Thursday, March 31, 2011

Metallurgy in pre-Columbian America – Part II

According to archaeologists, there is no question that metallurgy in the Andean area of South America was far superior to anything found elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere and rivaled that of the Old World.

Also, that Andean metallurgy began long before other regions of the Americas. About two to three thousand years after it began in the Andean area, metallurgy was beginning in Central America. These cultures were highly advanced in the art. But in the eastern United States area, metallurgy never reached such sophistication, remaining much as it was found when the Europeans settled North America.

Similar metal artifact types to those of the Andean area are found in West Mexico and the two regions: copper rings, needles and tweezers being fabricated in the same ways as in Ecuador and also found in similar archaeological contexts. There is also a multitude of bells found, but in this case they were cast using the same lost-wax casting method as seen in South America. During this period, copper was being used almost exclusively.

In North American (north of Mexico) indigenous cultures did not smelt, melt, or alloy metals. Instead, they relied on the less technical approach due to the relative abundance of native copper. Their works were mostly utilitarian from very early on, and not concentrating on the prestige attached to the metal artifacts such as in South America and later, Central America. Their works were mostly of knives, fishhooks, and bracelets. In Etowah, a Mississippian culture site in Georgia, there were copper headdresses. In the Great Lakes region, hammer stones were used to break off pieces of copper small enough to be worked. Such a labor intensive process might have been eased by building a fire on top of the deposit, then quickly dousing the hot rock with water, creating small cracks, then repeated to create more small cracks.

The copper could then be cold-hammered into shape, which would make it brittle, or hammered and heated in an annealing process to avoid this. The final object would then have to be ground and sharpened using local sandstone. Numerous bars have also been found, possibly indicative of trade for which their shaping into a bar would also serve as proof of quality.

Great Lake artifacts found in the Eastern Woodlands of North America seem to indicate there were widespread trading networks by 1000 B.C. Progressively the usage of copper for tools decreases with more jewelery and adornments being found. This is believed to be indicative of social changes to a more hierarchical society. However this Great Lake model as a unique source of copper and of copper technologies remaining somewhat static for over 6000 years has recently come into some level of criticism, particularly since other deposits seem to have been available to ancient North Americans, even if a lot smaller.

The point is, however, that the metallurgy abilities of the Great Lakes region were far inferior to those of South America, and later Central America. There are numerous examples cited by archaeologists to show that the Andean area metallurgy heavily influenced and was directly connected to that of Mexico. The actual artifacts and then techniques were imported from the south, but west Mexican metallurgists worked ores from the abundant local deposits. Even when the technology spread from West into northeastern, central and southern Mexico, artifacts that can be traced back to West Mexican ores are abundant, if not exclusive, though it is not clear if the metal reached its final destination as an ingot, an ore or a finished artifact.

Provenance studies on metal artifacts from southern Mesoamerica cast with the lost-wax technique and dissimilar to west Mexican artifacts have shown that there might have been a second point of emergence of metallurgy into Mesoamerica there since no known source could be identified. However, the Aztecs did not initially adopt metal working (even if they had acquired metal objects), until shortly before the Conquest.

Thus it can be seen that metallurgy in the Great Lakes area was 1) begun long after that of South America, and 2) never reached a technology level anywhere near or as advanced as that of the Andean area.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Metallurgy in pre-Columbian America – Part II

South American metal working developed in the Andean regions of modern Peru and Bolivia with gold being hammered and shaped into intricate objects, long before such workings existed anywhere else in the Americas. While the Great Lakes area or the Eastern United States region, did have precious ores and metals cut in objects, it was with the natural appearance as the metals came out of the ground. Actual metallurgy, that is, the “The science and technology of metals, their extraction from ores, purification and alloying, heat treatment, and working,” was first achieved, and to a very high degree, in the Andean area of South America long before anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere.

Evidence for this type of metal work comes from the sites at Waywaka, Chavin and Kotosh, and it seems to have been spread throughout Andean societies by the Early horizon, that is from the 1000 B.C. to 200 B.C. period.
Ancient Peruvians were interested in gold and precious metals for wealth and status, as the jewelry shown suggests, including using electroplating as in the case of the rings)

Unlike in other metallurgy traditions where metals gain importance due to their widespread use from weaponry to every day utensils, metals in South America (and later in central America) were mainly valued as adornments and objects representative of a high status, though more functional objects were being produced. This was not the case in the eastern U.S., where metal workings were simple and merely functional, with few adornments unearthed, and not in Central America until much later into A.D. times.

It is during the Early Horizon (1000-200 B.C.) that advancements in metal working result in spectacular and characteristically Andean gold objects made by the joining of smaller metal sheets and also with gold-silver alloys. Two traditions seem to have developed along side each other—one in Peru, Bolivia and Chile (Nephites) and one in Ecuador (Jaredites), There is evidence for the earliest smelting of copper in the Altiplano region, Cuzco and Titicaca (Sacsahuaman and Tiwanaku) during the early stages of the Early Horizon period. Evidence for this comes from copper slag recovered at several sites with the ore itself possibly coming from further south.

Evidence for fully developed smelting however only appears with the Moche culture (northern coast, 200 B.C. - 600 A.D.). The ores were being extracted at shallow deposits in the Andean foothill, probably by specialized workers and are believed to have been smelted at nearby locations, evidenced in the actual metal artifacts and from ceramic vessels depicting the process, which is believed to have been occurring in adobe brick furnaces with at least three blow pipes to provide the air flow needed to reach the high temperatures.

The resulting ingots would then have been moved to other centers where shaping of the object would occur in specialized workshops. Both of the workshops found and studied were located near administrative sections of the respective cities, which is indicative of the high value placed upon metal. The objects themselves were still mainly adornments along with functional items that were elaborately decorated and often found within high status burial contexts. For this reason, it is believed that they were still being used more for symbolic purposes and to display wealth and status, since there were a high number of gilded or silvered objects as well as the appearance of Tumbaga—an alloy composed mostly of gold and copper that has a significantly lower melting point than gold or copper alone, yet is harder than copper, while maintaining malleability after being pounded. In addition, arsenic bronze was also being smelted from sulphidic ores.

Tumbaga, first used in the Andean area of South America and later spread to Central America, was widely used by the pre-Columbian cultures, especially to make religious objects. Like most gold alloys, tumbaga was versatile and could be cast, drawn, hammered, gilded, soldered, welded, plated, hardened, annealed, polished, engraved, embossed, and inlaid.

The proportion of gold to copper in artifacts varied widely among the ancient Peruvians, with some unearthed items having as much as 97% gold, while others contained 97% copper. Some tumbaga has also been found composed of metals besides gold and copper, up to 18% of the total mass of the tumbaga. However, tumbaga objects were often made using the lost wax technique, a process perfected in Peru and considered as good or better than any techniques employed in Europe or elsewhere for the period. This lost wax method used an alloy mixture of 80% copper, 15% silver, and 5% gold.

No type of this advance work, which flourished in the Andean area in B.C. times, has been found in any artifacts unearthed in the Great Lakes area or eastern United States. It is unique to South America in B.C. times, and only shows up in Central America in later A.D. In the are of the United States, indigenous cultures did not smelt, melt, or alloy metals relying instead on the relative abundance of native ore.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Metallurgy in pre-Columbian America – Part I

The Jaredites worked with metals and precious ores in the Land Northward between 2200 B.C. and about 600 B.C. “And they did work in all manner of ore, and they did make gold, and silver, and iron, and brass, and all manner of metals; and they did dig it out of the earth; wherefore they did cast up mighty heaps of earth to get ore, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of copper. And they did work all manner of fine work” (Ether 10:23). “And they did work all manner of work of exceedingly curious workmanship.” (Ether 10:27).

In addition, the Land Southward was filled with precious ores: “And it came to pass that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men. And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper” (1 Nephi 18:25).

The Nephites worked the ores, including metals and precious ores in the Land Southward between 600 B.C. and about 421 A.D., though most of this work would have been done no later than about 350 A.D. because of the wars that ravaged the land in their last century. As Nephi wrote: “And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance” (2 Nephi 5:15).

We also know that Nephi had a knowledge of steel before leaving Jerusalem: “And it came to pass that as I, Nephi, went forth to slay food, behold, I did break my bow, which was made of fine steel; and after I did break my bow, behold, my brethren were angry with me because of the loss of my bow, for we did obtain no food” (1 Nephi 16:18). He also knew of the steel of Laban’s sword: “And I beheld his sword, and I drew it forth from the sheath thereof; and the hilt thereof was of pure gold, and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine, and I saw that the blade thereof was of the most precious steel” (1 Nephi 4:9), which knowledge he used to make additional swords:

Archaeologists claim that people in the Americas have been using native metal from very early times, with recent finds of gold artifacts in the Andean region dated to 2155 - 1936 B.C. These metals were worked by expert smiths. However, in North America, finds of worked copper was that found in nature without need for smelting techniques and shaped into the desired form using heat and cold hammering techniques without chemically altering the metal by alloying it. To date no one has found evidence that points to the use of melting, smelting and casting in prehistoric eastern North America.

However, in South America the case is quite different. The early familiarity with metals in South America was developed into full metallurgy with smelting and various metals being purposefully alloyed. South American metal working developed in the Andean regions of modern Peru and Bolivia with gold being hammered and shaped into intricate objects, particularly ornaments, recent finds dating the earliest metal work to 2155 to 1936 B.C.

On the other hand, metallurgy in Mesoamerica developed from contacts with South America at a much later date. Archaeology shows there was a gradual spread north into Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica reaching Guatemala and Belize by A.D. 800.

Of the fact that no metal workings have been found to-date in Mesoamerica dating before 900 A.D., John L. Sorenson has said, almost apologetically, “In ‘An Ancient American Setting’ I had said, "comparative linguistics shows that metals must have been known, and presumably used, at least as early as 1500 B.C. That date extends back to the time of the Jaredites, for which so far we have not a single specimen of actual metal. Does it not seem likely that specimens are going to be found someday?"

Consequently, metallurgy has been found in very advance uses, not as found naturally in the ground as in the Great Lakes area, but having been melting and smelting ore from early B.C. times.

(See the next post, “Metallurgy in pre-Columbian America – Part II,” for more information of metal working in the Andean area that was far advanced from any found elsewhere in the Americas)

Monday, March 28, 2011

One More Time—the Disingenuous Attitude of a Theory

Not wanting to beat a dead horse, but feeling compelled to illustrate the disingenuous attitudes behind scholars and theorists views of unsupportable locations for their Land of Promise models, this post is one more attempt to show the fallacious approaches theorists take to defend their views, the following recap is submitted.

No matter how well meaning, and how much one might believe in a theory, if that theory is not consistent with the scriptural record, it should be discarded. However, what seems to forever happen is once a person makes up his mind to a theory regarding the location of the Land of Promise they will defend it even when it is indefensible, including inserting false information into the scriptural record to make their points. Take, for instance, the following samples of ideas recently listed in these posts:

Ideas, inserted into the scriptural record not found or even implied in the Book of Mormon:

1. Mountain goats
2. Big Horn Sheep
3. Buffalo
4. A fresh water West Sea
5. A wood ship
6. Surviving Jaredites
7. Placing the Hill Shim on the east sea
8. Jaredites living in Zarahemla
9. Columbus landing in North America
10. Jaredites mingling with Lamanite riffraff

In addition, making the following claims that again, are not found in scripture.

1. Nephites not understanding cardinal compass points
2. The Narrow Neck of Land to be 140 miles across
3. Not having four seas in the Land of Promise
4. Claiming Bible interpretations of a Hebrew word to be wrong most of the time
5. Constantly claiming Nephi sailed against winds and currents while “being driven forth before the wind”
6. Claiming the Mulekites landed in the Land Northward when Amaleki said they landed where Mosiah found them
7. Landing somewhere along the east coast of North America and walking hundreds of miles to a large lake and claiming that was the West Sea
8. A West Sea (lake) only four feet deep where Hagoth launched his exceedingly large ships
9. Hagoth’s ships not able to sail north from their west sea
10. Jaredite barges landing somewhere other than in the Land Northward

There are also points in the scriptural record totally ignored by these theorists:

1. Jacob’s isle of the sea
2. The sea was Lehi’s path directly to their landing site
3. Traveling across a saltwater ocean and landing on an island of the same sea
4. Amaleki’s landing site of the Mulekites
5. The cureloms and cumoms, animals as useful to man as the elephant
6. Neas and Sheum, grains planted with corn, wheat and barley
7. Ziff, a metal used in decorations
8. Herbs that cured fevers
9. Jaredites carrying with them honey bees and the Nephites finding honey bees in Bountiful
10. The Law of Moses requiring circumcision

Also there are scientific points about the Andean area of South America that are completely ignored:

1. South America was once under water except for the Andean area
2. Panama was once not connected to South America
3. Quinoa and Kiwichi super grains that only grow in the Andes
4. Andes mountains the newest mountain and range on earth
5. Camelids indigenous to the Andes, that were useful to man
6. Quinine from the Cinchona tree which was the only cure for malaria and fevers
7. Gold and silver and copper in a single ore found almost solely in Chile and Peru
8. Metallurgy in Andean area dating well into B.C. times, earliest in all of Western Hemisphere in Peru (To date no one has found evidence of melting, smelting and casting in prehistoric eastern North America. In South America, such has been found, including purposefully alloying various metals, dating into early B.C. times)
9. The alpaca and llama only indigenous to the Andean area of South America
10. Bismouth, a metal used for decorations in ancient Peru, found mostly in the Andean country

Theories are worthless unless they answer ALL the questions raised by the scriptural record regarding both the geographical descriptions, and the flora and fauna of the scriptural record. A few points of agreement do not count—all points must be met.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Great Lakes Theorists’ Ripliancum, Land Northward and the East Sea –Part II

According to the Great Lakes theorist, one website claims: “Ancient Lake Tonawanda does exist. It is well documented and its perimeter can be identified. At the Wilson-Tuscarora State Park is an image with a description of what ancient Lake Tanowanda looked like in its earliest stages, before the Jaredites arrived.”

This Lake Tonawanda was 25 miles long and 2 to 7 miles in breadth, but only about four feet deep. Today it is basically a marshland and referred to as the Tonawanda State Wildlife Management Area, the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, Oak Orchard State Wildlife Management Area, and the Bergen-Byron Swamp—an area considered to be millions of years old—obviously, it would have existed during the time of the Jaredites though we hear nothing of it when the armies of Coriantumr and Shiz fought there (Ether 15:8).

Since one theorist claims a narrow land bridge ran north and south toward the eastern portion of the lake, which they call the narrow neck of land, it would be interesting to see how Hagoth’s “exceedingly large ship” could have been launched into a four feet deep lake. But even if that were possible, the ship would have had to sail the entire 25-mile length of the lake before it could maneuver into the Niagara River and then weave its way into Lake Ontario before it could turn northward. And then where would it go? Across the Lake into what is now Canada?

It would also be interesting to see how the Jaredites arrived in their submarine-barges into this Land Northward. There was no access from the Atlantic Ocean, nor the Gulf of Mexico that would lead any kind of vessel into Lake Erie from the south or Lake Ontario from the east. Evidently, these theorists simply pick up the Jaredite barges in their Atlantic Ocean approach and place them into the lake. Nor could they have managed to obtain any Great Lake area from a Pacific crossing.

In addition, The West Sea ran from along the west of the Land Northward (Helaman 3:8), west of the narrow neck of land (Alma 22:32;63:5), along the Land of Bountiful (Alma 22:33; 63:5), along the Land of Zarahemla (Alma 22:28,32), along the narrow strip of wilderness that divided the Land of Nephi from the Land of Zarahemla (Alma 22:27;27:14), and along the Land of Nephi (22:27-28,32). Thus, we see, that the entire Land of Promise had a west sea, which ran continually from the Land Northward, to the Land Southward, even as far south as where Lehi landed—the land of first inheritance (Alma 22:28).

The East Sea ran along the Land of Nephi (Alma 50:8), along the narrow strip of wilderness (Alma 22:27), along the east of the Land of Zarahemla (Alma 22:32;31:3) and northward past the cities of Nephihah, Lehi, Morianton, Omner, Gid, and Mulek, all of which were on the east borders by the seashore (Alma 51:26), and east along the Land of Bountiful (51:32). The east sea was along the Land Northward (Ether 9:3;14:26). Infact, the sea ran all along the east from the Land Southward to the Land Northward, from the sea west to the sea east (Halaman 3:8)

Thus, we see, that the Land of Promise was nearly surrounded by water, not knowing for certain how large the Waters of Ripliancum in the north were, though it is also called the Sea North. And with a South Sea, we have Jacob’s island (2 Nephi 10:20).

In no way can any location in the Great Lakes area qualify for the Land of Promise no matter how much rhetoric these theorists provide. An island is an island, after all, and a west sea and east sea, and south sea and north sea on all sides of the Land of Promise pretty much eliminate the Great Lakes as a useful model for the promised land.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Great Lakes Theorists’ Ripliancum, Land Northward and the East Sea –Part I

According to Great Lakes Theorists, the area between the ancient Lake Tonawanda and Lake Onatrio was the Book of Mormon Land Northward, a very small area about 25 miles by 65 miles. Also according to these theorists, the ancient lake had a narrow land bridge at its eastern terminus and a large waterway beyond that which emptied into large rivers which the Nephites called the East Sea.

It would be hard to imagine anyone believing that the entire Land Northward as described in the scriptural record could fit in this tiny area—1625 square miles—about the same as the distance from Bountiful to Santaquin, and between the Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Mountains, where today just over 1 ½ million people reside. However, there were at least 12-15 million Jaredites.

In addition, these theorists claim a land bridge existed at the end of the ancient Lake Tonawanda and some unnamed body of water to the east, which they label the East Sea further south. However, this land bridge does not show up on any maps depicting this ancient time when Lake Tonawanda existed.

In fact, the actual geologic depiction of this lake and the land between it and the claimed Lake Iroquois of the period, shows a broken land divided into four parts by fairly good-sized water ways where the ancient lake drained into the lake to the north. This in turn, reduced Lake Iroquois as the waters of Lake Ontario subsided, the water receding to its basic present position. Thus, in the time the theorists’ claim Lake Tonawanda existed, providing their so-called land bridge or narrow neck, the land northward was broken up into areas totally inconsistent with the Book of Mormon description of the Land Northward.

In addition, these theorists’ East Sea was really just a river, and not a large one as shown by the image below in which the river cut down into the deeper soils, but was restricted to the narrowness of the river bed shown.

Called a rock gorge in the Devonian period, this is the Genesee River—what the theorists call their “East Sea.” The original valley here was thought to be that of Irondequoit Creek and Bay, but the most likely westward path originally followed the river. During this period the river flowed north and emptied into the Ontario River (now Lake Ontario). The rivers also in this era were merely tributary rivers to the original Ontario River. It would be hard to say that in the time under discussion, the geological findings show this area to have small rivers and Lake Ontario was merely a river. Most of these areas, now covered by lakes, rivers, etc., were empty glacial moraines that formed valleys and small riverlets.

If Great Lakes theorists are going to use Lake Tonawanda as a separation of waters in Book of Mormon times, then they also have to use the original descriptions of the time—that is, valleys and small rivers, and no Lake Ontario. At this time the Niagara River was wider, but still just a river, not what would be called a “Sea.” The area of Niagara Falls dates back to at least 6,000 to 7,000 years ago, and was even then located in the present area of Niagara Glen, Foster Flats, Wintergreen Flats and Wilson Terrace. At this point the water flows at 25-miles per hour—a speed that would be awe-inspiring to ancient man and one would think worthy of some mention in the area of the narrow neck of land, the narrow passage and narrow pass.

But not a word in the Book of Mormon about it.

(See the next post, “Great Lakes Theorists’ Ripliancum, Land Northward and the East Sea –Part II,” for more of the claims about Lake Tonawanda being the South Sea mentioned in the scriptural record)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Great Lakes Theorists Views

Based mostly on latter-day comments of Church Leaders speaking of their own opinoins, and a few selected passages from the scriptural record, the Great Lakes model for the Land of Promise has a gained considerable following among Book of Mormon students. But like all theories that are based on misinformation, misinterpretation, and stubborn stances, the Great Lakes area simply does not match ALL the scriptural record available for determining location of the Land of Promise.

Whether one quotes Alma 22:28-33, Omni 1:15-16, Helaman 6:10, or numerous other scriptures outlining geographical settings, the Great Lakes models simply fall far short of the written record.

One of the stances the Great Lakes theorists take is that North America, specifically the United States, is the only area of the Land of Promise in the Western Hemisphere. This despite numerous comments by Joseph Smith, Parley P. Pratt, and B.H. Roberts that the entire Western Hemisphere is the Land of Promise. Based in part of the misconception that Columbus discovered America—specifically the United States, a stance that flies in the face of actual history, we find that Christopher Columbus actually discovered islands in the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

Columbus never stepped foot on what we now know as the United States or what is considered continental North America. His first two voyages were only to the Bahamas, his third to the Bahamas and the Northern portion of South America, and his fourth to the Bahamas and Central America. When Nephi’s vision recorded in 1 Nephi 13:12 refers to Christopher Columbus, it would mean the land he discovered was part of the “promised land.”

In addition, when Jacob says “for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea,” one has to recognize that a) the Lehi Colony landed on an island in the sea, and b) where they landed and the “West Sea” would have been the same place. We also see that in Alma 22:28: ”and on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers’ first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore.” The place of their first landing “we did arrive at the promised land, and we went forth upon the land and did pitch our tents, and we did call it the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:23) was obviously their land of first inheritance, before Nephi was told to flee into the wilderness to escape his brothers (2 Nephi 5:5-6). Following this, Nephi records: “we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds” (2 Nephi 18:24), a very typical act of emigrants when first arriving in a new land.

This should preclude any thought that the Lehi Colony landed along the east coast of the United States and walked inland some 400 miles to Lake Erie (theorists’ west sea) and around to the west shore as Great Lakes Theorists claim.

Also, a description of the Land of Promise shows that the Land of Nephi (in the south), the Land of Zarahemla, and the Land of Bountiful (in the north) were in the Land Southward, south of the narrow neck of land, which Land Southward “was nearly surrounded by water” except for this “narrow neck of land between the Land Northward and the Land Southward” (Alma 22:32).

These theorists’ Land Northward is upon a tiny area, roughly situated between present day Rochester, New York, and the Niagara Falls, and southward from Lake Ontario to the ancient lake of Tonawanda (which was only four feet deep), an area about 25 miles by 65 miles in total—hardly large enough to encompass the vast distance of the Jaredite nation and the tens of millions of the Jaredite people. Also, whether there was a narrow neck between this ancient lake and the water source shown to the east of it on the map below is questionable. Geologists have nothing recorded by such a land bridge—at least none are shown in any drawings of the ancient lake bed.

Besides all this, there is no place in the Great Lakes where a large tract of land is completely surrounded by water except for a narrow neck.

One example of the Great Lakes Land of Promise. The Land Southward is not nearly surrounded by water except for a narrow neck

One example of the Great Lakes Land of Promise. This narrow neck, between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario where Niagara Falls is located, is not nearly surrounded by water except for this narrow neck

This Great Lakes Land of Promise has a narrow neck in a tiny area, leaving an extremely small Land Northward (see bottom map) and a narrow neck that does not provide a nearly surrounded Land Southward

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Theorists’ View of Where the Mulekites Settled – Part III

In an article that appeared on the Maxwell Institute website (the first paragraph was covered in the last post), the following statement appears:

“The Mulek party is reported to have first arrived in the land northward (see Helaman 6:10), then some of their descendants “came from there up” to where the Nephites found them, in and around the city of Zarahemla on the upper Sidon River (Alma 22:30–31; see Helaman 6:10).”

Since the Land of Zarahemla was “down” from the Land of Nephi (Alma 27:5;51:11;57:15), and that the city was basically where they landed and had always dwelt (Omni 1:16), the term “came up from there” to where the Nephites found them, is both inaccurate and disingenuous. Zarahemla would have been much lower than the inland area of the City of Nephi and the Land of Nephi, and actually along the coast, there would be nothing lower than their sea level altitude.

As for first arriving in the Land Northward, this again is inaccurate. There have been several posts on this issue here, so briefly, the point being that the quoted scripture, Alma 22:30, says: “And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing.”

Now, Mormon, who is injecting this statement into Alma, is writing from a vantage point in 385 A.D., about 972 years after the Mulekites landed, and about 600 years after the Mulekites joined with the Nephites and were called Nephites from that point on—therefore, the people of Zaraemla would have been Nephites to him. In addition, the 43-man expedition sent to find Zarahemla by Limhi and became lost and wandered into the Land Northward, were made up of Nephites who had gone back to the Land of Nephi “to inherit the land.” None of the people involved in Mormon’s statement would have been Mulekites.

In addition, the actual wordage of the description has to do with the Jaredite lands, not the Mulekites. That is: “it being so far northward that it came to the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, it being the place of their first landing” has reference to the Jaredites. The inserted thought: “of whose bones we have spoken” has reference to a verification of the Jaredites—that is, these bones had been mentioned orreferenced before in Mosiah and in Alma, and here Mormon is merely reminding the reader who inhabited this Land Northward, that is, a land that had been “peopled and been destroyed.” What people had been destroyed? The people whose bones lay scattered across the land—bones and destruction that has been earlier introduced in other passages. Mormon then adds, “who were discovered by the people of Zarahemla” to make certain the reader knows what people are being discussed.

If we were to read “The Pilgrims sailed so far west they came to America, it being the place where they planted crops that did not grow, and were saved by food from the Indians, it being the place of their landing” we would not confuse the fact that it was the Pilgrims who landed there, not the Indians. However, in Mormon’s statement, we are not familiar with the history of these two groups sufficient to read the passage as written. So we also have the verification of Amaleki that they landed where Mosiah found them at Zarahemla.

Also, as covered in earlier posts, Helaman 6:10 refers to a division of the Land Southward, for Mulek was led into the Land North (Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Bountiful), and Lehi into the Land South (Land of Nephi and First Inheritance). That is, Mulek was led into the Land of Zarahemla and Lehi into the area of First Inheritance.

As for the upper Sidon River, this river is to the east of Zarahemla. The Mulekites would have landed along the seashore and probably did not know of the River Sidon until they began “journeying in the wilderness” as Nephi did.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Theorists’ View of Where the Mulekites Settled – Part II

In an article that appeared on the Maxwell Institute website (the first paragraph was covered in the last post), the following statement appears:

“Further, the Mulek group discovered the final Jaredite ruler, Coriantumr1, shortly after the Jaredites’ final struggle, and that had to have taken place near the east sea (see Omni 1:21; Ether 9:3).”

First of all, there is no mention of, or reference to, the “east sea” in Omni 1:21. And the passage in Ether 9:3, states that eastward of the Hill Shim “where the Nephites were destroyed.” How far eastward we are not told, for the passage reads: “and from thence eastward, and came to a place which was called, Ablom, by the seashore.” All this verse states is that the place called Ablom was by the seashore—not the Hill Shim. And that Ablom was to the east of the Hill Shim.

This hill Shim was in the Land of Antum and the location where Ammaron deposited the plates later obtained by Mormon. Moroni tells us that the Jaredite king Omer passed by the hill of Shim with his family on his way to Ablom, implying that the hill was near where the Nephites were destroyed.

However, even if we want to place the Hill Shim near the east sea, that has nothing to do with Coriantumr, nor the final battle of the Jaredites, for that took place near the Hill Ramah, in a place called Ogath, which was the same as the Hill Cumorah to the Nephites (Ether 15:10-11). Thus, the Jaredites fought their civil war around the Hill Ramah until only a few were left, then the remnant of Coriantumr’s army fled and were overtaken after a day (Ether 15:28-29), and the final battle ended with Coriantumr killing Shiz (15:30).

Now the location of where Coriantumr killed Shiz was about a day’s fast march in some direction from the Hill Ramah. We might assume southward, since just before this last battle, they were fighting near the waters of Ripliancum, which would be far to the north.

So even though Coriantumr fell seriously wounded (Ether 15:32), he obviously recovered, for we know that he lived at least nine months beyond this battle (Omni 1:21). To further evaluate this time frame, let us consider that Ether was commanded by the Lord to prophesy to Coriantumr just after the first year of the civil war that if he did not repent, he and all his people would be destroyed “and he should only live to see the fulfilling of the prophecies which had been spoken concerning another people receiving the land for their inheritance and Coriantumr should receive a burial by them” (Ether 13:21).

It is possible, of course, that these two events, Coriantumr’s survival in the final battle and his discovery by the people of Zarahemla, happened close together; however, it is more likely that Coriantumr was meant to suffer, wandering his land and seeing “every soul should be destroyed save it were Coriantumr” (Ether 13:21). This might have been a short time, or a long time—we simply do not know. But Coriantumr wandering his land and seeing that all were destroyed except for him, then wandering southward into the Land Southward to see there were no Jaredites anywhere, makes a lot more sense for in this wandering it would have been hammered home again and again that Ether had been correct, and the Lord had warned him and Coriantumr had failed to listen.

In any event, since Amaleki tells us that the Mulek party landed where Mosiah found them and that they had always dwelt there, it seems likely that Coriantumr indeed wandered into the Land Southward toward Zarahemla and eventually was discovered by the people of Zarahemla (Ether 1:21) where he lived for nine months, died, and was buried by them as prophesied, and that the Lord’s judgments were just (Omni 1:22).

(See the next post, “Theorists’ View of Where the Mulekites Settled – Part III,” showing where Mulek landed and how inaccurate it is to claim they landed in the Land Northward and eventually migrated to Zarahemla)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Theorists’ View of Where the Mulekites Settled – Part I

In an article that appeared on the Maxwell Institute website, the following statement appears:

“Where did the Mulekites settle? The city of Mulek was in the borders by the east sea. We can suppose that this was one of the Mulekites earliest settlements (note that the Nephites named cities after their original founder, and the Mulekites probably did the same; see Alma 8:7).”

While naming cities after their original founder may well have been the case in some, or even most, cities, it was not the case in all settlements. Consider the cities and lands: Jerusalem, Desolation, Ani-Anti, Bountiful, Cumorah, Jordan, Lehi-Nephi, Mormon, Moron, and Judea. Others may well have been named after early Hebrews: Aaron, Ephraim, Boaz, Jacob, Gad, Lehi, Noah, Shem, and David. Other cities and lands with questionable names: City by the Sea, Land of First Inheritance (not named for person), Midian (an ancient Arab place name), Mormon (name given by the king because it was a land of wild beasts), Moron (land of Jaradites, Ether’s grandfather was named Moron, after the capital city?) and Irreantum and Ripliancum are bodies of water not named after people.

In all, there are numerous cases where cities and lands were not named after the first person that settled there. When theorists claim the City of Mulek was named after Mulek, the son of Zedekiah, who came to the Land of Promise in 587 B.C., probably as a child, it is unlikely that any city was named by him, any more than a city or land was named Lehi by the first founder of the Land of Promise. In fact, it seems likely that the original settlement of the Mulekites was not given a name, like that of the Nephites, who called the area “Land of First Inheritance.” Nor do we find any cities named “Sam,” “Zoram,” “Joseph,” or “Jacob,” by these erstwhile first settlers.

In addition, there are numerous cases of cities named after cities and people of Israel as has always been the custom among migrating people.

When those who carried Mulek out of Jerusalem “journeyed in the wilderness” (Omni 1:15), it is unlikely this wordage meant they went down to the Mediterranean Sea. Note that when Lehi left Jerusalem, he “departed into the wilderness” (1 Nephi 2:4), and he “traveled in the wilderness” (1 Nephi 2:5) and “traveled three days in the wilderness” (1 Nephi 2:6). The word “wilderness” means an uninhabited and unoccupied tract of land, therefore would not have been used to describe any land between Jerusalem and the Mediterranean—a departing site necessary to make landfall on the east coast of the Land of Promise.

It is more likely that the Mulek party traveled in much the same direction as the Lehi Colony, since both were subject to pursuit by those who wanted to kill them. Traveling south and east would have been much safer and made a lot more sense than going west or north to the Mediterranean. Thus, it is likely that the Mulek party “were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters” (Omni 1:16) from the south lands, or the southern Arabian Peninsula, as was Lehi.

In addition, the city of Mulek was on the east shore somewhere south of the city of Bountiful, and is spoken of in connection with the cities of Nephihah, Lehi, Morianton, Omner, and Gid “all of which were on the east borders by the seashore” (Alma 51:26). Theorists claim this was one of the first settlements of the Mulekites, however, Amaleki says differently, “the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon. And they journeyed in the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth” (Omni 1:15-16).

Thus we can see that the City of Mulek was not an early city of the Mulekites, therefore, we cannot “suppose that this was one of the Mulekites earliest settlements.” Nor does Alma 22:30 say the Mulekites landed in the Land Northward, for that verse has to do with the Jaredites. And Helaman 6:10 has to do with dividing the Land Southward into two sections, the Land North (Zarahemla and Bountiful), and the Land South (Land of Nephi and area of First Inheritance), and has to do with the lands in which the Mulek party landed (Land North—Zarahemla), and Lehi landed (Land South—First Inheritance). Several earlier posts have dealt with this division and the landing site of the Mulekites.

(See the next post, “Theorists’ View of Where the Mulekites Settled – Part II,” for the rest of the article from the Maxwell Institute webpage)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Wood Ship and West Sea Landing – Part VII

Continuing with the comments made by a Great Lakes theorist about the Lehi Colony traveling around Africa and across the Atlantic (see last five posts), he wrote:

“If you are a devout Israelite, you trust that the LORD has led you to a land with all four seasons, goats (e.g. mountain goats), sheep (e.g. bighorn sheep) and various cattle (e.g. bison), a place where you can plant barley and grapes with no impediment to keeping all of the seasonal ordinances of the Law of Moses. (2 Nephi 5:10).”

First of all, the reference in 2 Nephi has to do with keeping the Law of Moses. It does not indicate, nor have any reference to, seasons, animals, nor planting, as the way it was used in the above might suggest. While the Law of Moses may well have had seasonal ordinances in Israel, there is no mention or suggestion that such was the purpose of the Law among the Nephites. In fact, the scripture listed above states: “And we did observe to keep the judgments, and the statutes, and the commandments of the Lord in all things according to the law of Moses.” Judgments, statutes, and commandments does not imply the petty seasonal ordinances of the Jews, but those commandments in reference to a life style—the 10 Commandments being the base of the Law of Moses.

In 2 Nephi 11:4 it states: “Behold, my soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ; for, for this end hath the law of Moses been given; and all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him.” Again, this implies that the Law of Moses which the Nephites kept was not filled with the do’s and don’ts of Jewish religious laws, but as a preparation for the future coming of the Christ—a fact that was well known among the Nephites (3 Nephi 2:2,7-8) and highly anticipated (3 Nephi 3:1; 5:2; 6:20; 7:15,21).

Alma made this quite clear: “Yea, and they did keep the law of Moses; for it was expedient that they should keep the law of Moses as yet, for it was not all fulfilled. But notwithstanding the law of Moses, they did look forward to the coming of Christ, considering that the law of Moses was a type of his coming, and believing that they must keep those outward performances until the time that he should be revealed unto them. Now they did not suppose that salvation came by the law of Moses; but the law of Moses did serve to strengthen their faith in Christ; and thus they did retain a hope through faith, unto eternal salvation, relying upon the spirit of prophecy, which spake of those things to come.” (Alma 25:15-16).

To suggest that the Nephites’ purpose in keeping the Law of Moses had to do with any seasonal ordinances is once again extremely disingenuous, but necessary to the proving that the Great Lakes theory is the location of the Land of Promise. It is always a stretch for these theorists to try and show something regarding their model that cannot be supported by the scriptural record.

In another of this author’s points, he writes: “a place where you can plant barley and grapes.” This is, of course, an accurate point, for barley was grown in the Land of Promise and mentioned specifically “And we began to till the ground, year, even with all manner of seeds, with seeds of corn, and of wheat, and of barley, and with neas, and with sheum, and with seeds of all manner of fruits” (Mosiah 9:9). Of course, the barley eliminates Mesoamerica completely. Even John L. Sorenson acknowledged that, claiming Zeniff must have meant some other grain than barley.

But it is interesting that this author singled out barley, for wheat and corn are also mentioned. In the eastern U.S., only one type of wheat grows, and that is soft red winter wheat—and the only major crop area is in northwestern Ohio and a small area in central Michigan. However, spring wheat and duram wheat do not grow there at all, and the normal hard red winter wheat grows only in the Great Plains states, Montana and California.

Growth of Barley in the U.S. According to the NOAA/USDA -- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Corn is grown in what is called the corn belt, which includes the states of Michigan, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska. Barley, however, is not grown east of the Mississippi at all, centering mostly in the Dakotas, Montana, Idaho, Utah Washington and California, with a little in Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska. It is strange indeed that the author chose to mention where barley is grown as a major point, since it is not found in the Great Lakes area at all.

As for grapes, California grows 90% of the grapes in the U.S., with Long Island, New York, and Washington producing most of the rest. Special frost-resistant grapes introduced by German immigrants into Ohio and Michigan in the late 1800s accounting for a small amount. Grapes are usually grown in tropical and subtropical regions and extending into the temperate zones, which tends to exclude the Great Lakes area from almost all but one special variety. It should also be understood that grapes are not indigenous to North America at all, having been introduced here by way of the Mediterranean countries.

Thus, as can be seen, the special points introduced by this Great Lakes theorist in no way supports his Great Lakes model and, in many cases, actually eliminates it from consideration.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Wood Ship and West Sea Landing – Part VI

Continuing with the comments made by a Great Lakes theorist about the Lehi Colony traveling around Africa and across the Atlantic (see last five posts), he wrote:

“If you are a devout Israelite, you trust that the LORD has led you to a land with all four seasons, goats (e.g. mountain goats), sheep (e.g. bighorn sheep) and various cattle (e.g. bison)—“

It is interesting how scholars and theorists like to inject their own model’s description and perspectives, and their own interpretations, into their views about the Land of Promise. Like ”wooden boat” as shown in an earlier post in this series, the author is now suggesting that, without scriptural verification, the Land of Promise has:

1. Four seasons

First of all, Israel does not have four season like the eastern United States. Israel has a Mediterranean Climate, much like Southern California and Central Chile. Secondly, there is nothing in all of the Book of Mormon to suggest any climate whatsoever. The word “climate” does not appear in the scriptural record, nor does “summer,” “winter,” or “spring,” in relation to seasons. The word “season” appears seldom, such as in Alma 46:40 referring to the season for fevers, which is probably summer, but unnamed. There is also a couple of references in Alma 57:17-18, in which it is recorded “for behold, the Lamanites were upon us, and they returned in season to save us from falling into their hands, and did arrive in season to check them” which probably has reference to the “season” or “time of year” in which the Lamanites mounted their attacks.

In Helaman 11:6, 13, 16, regarding a famine, grain did not grow in its season, but later, after rains were sent, both grain and fruit did grow in season. The terms spring and season are mentioned relative to two parables, Zenos’ parable of the Olive Tree (found in Jacob), wild beasts infested an area in the Land of Nephi “by times or at seasons” (Alma 18:4), and the parable of planting seeds found in Alma. In 3 Nephi, the term “season” is used as a general term.

2. Mountain Goats

It is always amazing how far scholars and theorsts will reach to try and prove their Land of Promise model. Stating Mountain Goats existing in the scriptural record is really disingenuous. The term stated in Nephi’s account is “the goat and wild goat and all manner of wild animals” (1 Nephi 18:25). By definition, a “wild goat” is an “undomesticated goat.” The wild goat, “Capra aegagrus” is a widespread species of goat, with a distribution ranging from Europe and Asia Minor to central Asia and the Middle East. It is the ancestor of the domestic goat.

Left: Mountain Goat “Oreamnos americanus,” Right: Wild Goat “Capra aegagrus.” They are not even close to the same animal

On the other hand, the Mountain Goat “Oreamnos americanus,” also known as the Rocky Mountain Goat, is a large-hoofed mammal found only in North America. Despite its vernacular name, it is not a member of Capra, the genus of true goats. The Mountain Goat stays at high elevations and is a sure-footed climber, often resting on rocky cliffs that predators cannot reach. Their range is within the Rocky Mountains, Cascade Mountains, northern Washington, Idaho and Montana through British Columbia and Alberta into the southern Yukon and southeastern Alaska.

While Mountain goats are not found in the Book of Mormon, or even alluded to, just the idea of their location in the U.S. is preposterous for the “beasts of every kind” Nephi listed “as they journeyed in the wilderness” would have required walking some 2000 miles or more from their “land of first inheritance” along the west sea, to the Rocky Mountains to see any Mountain Goats.

3. Big Horn Sheep

This is simply another of these disingenuous claims. There is no mention of Big Horn Sheep anywhere in the scriptural record, and the only mention of sheep at all is among the Jaredites as one of the animals they gathered together when they left their homes (Ether 9:18). While we can assume that sheep were intended in some of the mention of flocks, such as when Ammon tended the Lamanite king’s animals, there is no mention anywhere of sheep among the Nephites, nor described as any of the animals found when first journeying in the wilderness.

Left: Big Horn Sheep “Orvis Canadensis,” Right: Domesticated Sheep “Orvis aries.” One cannot be mistaken for the other

In Alma we find there were “flocks and herds, and fatlings of every kind“ (Alma 1:29), and a “fatling” could be a lamb, but could also be a calf, kid, or young pig. Still, it seems a given that there would have been sheep (Ovis aries) among the Nephites—the point here is that such is never mentioned. Nor are Big Horn Sheep (Ovis Canadensis) implied in any way. In addition, the range of Big Horn sheep is west of Colorado, from Canada into Mexico—but not in the Midwest or in the East.

4. Bison (buffalo)

The American bison (Bison bison) is a North American species of bison, also commonly known as the American buffalo. The term "buffalo," which dates to 1635, has a much longer history than the term "bison," which was first recorded in 1774. The American bison is more closely related to the wisent or European bison (Bison bonasus), and is one of the more distinct looking animals known. Certainly, the Lehi Colony coming from Israel and never having seen such an animal, might have mentioned something about it. However, there is no reference in any scriptural record, nor alluded to in any way, of a bison or buffalo.

Left: American Bison (Buffalo) “Bison bison,” Right: Oxen “Bos primigenius.” An Ox is a steer allowed to grow to full size and is no different than the term “cattle”—a steer being a castrated bull

This is simply another of this author’s disingenuous attempt to prove his Great Lakes theory. But the attempt, as do all these theorists ideas, falls far short of any scriptural record support.

(See the next post, “Wood Ship and West Sea Landing – Part VII,” for more of the disingenuous claims made by Great Lakes theorists)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Wood Ship and West Sea Landing – Part V

Continuing with the comments made by a Great Lakes theorist about the Lehi Colony traveling around Africa and across the Atlantic (see last post), he wrote:

“—cross the Atlantic at the shortest distance between the Old World and the New, with enough fresh water stored on board for the crossing. After crossing over to the western hemisphere, you sail along coastal waters and northward, near chains of islands; and then navigate North American waterways inland until you arrive within walking distance of a freshwater "west sea".”
At the shortest distance between the Old World and the New, is between Dakar, Senegal to Natal, Brazil, a distance of about 1600 miles. However, this has two flaws. First, it would be backtracking, since Senegal is further north than this bulge of Brazil (see map). And second, the winds and currents do not blow toward the west across from Africa to the Americas until you reach the Cape Verde Islands, a distance of about 4,550 miles—and this route would take a sailing ship “driven forth before the wind” the entire distance against the winds of the South Atlantic Gyre.

Once again, a person can look on a map today and say, “hey, this is a good route” without knowing anything about the winds and currents affecting sailing vessels in 600 B.C. Even into the Age of Discovery, the 16th-century, exploration was dependent upon winds and currents—twenty two hundred years after Lehi sailed.

It is unconscionable for scholars and theorists to make such claims when any amount of study and research will show that such a claim is absolutely and unequivocally impossible. But this author does not stop there. He goes on to say:

“After crossing over to the western hemisphere, you sail along coastal waters and northward, near chains of islands; and then navigate North American waterways inland until you arrive within walking distance of a freshwater "west sea".”

It would be interesting to see just what “waterways” he refers. To settle in the Great Lakes area, one can easily look on a map to see that such a distance is over 400 miles from any point to any Great Lake. And since one of the Great Lakes is considered the “West Sea” by these theorists, we are talking about a 400 mile plus trek to reach a spot on the “west sea south” for the place of “first inheritance.”

If the “West Sea” is Lake Erie, as so many Great Lakes theorists claim, then one would have to travel at least 380 miles overland from around New York harbor, or the harbor in Delaware, both of these areas would be the shortest distance. Anywhere else would be more than 400 miles and as much as 500 miles. It is interesting of this “overland” distance, of which this author claims “then navigate North American waterways inland until you arrive within walking distance of a freshwater "west sea.” The difficulty of this for such a claim is that there are no “inland waterways” leading to the Great Lakes. Certainly nothing a deep sea ocean vessel could negotiate.

Some theorists have claimed Lehi sailed down the St. Lawrence River from the Gulf of St. Lawrence—a distance up the coast of over 2000 miles, then a trip back down the river of about 800 miles—however, such was not possible because of the Rachine Rapids (see an earlier post) that blocked the river from through passage of any type of boat.

Others have claimed sailing up the Mississippi to the Ohio River, since the latter river ends in Pittsburg, only a short (not walking) distance to Lake Erie. However, even a meager due diligence research would show that the Mississippi River was not navigable as far as Memphis, and some reports show less than half that distance in antiquity because of the shallowness of the shoals in upper Mississippi state.

The point is, you cannot “navigate North American waterways inland until you arrive within walking distance of a freshwater "west sea” in 600 B.C., or until after much dredging, re-routing, and clearing waterways that took place during the 18th century could any inland waterway be navigated by a deep ocean sailing vessel.

Simply put, any arrival at Lake Erie, the theorists’ “West Sea” would have been an overland trek of some 400 miles or more—and cannot be assumed to have taken place when not a single word in the scriptural record suggests such. On the other hand, Jacob said “the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:21) which suggests a far different scenario that the Great Lakes.

(See the next post, “Wood Ship and West Sea Landing – Part VI,” for the final part of this paragraph describing the ridiculous voyage across the Atlantic and into the hinterland of North America)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Wood Ship and West Sea Landing – Part IV

Continuing with the comments made by a Great Lakes theorist about the Lehi Colony traveling around Africa and across the Atlantic (see last post), he wrote:

“—you bravely round the Cape of Good Hope and divinely guided, cross the Atlantic at the shortest distance between the Old World and the New, with enough fresh water stored on board for the crossing---“

There are two points here written that are indefensible based on the times and capabilities of 600 B.C. and for more than a thousand years after. As mentioned in the last post, rounding the African Cape was not only no simple matter, the best mariners of the 15th century could not accomplish this fact. Not until Vasco de Game learned to swing wide around the Cape in 1497 (a three month 6,000 mile trip far out to sea and out of the sight of land) in order to avoid the Agulhas Retroflection—a treacherous combing of ocean currents around the Cape of Africa—and pick up the eastward moving circumpolar current that swept him toward Australia and then north up the trade winds to India, China and Indonesia, could such a fete be accomplished.

A person today may think a ship could sail around Africa hugging the coast, but no ship built for deep water could do that—not even in 1400 A.D., 2000 years after Lehi sailed. Of course, coastal vessels—shallow bottom, weak-hulled, oar-driven ships—could manage that fete, which is how the Phoenicians and Egyptians managed to sail around Africa in B.C. times, making numerous coastal stops for food, water and supplies along the way—a journey that took over two years. But the Lehi Colony, in a deep-water vessel, one built large enough and sturdy enough to weather the extreme punishment of waves and winds crossing oceans, could not have managed such a coastal journey, no matter how feasible it looks on a map today.

Yet, even if such a voyage could be accomplished, the problem with food, water and supplies would have been extreme. Magellan wrote in his log in the 16th century, after almost four months at sea: “…we were three months and twenty days without refreshment from any kind of fresh food. We ate biscuit, which was no longer biscuit but its powder, swarming with worms, the rats having eaten all the goods. It stank strongly of their urine. We drank yellow water already many days putrid. We also ate certain ox hides that covered the top of the yards to prevent the yards from chafing the shrouds, and which had become exceedingly hard because of the sun, rain and wind. We soaked them in the sea for four or five days, then placed them for a short time over the hot embers and ate them thus, and often we ate sawdust. Rats were sold for half a ducat apiece, and even so we could not always get them.”

Food is so plentiful to us today and so easily obtained when traveling, many modern people forget the difficulty of traveling across thousands of miles of sea for months on end without the ability to obtain replacement supplies, food and water.

Further, this author states: “with enough fresh water stored on board for the crossing.” Thor Heyerdahl found, as did Columbus, that catching rainwater was the only way to have fresh water on such lengthy journeys. Regular stored water in caskets turned rancid quite quickly, and though drinkable, tasted badly and smelled even worse. Columbus, on his first voyage, after only 36 days at sea, was on his last cask of water when land was finally seen.

Thus, we can assume that any voyage of Lehi around Africa and across the Atlantic (even if such could have been accomplished) would have taken about four times the distance and four times the length of travel as Columbus, and longer than Magellan’s 3 months and twenty days. Yet Nephi, who never failed to record problems, mutinous attitudes of his brothers, and how the Lord helped them overcome extreme difficulties, never wrote a single word about this journey. He only said, “And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:23).

Thus, we can see that when scholars and theorists so glibly write about things of which they know so little, they continually show their ignorance on matters of extreme importance to the Lehi Colony in reaching the Land of Promise.

(See the next post, “Wood Ship and West Sea Landing – Part IV,” traveling inland to a “west sea”)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wood Ship and West Sea Landing – Part III

As stated in the last post, a recent writing by a Great Lakes theorist made some rather indefensible comments. Two of them were answered in the last post. In this post, let’s deal with the next paragraph of his writing in which he wrote:

“Arguably, the wisest way to bring your family from Arabia to America in a seaworthy wooden vessel is to keep close to shoreline most of the trip. You bravely round the Cape of Good Hope and divinely guided, cross the Atlantic—“

First, someone in the 21st century can glibly write: “Arguably, the wisest way to bring your family from Arabia to America in a seaworthy wooden vessel is to keep close to shoreline most of the trip,” but any mariner worth his salt will tell you that sailing near shore, or even in the sight of land, is extremely dangerous and no one would attempt such a thing with family and loved ones in a large vessel strong enough to sail into deep water oceans. Very experienced early Portuguese sailors lost ships sailing around Africa until they learned how to do so. We read a lot today about how early mariners kept to the sight of land, but that is a modern understanding of how these men sailed their ships. After all, they had maps and charts, and stayed out to sea, coming toward land only occasionally to check their bearings. These early Portuguese sailors, like Vasco de Gama, touched on the eastern shores of South America in their sailing around Africa.

Secondly, the early Portuguese ships that sailed the coastal waters of Africa were not deep-sea ships, but shallower, lighter, and less seaworthy coastal vessels. By the time of Columbus, the Portuguese ship-building was more of a refined art, with very strong hulls that could withstand the pounding of ocean winds and currents, and sails that could handle the gales and storms at sea.

Additionally, this author writes: “You bravely round the Cape of Good Hope and divinely guided, cross the Atlantic at the shortest distance between the Old World and the New”—a simple statement written today, but a task that challenged the best mariners of the ancient world.

In 1419, Prince Henry, son of King João of Portugal, began to subsidize sailors, mapmakers, astronomers, shipbuilders and instrument makers who were interested in discovering new lands Although these men were mostly Italian, there were also many Jews, Muslims, Germans, Scandinavians and Arabs who came to Prince Henry's court. They were all united in their desire to find a way around Africa to India. These sailors did not succeed but they were successful in advancing down the west African coast, where they began to open a rich trade in gold and slaves.

In 1488, the Portuguese captain, Bartholomeu Dias is credited with reaching the east coast of Africa, however, that brag by the Captain was not true. His ship reached the southern tip of Africa and could not sail through what was then called the Cape of Storms because of the dangerous waters there (later renamed Cape of Good Hope to encourage others to navigate around it), and when he insisted in penetrating those difficult waters, his crew threatened to mutiny. Turning back, he returned to Lisbon to make his claim, but in fact never accomplished the task. In a second voyage in 1500, Dias’ ship was wrecked in this area trying to round the Cape. It took Vasco de Gama the following year, to round the Cape, and he did so by swinging far out to sea to avoid the swirling, dangerous currents—a suggestion given him by Dias.

This Cape of Good Hope was not the southern most point of Africa, but Cape Agulhas, about 90 miles from Good Hope. And no matter how much divine guidance you received, you could not accomplish a route staying in along the coast and in sight of land. You had to sail far out to sea to avoid the dangerous retroflective currents around the southern tip of Africa. Besides, divine guidance would have taken the ship up toward the Cape Verde islands where the northern gyre of the Atlantic swings west toward the Western Hemisphere and the New World—not meander across the Atlantic. This is the route divine guidance gave to Columbus, from the Canary Islands westward along the trade winds of the North Atlantic Gyre.

(See the next post, “Wood Ship and West Sea Landing – Part IV,” to see how ridiculous statements made today would have applied to the ancient world)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wood Ship and West Sea Landing – Part II

As stated in the last post, a recent writing by a Great Lakes theorist made some rather indefensible comments. Two of them were answered in the last post. In this post, let’s deal with the next paragraph of his writing in which he wrote:

“Arguably, the wisest way to bring your family from Arabia to America in a seaworthy wooden vessel is to keep close to shoreline most of the trip. You bravely round the Cape of Good Hope and divinely guided, cross the Atlantic at the shortest distance between the Old World and the New, with enough fresh water stored on board for the crossing. After crossing over to the western hemisphere, you sail along coastal waters and northward, near chains of islands; and then navigate North American waterways inland until you arrive within walking distance of a freshwater "west sea". If you are a devout Israelite, you trust that the LORD has led you to a land with all four seasons, goats (e.g. mountain goats), sheep (e.g. bighorn sheep) and various cattle (e.g. bison) - a place where you can plant barley and grapes with no impediment to keeping all of the seasonal ordinances of the Law of Moses. (2 Nephi 5:10).”

First, let’s take the initial statement: “the wisest way to bring your family from Arabia to America in a seaworthy wooden vessel is to keep close to shoreline most of the trip.”

The fact that the term “wooden vessel” is never used regarding Nephi’s ship was mentioned in the last post. But for “keeping close to the shoreline most of the trip” is an indefensible point to make and obviously made by someone who knows little or nothing about sailing ships in ancient times.

First, a ship capable of crossing deep water (an ocean) has to be constructed in such a manner, and of such size, as to weather the winds, waves, and weather of such a journey. Such a ship is inoperable close to shore. Also, being “close to shore” in any vessel is far more dangerous than sailing out away from land, for shores have currents, cross currents, shoals, reefs, etc., that play havoc with any sailing venture.
Second, hugging the east African coast from the Arabian Peninsula to Cape Agulhas is fraught with two very difficult situations. First is the currents between Madagascar and Africa, which constantly flow northward, thus defeating any sailing ship “driven forth before the wind” passage at this point. To go southward, any vessel must be out to sea and out of sight of land coming down the western edge of the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. Secondly, once arriving at the Cape of Agulhas, where the Indian and the Atlantic oceans meet, where the warm water of the Agulhas current meets the cold water of the Benguela current, and turns back on itself, a point that fluctuates between Cape Agulhas and Gape Point, about 90 miles east of the Cape of Good Hope.

At this point, the going near shore, or within sight of shore, is very treacherous for such a sailing ship. This is one of the reasons why the Portuguese, sailing around Africa, stayed far out to sea. In fact, de Gama swung so wide out to sea he saw the Brazilian coast of South America before swinging eastward and picking up the Southern Ocean current, which flows always eastward around the globe.

Now, once around the Cape, a sailing ship hugging the coast would be constantly moving against the wind and currents—the self-same wind and currents that brought the early Portuguese and later Spanish mariners, southward. These waters do not flow northward. To “be driven forth before the wind” northward, a sailing ship would have to swing far out to sea, away from the sight of land, to make headway. This is because in the South-East Atlantic Ocean the current retroflects (turns back on itself) in the Agulhas Retroflection due to shear interactions with the strong Atlantic Circumpolar current. This water becomes the Agulhas Return Current rejoining the Indian Ocean Gyre, which takes a sailing ship eastward across the Indian Ocean toward southern Australia before turning northward and bending back toward the Arabian Peninsula.

(See the next post, “Wood Ship and West Sea Landing – Part III,” regarding the sailing across the Atlantic)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wood Ship and West Sea Landing – Part I

According to a recent writing by a Great Lakes theorist, he claims: “The Book of Mormon does not say that Lehi's party crossed the Pacific Ocean. It says they traveled "nearly eastward" (biblical east) across the Arabian wilderness to a place where they were able to build a wooden ship. Apparently they needed to avoid contact with potential adversaries outside their families. Nephi's slaying of Laban alone would have necessitated avoiding the populous Mediterranean coast. A flight into the southern wilderness was both inspired and expedient. Yes, the Book of Mormon says that Lehi's American land of first inheritance was by a west sea, but there is nothing in the LDS scripture to make us conclude that this "sea...on the west" (Alma 22:27-28) was salt water (i.e. the Pacific Ocean).”

Before responding to this overall comment, let’s take a look at the statement above “able to build a wooden ship.” While the author of this makes an issue that the scriptures do not say anything about traveling across an ocean to the shores of the west sea, he makes the classic mistake of most theorists by claiming something—a wooden ship—that is also not mentioned in scripture. One might say that what other kind of ship would it have been, but that is not the point. The point is, ridiculing something for not being in scripture, then defending your position by quoting something else that is also not found in scripture seems a little disingenuous.

As an example, the only mention of wood in all 1 Nephi has to do with the making of a bow (1 Nephi 16:23). In the same chapter, we find that Nephi had a bow made of fine steel (1 Nephi 16:18). While Nephi mentions the fact that after settling in the Land of Nephi that he taught his people to work “all manner of wood,” in the same verse he states that he also taught his people to work in “iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores” (2 Nephi 5:15). Wood is mentioned twice more in 2 Nephi, but has reference to trees blowing in the wind.

Once again, we find one of these theorists claiming something not found in scripture while trying to make an issue about something else he feels is not mentioned in scripture. However, in this particular case, this author is inaccurate in both counts.

As an example, he states: “does not say that Lehi's party crossed the Pacific Ocean” and also claims: “Yes, the Book of Mormon says that Lehi's American land of first inheritance was by a west sea, but there is nothing in the LDS scripture to make us conclude that this "sea...on the west" (Alma 22:27-28) was salt water (i.e. the Pacific Ocean).”

Now let’s take a look at both these points:

1) Jacob, in talking to the Nephites not long after being in the Land of Promise, and trying to allay their concerns that the Lord might not know where they were since they were no longer in Jerusalem, says: “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).

One Great Lakes Theory map showing that Lake Erie (which had no outlet to the sea) is their West Sea—it would be very difficult to reach this lake via the sea let alone have an island in the that sea

Obviously, then, the Lehi Colony was led across an ocean from the area of the southern Arabian coast (Oman) to the Land of Promise. While it does not say which ocean they crossed, the point is, they crossed an ocean.

2) Now the “sea on the west was salt water” is a foregone conclusion. When a ship is led across the sea to the Land of Promise, and that Land of Promise is an island in that sea, one can only conclude that that landing site—land of first inheritance—was in that self-same sea which the ship was led across. “The Lord has made the sea our path and we are upon an isle of the sea.”

(See the next post, “Wood Ship and West Sea Landing – Part II” to see how the ship crossed the sea)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Were The Jaredites All Annihilated or Were There Survivors? Part IV

It is hard to imagine how anyone can misconstrue the simple language of the Book of Ether regarding the total annihilation of the Jaredite nation down to the last man. However, Mesoamerican theorists, including Nibley, Sorenson, Hauck, et all, have insisted that Jaredites not only survived, but those survivors lived among the Mulekites, Nephites, and the Lamanites. They also claim that the Mulekites landed in the Land Northward and lived among the Jaredites before traveling south, which is contrary to Omni 1:16.

Yet, as has been shown in the last three posts, this does not agree with clearly stated scripture on the matter. Yet, Nibley wants us to believe that we are "over-simplifying the destruction of the Jaredites,” and that "only laziness and vanity lead the student to the early conviction that he has the final answers on what the Book of Mormon contains.”

Nibley also claims that the word “destroy” should be taken, as are so many other key words in the book, in its primary and original sense: "to unbuild, to separate violently into its constituent parts; to break up the structure”—that is, it is all right to say the Jaredite nation was destroyed, but not every man, woman and child, even though Ether never uses the word nation, only people. And, too, Nibley’s definition of “destroy” is a modern derivation of the original meaning of the word.

Turning to the time frame in which Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon (1829), we find an 1828 Noah Webster’s “American Dictionary of the English Language,” in which he describes the word “destroy” as: "to ruin, to annihilate; to lay waste, to make desolate, to kill, to slay, to extirpate (to pull or pluck up by the roots, to root out, to eradicate, to destroy totally); to cause to cease, to put an end to. In general, to put an end to, to annihilate."

The Lord said he would destroy man with the Flood. No one questions that only Noah and his immediately family were saved—all others perished

While Nibley quotes the destruction of Israel in several scriptures as not a total destruction, he fails to quote from Numbers 32 "Ye shall destroy all this people" and in Genesis 6:7 "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth" meaning all those evil and wicked who were completely and utterly destroyed or annihilated; and from Psalms, "All the wicked will he destroy,” which can only be understood as a total, annihilation or destruction.

But mainly, Ether tells us clearly and distinctly, that all were destroyed. All were killed. Only Coriantumr remained alive. To claim otherwise is to inject into scripture that which is not written, indicated, or suggested. Thus, the Jaredites were completely destroyed and none remained save it were Coriantumr who saw another people inherit the land, a people who buried him soon after as Ether prophesied (Ether 13:21).

Now, if Coriantumr was not the last Jaredite alive to see the land inherited by others, then why would the Lord have Either prophesy to him of this event? What would be the purpose of discussing another people to inherit the land if there were to be many Jaredites left alive. How could another people inherit the land if the land was already inherited by Jaredites who were not involved in this total annihilation? Such a prophesy would be meaningless for Ether to utter to Coriantumr, since, if all the Jaredites were not involved in this war, then he would know it and the words of Either would have no meaning. Nor would they have meaning when the Lord told Ether to go out and see that his word had been fulfilled.

No, scholars and theorists cannot change the meaning of scripture to fit their models and ideas.

Either wrote that in the first year of the war many were slain (Ether 13:18) in a conflict that involved every man (Ether 13:25). As the war continued, many thousands fell by the sword (Ether 14:4), and at one point part of Coriantumr’s army was slain (Ether 14:5), and people began to flock together in armies throughout all the face of the land (Ether 14:19), and as the war progressed, the whole face of the land was covered with the bodies of the dead (Ether 14:21). These dead included men, women and children (Ether 14:22), and since men had more than one wife (Ether 14:2), the numbers of the women and children would have been extensive. And as the armies chased one another they killed all the inhabitants that would not join their armies (Ether 14:27). Now the loss of men, women and children on both sides was so great that Shiz stopped chasing Coriantumr (Ether 14:31). Later the number killed of Coriantumr’s people was two million men, plus their wives and their children (Ether 15:1-2). Both armies gathered together all the people upon all the face of the land, who had not been slain, save it was Ether (Ether 15:12), an effort that took four years gathering together all who were upon the face of the land, including men, women and children (Ether 15:14-15). Finally, after the armies whittled down each other, all were killed except Coriantumr and Ether (Ether 15:29-30,33).

This sounds pretty definitive. Perhaps it is Nibley, as many scholars do, that is trying to over-scholarize the simple wordage of the scriptures. Men of letters often try to complicate matters so they can show forth their knowledge. But the Lord speaks to the average man—not to the scholar only. Thus, the simple wordage of the scriptures are open to the understanding of simple men who are taught by the spirit, not by academia.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Were The Jaredites All Annihilated or Were There Survivors? Part III

Hugh Nibley, John L. Sorenson, and Richard Hauck, and many other Mesoamerican theorists believes do not believe in the total destruction of the Jaredites (see last two posts), and cite numerous reasons why there were Jaredite survivors—however, the scriptures are quiet clear and their purpose in showing this annihilation is quite clear for it illustrates the predictions of the Lord, the prophecies made by his prophets, and the outcome as recorded in scripture. It might be well for these and other Mesoamerican theorists to reconsider the scriptural account of those who recorded events right before their eyes and did so as the Lord commanded, rather than assume they, as scholars and writers, know more.

It should also be considered that when Limhi’s 43-man expeditionary force traveled north to find Zarahemla and ended up in the Land Northward (Mosiah 8:8), so far north they came to a land of many waters—these waters were so far north the distance is referred to as “an exceeding great distance” (Helaman 3:4). Obviously, these men traveled across much of the Land Northward (Mosiah 21:26), yet they never saw another living soul, though they found heaps of bones scattered all over the land, swords, weapons of war, shields, and the 24 plates left by Ether. But they never found another SINGLE PERSON.

Common sense would tell anyone that if there were surviving Jaredites, this group would have encountered someone—at least some sign of living people. Yet all they found were ruins of buildings of all kinds.

In addition, there certainly were no Jaredites living among Limhi’s people for when Ammon arrived from Zarahemla, Limhi wanted to know if the Jaredite writing on the plates of Ether could be interpreted for he was “desirous that these records should be translated into our language” and the reason he wanted them translated was because “they will give us a knowledge of a remnmant of the people who have been destroyed” and that they would “give us a knowledge of this very people who have been destroyed” (Mosiah 8:12). It was Zarahemla who said of the plates he could not read “Doubtless a great mystery is contained within these plates” (Mosiah 8:13).

Certainly there were no Jaredites living in the city of Zarahemla among the Mulekites when Mosiah I arrived, for none there could interpret the stone engraven upon by the Jaredite Coriantumr. So they brought the stone to Mosiah and he interpreted the Jaredite writing (Omni 1:20).

Then, too, when Limhi brought the 24 plates of Ether to Zarahemla (Mosiah 21:27; 22:14), Mosiah translated the record because of “the great anxiety of his people, for they were desirous beyond measure to know concerning those people who had been destroyed” (Mosiah 28:12). Once again, if any Jaredites had been among the Muleites and Nephites in Zarahemla, surely they would have already known what befell their people in the Land Northward. But as Mosiah clearly states no one knew about them except that their bones had been discovered.

Much later, when Alma, in entrusting the records to his son, Helaman, spoke of the 24 plates of Ether and the reasons for the destruction of the Jaredite people in which he said, “these people were destroyed on account of their wickedness and abominations and their murders. For behold, they murdered all the prophets of the Lord who came among them to declare unto them concerning their iniquities” Alma 37:29-30).

The Lord said “I will bring forth out of darkness unto light all their secret works and their abominations, and except they repent, I will destroy them from off the face of the earth and I will bring to light all their secrets and abominations, unto every nation that shall hereafter possess the land” (Alma 37:25). After quoting the Lord, Alma, speaking about the Jaredites to his son Helaman, added, “And now, my son, we see that they did not repent; therefore they have been destroyed, and thus far the word of God has been fulfilled; yea, their secret abominations have been brought out of darkness and made known unto us” (Alma 37:26). Therefore, in talking of the Jaredite nation—they did not repent therefore they were completely destroyed. As the Lord said, “destroyed from off the face of the earth.”

Thus we see that Mosiah and Alma both understood that the Jaredites had been completely destroyed. That should make it quite clear that there were no Jaredite survivors.

(See the next post, “Were The Jaredites All Annihilated or Were There Survivors? Part IV,” to see the confusion created by Mesoamerican theorists over this very explicit fact)