipping. It’s commercial use was established as early as the late 16th Century, and has been a business port ever since, with good anchorage for ships opposite to the town at the distance of about a league from the mouth of the river.

The road from Quito to Guayaquil lies partly through a boggy tract, partly along the banks of a river, and partly among mountains, rocks and precipices. Even today, the woods around are infested with “noxious” animals (Rev. William Bingley, (compilation of travelers) printed by John Sharpe, London, 1820, Travels in South America 1823, p 187-188 (Harvard College Library—a gift of Luther S. Livingston, Cambridge, Nov. 10, 1914).

The Guayas River merges into this main port, which has an island called Puná, a beautiful and colorful island about 26 miles from the current city of Guayaquil in this large bay. A strong ocean current flows into this bay, allowing easy ingress at certain times of the day, and flows outward providing excellent egress at others, allowing early galleons access to this excellent port.

Sometimes called a gulf, this bay separates the land in a very noticeable and geographic sense with the most eastern shoreline of the bay less than thirty miles from the rising of the Andes, providing a narrow pass or neck of land between the ocean and the steep, unscaleable peaks that now rise sharply thousands of feet into the air along this cordillera of recently risen mountains.

In Book of Mormon times, before the Andes were raised up (“like a cork,” according to geologists), this was the border of the East Sea, making this a narrow neck of land dividing the Land Northward from the Land Southward (Alma 50:34), “from the east to the west sea,” and being a “journey of a day and a half for a Nephite” (Alma 22:32). Within this protected harbor, “Nephite shipping and their building of ships,” occurred (Helaman 3:14), and Hagoth built his shipyards and constructed numerous ships that took some 5,400 emigrant men, including their wives and children, to a “Land which was northward” (Alma 63:4-6).

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mountains Whose Height is Great

At the time of Christ’s death, so those of the house of Israel inhabiting the isles of the sea, would know of this event “mountains shall be carried up” (1 Nephi 19:10-11) “and the face to the whole earth became deformed” (3 Nephi 8:17) “And the earth was carried up upon the city of Moronihah that in the place of the city there became a great mountain” (3 nephi 8:10) “And there shall be many mountains laid low, like unto a valley, and there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great” (Helaman 14:23)

The Andes are new mountains, having recently attained their present height by vertical upheaval of the entire strip of the Earth's crust. They have been greatly affected by weathering; rivers have cut deep gorges, and glaciers have produced characteristic valleys. The majority of the individual mountains are volcanic; some are still active.
This great mountain system or cordillera that forms the western fringe of South America, extends through the republics of Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. At 5,000 miles in length, it is the longest mountain range in the world, and its peaks exceed 12,000 feet in height for half that length, with an average breadth of 150 miles, rising at many points to more than 22,000 feet.

A geologically young system, the Andes are still rising, with volcanoes and earthquakes very common. The folded ranges are discontinuous—merging and bifurcating within the system—but as a whole they form one of the world's most important mountain masses. They are loftier than any other mountains except the Himalayas, and their waters reach the Orinoco, the Amazon, and the Río de la Plata.

The ranges approach each other again in Ecuador, where the North Andes begin. Between two volcanic cordilleras (including the cloud-capped Chimborazo and Cotopaxi) are rich intermontane basins. In Colombia the Andes divide again, the western range running between the coast and the Cauca River, the central between the Cauca and the Magdalena rivers, and the eastern running north parallel to the Magdalena River, then stretching out on the coast into Venezuela. The Andes continue in some of the islands of the West Indies, and in Panama North Andean spurs connecting with the mountains of Central America and thus with the Sierra Madre and the Rocky Mountains of North America, which run another 3,000 miles from Mexico to Alaska, and, indeed, together form the “Land of Everlasting Hills.”

Friday, February 12, 2010

Mysterious Tihuanaco beside Lake Titicaca

Mysterious Tihuanaco may be the world’s oldest city and is one of the mysteries of the Andes of Peru, considered to be wrapped in an enigma. Lying at a height of some 13,000 feet, it sets on a plateau that looks like the surface of a foreign planet. The atmospheric pressure is nearly half as low as at sea level and the oxygen content of the air is similarly small. This isolation and altitude makes the very construction of the city all the more remarkable.

There is evidence that the city was once a port, having extensive docks positioned right on the earlier shoreline of the now inland waterbed that was once at sea level. One of these wharves is big enough to accommodate hundreds of ships. The closest body of water to this seaport city is Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world covering an area of 3200 square miles, being 70 miles wide and 138 miles long, and was once believed to be at sea level before being raised up to this great height.

This inland waterway is littered with millions of fossilised seashells, and features a range of oceanic types, as opposed to freshwater marine life. Creatures brought to the surface in fishermen’s nets have included examples of seahorses. During the 19th Century Professor P. M. Duncan, studying the lake, noted the existence of siluroid, cyprinoid and other oceanic marine fishes in the lake.

According to Incan legends, Tihuanaco was built by a race of tall men whose fatherland had been destroyed in a great deluge that had lasted for two months. Many of Tihuanaco’s buildings were constructed of massive finished stones, many tons in weight, that were placed in such a manner that only a people with advanced engineering methods could have designed and transported them. The particular andesite used in much of the Tihuanaco’s construction can only be found in a quarry 50 miles away in the mountains.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ancient find in Lake Titicaca pre-dates Incas

“And the city of Moroni did sink into the depths of the sea, and the inhabitants thereof were drowned” (3 Nephi 8:9; 9:4). “And many great and notable cities were sunk” (3 Nephi 8:14). “The city of Onihah…Mocum…Jerusalem…and the waters have I caused to come up in the stead thereof, to hide their wickedness” (3 Nephi 9:7)

Legends have persisted over the centuries that there are stone structures beneath the waters of Lake Titicaca, in the Andes between Bolivia and Peru. These ruins are said to be much the same kind as can be found on the lake's shore and in Tihuanaco. The Indians of that region have frequently recounted this tradition, but until recently there has been no proof of such structures.
According to the BBC Online BBC Online, on August 24, 2000, an Italian team of scientists discovered the remains and ruins of a huge temple underwater in Lake Titicaca. Archaeologists from an international expedition 30-member team, Atahuallpa 2000, had made more than 200 dives in the lake. Expedition leader, Lorenzo Epis, said: "We've found what appears to have been a 200-metre-long, 50-metre-wide holy temple, a terrace for crops, a pre-Incan road and a 700-metre-long containing wall.”

The divers followed a submerged road until they arrived at the discoveries, at a depth of about 20 metres. Mr. Simi, of Akakor Geographical Exploring, an Italian cultural association that organized the expedition, said this was the first time top-level divers and professional archaeologists had investigated Titicaca together, adding that it was rare for specialists of both disciplines to work side by side. The team was looking for an underwater temple and found a terrace for crops, a long road and an 800-metre (2,600 feet) long wall under the waters of the lake pre-dating the Incas.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ancient Peruvians Worshipped God

The early Peruvians commonly acknowledged a supreme Lord and Author of all things, which they called Viracocha (Uira-ccocha), and gave him names of great excellence, as Pachacamac (Creator of the World), Pachayachachic (Creator of Heaven and Earth; also Teacher of the World), Tecsi-viracocha, "the incomprehensible God," and Vsapu, which is admirable, and other like names. In Peru they made him a rich temple, which they called Pachacamac (just south of present-day Lima), which was the principal sanctuary of the realm, in which they made sacrifices and offerings to Viracocha.

According to Polo de Ondegardo, when the Spanish first came, the Incas called them Virocochas, for they thought them the sons of heaven (1608 Manuscript in the National Library at Madrid. 4, on parchment, B. 135, p 151).

Garcilasso de la Vega, wrote that the Yncas (Incas) held the Supreme Being, or Creator, in the highest order of their religion. De la Vega, also tells us that, besides the Sun, the Yncas worshipped the true supreme God and Creator; whom they called him Pachacamac, a name signifying "He who gives animation to the universe," or "He who does to the universe what the soul does to the body,” and that they held Him in much greater inward veneration than the Sun; but that they did not build temples to him, nor offer him sacrifices.

Blas Valera, wrote that all subjugated tribes were ordered to worship the most powerful god Ticci-Uira-ccocha, otherwise called Pachacamac; and in another place, he says that the ancient temple of Pachacamac, on the seacoast, was the only one to the Supreme Being throughout the whole of Peru.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Noah's Temple Tower at Sacsayhuaman

“King Noah...fled and ran and got upon the tower which was near the temple. And Gideon pursued after him and was about to get upon the tower to slay the king, and the king cast his eyes around about toward the land of Shemlon, and behold, the army of the Lamanties were within the borders of the land” (Mosiah 19:5-6).

When the Spanish arrived in Peru, they saw a magnificent tower near the temple grounds within the walled city of Sacsayhuaman on the hill overlooking the present city of Cuzco. The view from this tower was significant, not only looking down on the entire valley, but to its extremities and into the passes and entrances that controlled ingress into the ancient city from distance lands.

This cylindrical tower was a building with four superposed floors about 60-feet in height. The successive floors narrowed toward the top, from about twelve feet at the base to about 10 feet at the top, which ended in a conic ceiling. The tower was amazingly worked, so much so it generated the admiration of several chroniclers, who mentioned it at great length, many claiming it was a watch tower because of its view of the entire valley and its many entrances.

The Spaniards destroyed it, in spite of the protests from both contemporary chroniclers Cieza and Inca Garcilaso. Not only was this tower of an exceptional design, it also had a great historic value during the conquest period as Sacsayhuaman was the place where the strongest indigenous resistance against the Spanish conquerors occurred, and where Manco Inca, Titu Cusi Huallpa (also called Cahuide), jumped from its highest part in order to avoid being captured by his enemies.

In Nephite times, it was the tower upon which Noah tried to escape from Gideon, and from where he viewed the approaching Lamanite army. All that is left is the magnificent foundation as shown in the image above.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Peruvian City Oldest in Western Hemisphere

“After the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands a chosen land of the Lord” (Ether 13:2). This land, Lehi was promised, would be kept hidden from other nations as long as his descendants served the Lord and remained righteous. Thus, the Nephites, and the Jaredites before them, were the first to occupy this land after the Flood and up to the Conquest by the Spaniards.

In this land, the recent discovery of a city called Caral is a site that may be the oldest city in the Western Hemisphere. Constructed long before the Christian Era, in what is now the Norte Chico region of Peru, just north of Lima in the Supe Valley, Caral ranks on the short list of regions, along with Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley, as the first to develop what most people would call civilization.

According to the July/August 2005 issue of Archaeology magazine, this site, covering 165 acres, is one of the largest in Peru, a country with the most archaeological sites in South America. The site contains six pyramids, some originally as high as 70 feet, circular plazas and massive monumental architecture—-a style that seems to be the blueprint for subsequent Andean civilizations for many centuries.
Numerous artifacts have been found at the site, including flutes made from pelican and condor bones and cornets fashioned from llama and deer bones, suggesting the site may have heard its share of music.

Experts think Caral's population could have reached 3,000. The site was occupied for perhaps a millennium and then abandoned for some reason. Another city nearby, Aspero, may even be older—-in fact, could be the world’s oldest city.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Great Wall of Peru

“..he was preparing to defend himself against them, by casting up walls round about and preparing places of resort” (Alma 52:6) “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” (Helaman 4:7)

The Ancient Peruvians built a great wall many feet wide, beginning at the coast, and extending for many miles across the mountains and desert toward the east. The wall is north of Huambacho, and though now in a state of ruin, it is considered one of the most ambitious projects undertaken in South American archaeology. Even so, it is rarely mentioned in the literature of the Andes, and is poorly investigated in the field by archaeologists. Perhaps as much as 100 to 150 miles in length, it cannot compare with China's Great Wall, but was a masterpiece of construction. Built at altitudes of 8,000 to 12,000 feet in extremely rugged terrain, it runs along high ridges and is studded with stone forts at strategic intervals.

This wall runs parallel to the Santa River along the beautiful valley of the Santa in the Callejon (corridor) of the Huaylas. Agreed to by archaeologists, it was obviously constructed to keep southern invading armies from overrunning the northern areas of Peru, and was strategically built along precipitous terrain at two miles altitude and gave its defenders the benefit of high ground. Any attacking force would have great difficulty fighting uphill to the wall.

Not observable from the ground because of the rough and often unpenetratable terrain, Shippee and Johnson discovered it and photographed it from the air in 1931, and considered it one of the wonders of the world. Their numerous photographs are now on file with the Huntington Museum and the Smithsonian.The wall was built in B.C. times by the ancient Peruvians, and along its length there were circular and rectangular forts at irregular intervals on both sides of the wall, with most inset on the top of small hills where they were nearly invisible from southern approaches. The fourteen forts overall, the larger ones were located on the south side of the river opposite the wall, with the largest fort being about 300 feet by 200 feet with walls fifteen feet high and five feet thick. Some were of piled stone construction while others were adobe. In many places the wall averages seven feet high and reached 20-30 feet in height where it crossed gullies and stream beds.

A wall with places of resort (a term meaning fort), that began at the West Sea and went inland for many miles, as Alma and Helaman described it, matches perfectly this Great Wall of Peru.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Other 600 B.C. Gold Plates?

According to The Ancient America Foundation, the world's oldest multiple-page book—in the lost Etruscan language—is now on display in Bulgaria's National History Museum in Sofia. As shown in the photograph, this book was created on metal plates that are bound together with metal rings and dates to 600 B.C., about the same time that Lehi and his family left Jerusalem—and the Book of Mormon material was first begun.

The small manuscript, which is more than two and a half millennia old, was discovered 60 years ago in a tomb uncovered during digging for a canal along the Strouma River in southwestern Bulgaria. It has now been donated to the museum by its Madedonian finder. The authenticity of the book has been confirmed by two experts in Sofia and London, according to the museum director Bojidar Dimitrov.

The six sheets of the book are believed to be the oldest comprehensive work involving multiple pages, according to Elka Penkova, who heads the museum's archaeological department. There are around 30 similar pages known in the world, though they are not linked together in a book.

The Etruscans—one of Europe's most mysterious ancient peoples—are believed to have migrated from Lydia, in modern western Turkey, settling in northern and central Italy nearly 3,000 years ago. They were wiped out by the conquering Romans in the fourth century BC, leaving few written records.
This find, demonstrating that bound metal records existed in the Middle East 2500 years ago as claimed by the Book of Mormon.was brought to the attention of the AAF by Jeff Brooks.

Friday, February 5, 2010

And Some Died of Fevers

"And there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land—but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate." (Alma 46:40)

The only natural cure for the serious type of fever, we call malaria, is quinine, made from the natural plant, Chinchona, and was found not only indigenous to the Andes area of Peru, but was the only place in the world this plant grew until the 20th-Century.
First discovered by Europeans soon after the Conquest, it was known by the Quechua Indians who made it known to the Spaniards, having been used as a cure for fevers for centuries, dating back into B.C. times. Even today, the only practical source of natural quinine comes from the bark of these trees.

However, under wartime pressure, research towards its artificial production was undertaken. A formal chemical synthesis was accomplished in 1944 by American chemists R.B. Woodward and W.E. Doering. Since then, several more efficient quinine total syntheses have been achieved, but none can compete in economic terms with isolation of the alkaloid from natural sources. Thus, the bark of trees in this genus is the source of a variety of effective alkaloids, the most familiar of which is quinine. Not only was this of extreme importance to the Nephites and subsequent indigenous Peruvians, but also to modern Europeans since the current history dates back more than 300 years and has greatly influenced that of pharmacy, botany, medicine, trade, theoretical and practical chemistry, and tropical agriculture.

In 1650, the physician Sebastiano Bado declared that this bark had proved more precious to mankind than all the gold and silver that the Spaniards had obtained from South America, and the world confirmed his opinion. Ramazzini said that the introduction of Peruvian bark would be of the same importance to medicine that the discovery of gunpowder was to the art of war, an opinion endorsed by contemporary writers on the history of medicine.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Great Grandson of Noah

Fernando de Montesinos was a Spaniard who apparently belonged to the Jesuit Order. He spent 15 years in Peru, acting as a secretary, judge, inspector, and cleric. While there he engaged in intensive historical research that resulted, in a three volume work entitled Ophir de Espana or Memoriuas Antiguas Historiales y Politicas del Peru.

His story of the Inca varies considerably from the other major Spanish chroniclers, especially in its narrative of Peruvian dynasties who ruled Peru before the Incas. He also relates to the ancient writing skills of the Peruvians, and that the Peruvians history was interlocked with the Bible and that they descended from Ophir, the great grandson of Noah—something that discredited the value of his work in the eyes of scholars when the volumes were first published in 1840 (Montesinos’s Memorias Antiguas y Historiales del Perú). For an exciting understanding of Ophir’s connection to the Brother of Jared, see my book “Who Really Settled Mesoamerica?”

Not until Juha Hiltunen’s work in 1999, 150 years later, was the first volume on Montesinos’ works and historiogrpahys, suggesting there may be considerable validity to Montesinos account and the first large scale document to use ethnography, archaeology, and palaeonlinguistics.

According to Montesinos, the Incas were dynastic latecomers who settled in Cuzco and took their ideas of government from earlier cultures. New findings from the Chokepukio site in the Cuzco Valley lend support to Montesinos’ account. For further information about the Tiwanaku-kings and the Montesinos narrative and list of Peruvian kings, see my book, “Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica.”

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Colonization from the South

In the 1500s, the early conquistadors of Peru found that only traditions existed as to where the ancient Tiahuanaco people of the Lake Titicaca region in Peru came from. By the time of the Inca, the history of these ancient people was clouded in the mystery of antiquity.

Brinton, Squier, Maudslay, Garcilasso de la Vega, Cieza de Leon, and Salcamayhua all claimed in their various writings, that all nations of Peru came from the south, and settled in the regions as they advanced northward. Molina had the same tradition, Montesinos mentioned a great invasion from the south during the time the 62nd king of Peru was reigning. On this point of coming from the south there is practically complete unanimity among all historians that all of Peru was settled by peoples coming from the south (Clements Robert Markham, The Incas of Peru, Dutton, NY, 1910, p 31-32)

For more information on the movement of the Nephites from their first landing site in the south along the coast of the West Sea into the North, see my book, “Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica.” And for the movement of Nephites from the Andean area into Mesoamerica, see my book "Who Really Settled Mesoamerica."