Thursday, April 30, 2015

What is Wrong With Being a Literalist?

Not long ago in a discussion, an acquaintance, annoyed at a scriptural response to his question I gave him, said half in disgust, “Oh, you’re a literalist.” I told him that, if by that comment he meant I accept the scriptural record the way it is written and go by it, I told him “yes.”
When it comes to the Book of Mormon and the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon, I am very much a literalist. I believe, without question, that the Book of Mormon was inspired by the Lord, that both the original writers of it and the abridgers (Mormon and Moroni) were inspired as to what they chose to include in the work, from the doctrines and spiritual experiences listed, to the descriptions (to help us better understand the circumstances, settings and doctrines outlined) were included for our benefit, knowledge and enlightenment. I do not agree with Hugh Nibley, John L. Sorenson, and many other theorists, that some of the Book of Mormon is true, but other parts are either inaccurate, misleading or need to be interpreted differently. I simply do not see the Spirit acknowledging what Joseph Smith wrote as being incorrect, hard to understand, or misleading, such as Mormon thinking of a north-south land that meant something different to him than to us—if the Spirit worked that way, then what is the use of having the Spirit guide an direct if that guidance and direction is going to be misleading.
    Do scriptures sometimes mean more than we think they do? Quite often. Do scriptures mean something other than what they say? No. We may need a deeper understanding of the background of a thought or idea, such as understanding the parables spoken to an agrarian society people if we are an urban society reader, but the wordage of the scripture is not misleading or incomprehensible to the average person who reads it.
Why certain scholars think they are smarter and more capable of understanding the scriptural record than others has always been a mystery. As Nephi clearly told us, “For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding” (2 Nephi 31:3)
    Since the Lord talks to us in our language for our understanding, how can someone claim that the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon must be understood by scholars who then need to tell us what things mean. Hugh Nibley continually said that members of the Church needed to stop looking at the simplicity of the Book of Mormon, yet Nephi clearly said that his “soul delighteth in plainness and after this manner doth the Lord work among the children of men.”
    Will study and pondering give us deeper meanings and greater understanding? Absolutely. Will study and pondering show us errors in the scriptures? No. Errors occur when man’s thinking assumes man is smarter than God and other people and only he knows what is meant, and therefore tells others of his “discoveries.”
Did Mormon or Moroni ever include their own thinking in their abridgements? Obviously, (Alma 3:13; 22:35; Ether 2:13; 6:1 9:1; 13:1), but they were also guided by the Spirit (Words of Mormon 1:7; 3:16, 20; Ether 4:5; 5:1); Nephi was constrained by the Spirit (1 Nephi 4:10; 7:15; 2 Nephi 28:1), and the Spirit stopped his utterance (2 Nephi 32:7), and talked to him directly (1 Nephi 4:11-12, 18; 11:2, 4, 8, 11). Judging from these and the numerous other indications of the workings of the Spirit in conjunction with the scriptural record, to think that the Spirit allowed any errors, mistakes, misleading, or inaccurate comments into the scriptural record, or ignored problems, inaccuracies, or errors into the abridgements or translation, does not seem likely.
    It is also just as unlikely that Hugh Nibley and John L. Sorenson’s comments that the scriptural record needs scholars to interpret it for us, or that what we first read is not correct, but that we need to look beyond the obvious for more correct meanings.
    When Mormon said that the time of grace for the Nephites was past, did he not understand the doctrine of which he spoke? Did he misquote that and make an error? The man that speaks of living and working and writing by the Spirit tells us of the descriptions of the land he walked over and fought upon for 65 years—did he not know what he was talking about when he described it for us? When he inserted his descriptions of the land, did he not know which was north and south, which was east and west? Did he not know where he had been, what land was located where in relationship to each other? Did he just stumble through those descriptions? If so, then what makes us think he did not stumble through the doctrines and spiritual matters of which he wrote? How can we be certain he understood the workings of God, the teachings of the Lord, the utterances of the Spirit when he did not know the directions of his land, or where different areas were located?
    Can we trust the words of Mormon on this when he couldn’t even describe a “narrow neck of land” of which it took a Nephite a day and a half to cross without leading to numerous present-day historians and theorists dissecting that and coming up with a score of different meanings?
And what about Nephi? Was he so unlearned that he did not know where he traveled, did not know the direction of that travel when he wrote about it? Was he so inept that he could not tell where his ship went and how it was driven? Did he knot know what “driven forth before the wind” meant? Did he deliberately or accidentally mean to mislead us when he talked about winds and currents, i.e., in being the motive power of his ship and determining its direction? Did he not know enough about the land upon which he landed and walked about to not describe it correctly when he wrote about it?
    Was Jacob so out of touch with the spirit that when he spoke in a two-day conference (2 Nephi 9:54) to the Nephites that he really did not understand that his home, the land of promise was an island when he said it was? (2 Nephi 10:20). And if he did not know that, or was told that in a vision by the Lord, then why on earth would he say that was their home? Was he trying to cause confusion for those who would later read his words? And in speaking that before all the Nephites gathered at the Conference, did not one wonder why he knew that and they did not? Would not someone have said something requiring him to further explain his meaning. When he told them they had traveled over a sea and upon that very sea was the island upon which they landed, would someone not have asked how he came by that understanding if it was not common knowledge among them? If that was a surprise to them, wouldn’t it have required a further explanation on such an important subject as all of them not being cut off from the Lord?
It seems amazing to me that so many writers (theorists) accept the doctrines, but not the descriptions. It also seems that in the writing, the one goes with the other—you cannot separate one part of the writing from the other. Why Olive can accept the doctrines yet show us that the alignment Mormon wrote about of the lands from south to north (Nephi, Zarahemla, Bountiful, Desolation Land of Many Waters) were actually not in that alignment, but on a line west to east with Zarahemla, Bountiful, Sea East, Cumorah and Land of Many Waters; the same could be said for John L. Sorenson’s Mesoamerica east to west alignment. Funny they think Mormon got the doctrines right, but not the land alignment. It is sad, though, that so many people agree with them and ignore Mormon’s perfectly clear descriptions.
    I would rather be a literalist than try to determine which things Mormon got right and which ones he got wrong. How much easier it is to simply accept that he knew what he was talking about in everything, or in nothing, rather than to try and pick and choose which is correct and which isn't.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Truth of the Matter – Part II

Continuing from the last post in which we discussed the lack of truth in people (theorists) who write and support views of the Land of Promise location and descriptions that are not consistent with Mormon’s simple and clear descriptions of that land he knew so well, but rather support their own views of their pre-determined location. 
Another example of ignoring the scriptural record is our discussion over the last two posts regarding metal ores listed throughout the Book of Mormon—in order to work ore as stated, you first have to find it. From the earliest time the Nephites found all manner of ore, including gold, silver and copper (1 Nephi 18:25), as well as iron and other precious ores (2 Nephi 5:15); and down through the centuries (Jarom 1:8; Mosiah 8:10; 11:3,8,10; Alma 1:29; 4:6; 17:14; 31:24,28; Helaman 7:21; 12:2; 13:28), including precious ores in great abundance (2 Nephi 5:15), as well as an ore called ziff (Mosiah 11:3), as well as “an exceeding plenty of gold, silver and precious metals in the land south and the land north (Helaman 6:9,11,31). Alma even describes the Nephite money of gold and silver coins (Alma 11:3-19). Such ore was equally found in the Land Northward by the Jaredites, who dug up great heaps of earth to get ore of gold, silver, iron and copper (Ether 10:23).
    The point is, if one is going to place the Book of Mormon Land of Promise in an area, it should be an area where gold, silver and copper were plentiful over a 2600 year period—that is, not just a site here or there, but an entire land of ore deposits of gold, silver and copper, as the Book of Mormon so clearly describes.
    Yet, the Great Lakes, Heartland, and eastern United States locations are not lands of plentiful ores of gold, silver and copper. Sure there is some, but it is not plentiful, with the vast majority of the U.S. natural resources in such things found in the Western states and Alaska.
    Most of the gold mining districts in the West were located by pioneers, many of whom were experienced gold miners from the southern Appalachian region, but even in colonial times only a small proportion of the gold seekers were successful. We sometimes think of our technology today that allows us to dig deep into rock formations discovered through highly technical and intensive metallurgical techniques, that finding gold was a simple factor in Book of Mormon times; however, such was not the case. Geologists and engineers who systematically investigate remote parts of the country find small placer diggings and old prospect pits whose number and wide distribution imply few, if any, recognizable surface indications of metal-bearing deposits were overlooked by the earlier miners and prospectors.
Of course, you can still find gold even today in locations, mainly in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. But note that none is considered in areas of the eastern U.S., especially in the Great Lakes, Heartland, or Mississip basin areas commonly considered by some as the Book of Mormon lands.
    Still, the development of new, highly sensitive, and relatively inexpensive methods of detecting gold, which has greatly increased the possibility of discovering gold deposits which are too low grade to have been recognized earlier by the prospector using only a gold pan, would not have been that which the Jaredites or Nephites found, even though the Jaredites were known to have dug deep into the ground for their ore (Ether 10:23). But Nephi indicates that what he found was readily available and certainly visible from the surface (1 Nephi 18:25).
    All of this suggests that most of the precious ores found in the U.S. to-date have been located in the west, far from the lands many consider to have been where the Jaredites and Nephites occupied. These western states still show much gold, silver and copper to be mined.
Left: Just in the state of Oregon, according to the Oregon Historical Mining and Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, there are over a thousand such mines; Right: The hundreds of mines in Arizona
    So we look elsewhere to find matching gold, silver and copper deposits that show plentiful precious and highly usable ore. In doing so, many think of Mexico, because of the Spanish conquest and all the gold that was discovered and shipped back to Spain.
    However, the earliest evidence for metallurgy in the New World, dating from before 1500 BC, consists of bits of thin worked gold foil found in the hands of a man in a grave in the southern highlands of Peru. Nearby lay what was a tool-worker’s kit. The oldest extant elegant gold work is of the Chavin style, dating from about 800 BC. In the ensuing centuries metalworking slowly spread, southward to northwest Argentina and northward to Colombia, toward the end of the last millennium BC, and to Central America in the early centuries AD. Although tools and weapons were made, metal was used principally for objects that symbolized power, and, by identification with this power, lordly status. Mythological motifs and beings were often depicted as intermediaries between man and the forces of nature.
    In the Land Northward, home of the Jaredites, the principle metals exploited in pre-Hispanic times was gold and copper. Of these, gold was readily available, and silver and platinum were also mined there anciently, especially from the rivers of Colombia and Ecuador—the silver found in most archaeological specimens was not specifically added, but was present naturally in the gold. The favorite material was tumbaga (a gold-copper alloy with some accidental silver), which, under the names guanin gold or caricoli, was in use all round the Spanish Main at the time of the first European visits. According to Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés, the Spanish historian and writer, wrote of the indigenous natives “worked this gold, and have the custom of mixing it with copper and silver, and they adulterated it as much as they wish, and so it is of various purities and values.”
The first gold was discovered at El Oro, now played out; the next was at Guanajuato, still producing—both of these are at the extreme northern end of the Mesoamerican Land Northward, a great distance from their Land Southward, and also quite some distance north of the Land of Moron where the Jaredites settled
    However, in reality, there is hardly any gold or other precious ore in Mesoamerica except for Mexico, where the majority of gold mined is as a co-product of silver and of copper. Yet, most of such deposits, especially those that were easily accessible, were in the north, beyond Mesoamerica, or in the far areas of their Land Northward, such as Veta Madre at Guanajuato, found in 1540 (and produced 66% of the world’s silver for 250 years; and 30% after 1790), which would be along the area the Jaredites called Ripliancum (today inland from Puerto Vallarta), or El Oro de Hidalgo, 1521, most of the early (Spanish) mines centered in the northwestern portion of Mexico and the upper half of Baja California, in which some 30-35 mines exist—the area where most of Mexico’s mining, especially silver, has been found and which has caused them to eclipse Peru in silver production; however, this area is far from Mesoamerica, and very far north of their Jaredite lands and far north of the map above.
A chart of the 2012 (most recent) world production graph of copper, which shows clearly how Chile and Peru combined far outstrip all other producing regions, especially that of Mexico, the only area within Mesoamerica (and half of Mexico is not considered Mesoamerica) that produces any amount of copper to speak of, where, according to the Central American Mineral Industries, Guatemala (very small amount of gold, iron ore and lead, though it has oil and natural gas reserves), Belize (no precious metal ores) and Honduras (small amounts of gold, lead and zinc, and byproducts of silver) are found in insignificant amounts
    Yet, even in Mexico, the amount pales compared to the Andean area of South America, which has such gold, silver and copper-rich lands, now controlled by Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia, that this land out-produces by far any other country or region in the Western Hemisphere, in gold, silver and copper.
     Consequently, for all those who just look on a map and decide for one reason or another that a particular spot must be the Land of Promise and Lehi’s landing place, perhaps a more accurate comparison to the scriptural record might be in order. Just because Mesoamerica has ruins of an advanced society dating to sometime around the Jaredite-Nephite era, does not make that the place—after all, Hagoth sailed in ships with emigrants to other areas (to the north, and probably to the west), as well. In addition, just because someone places a hill Cumorah in New York, does not make that the Land of Promise, either. The land, and where Lehi landed, can only be determined through following the word-by-word description of Nephi’s journey to the promised land, and Mormon’s word-by-word description of that land.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Truth of the Matter – Part I

It is interesting how Theorists, no matter how strong their beliefs, no matter how complete they make their models, no matter how obvious their errors, are willing to hold onto their opinions in the glaring proof of truth, or at least when their opinions cannot be supported in relation to the very scriptural record that discusses the basis of those beliefs. In the past two posts, as well as numerous others over the past five years, we have time and again shown a relationship to the scriptural record and the area of Andean Peru that is undeniably accurate, and far closer in matching Mormon’s descriptions than Mesoamerica, the Great Lakes, eastern United States, heartland, Baja California, or the Malay Peninsula, yet we continue to receive comments from time to time by people trying to defend those opinions.
Mormon purposely inserted a 34-line, 568-word description into the abridgement of Alma’s writing (Alma 22:27-34), to give his future readers an understanding of the Land of Promise, in which he used the word “north” or “northward” nine times, and he used the word “south” or “southward” four times, in aligning the various lands mentioned along a north-south line; however, Mesoamericanists stubbornly choose a setting for this land on an east-west alignment, where these lands are “east” or “eastward,” “west” or “westward” of each other along an east-west line, 90º skewed off of Mormon’s land description
    The even more interesting thing is that people insist on supporting and defending ideas that are clearly not consistent with the scriptural record, as though it is some person’s beliefs and ideas that sometimes strays from the truth, accuracy, or reality, and needs the help of modern man to interpret and clarify those mistakes so that today we can better understand what those men who lived at the time in the land they wrote about very clearly and distinctly for us, their future reader.
    As an example, Mormon clearly writes about directions of the Land of Promise, using all four cardinal and inordinate directions consistently and understandably, yet along comes John L. Sorenson of the BYU archaeology department to tell us that Mormon really had a totally different meaning to his north, east, south, and west orientation, calling it “Nephite North.”
    Or along comes Phyllis Carol Olive to show us that instead of her map of the Land of Promise matching the scriptural record, she lists everything out of order with one another in order for it to match her location. In her map below, the large Green Arrow points to her Land Northward, and going south the red arrow to the Narrow Neck of Land, but then the (tan arrow) Land of Desolation, which should be in the Land Northward, she places it in the Land Southward, and from there it gets worse.
While Olive writes on her map about the elevations of the land, she misplaces the (white arrow) hill Cumorah (and the Land of Many Waters), showing both to the (yellow arrow) east of Bountiful, to the (red arrow) east of the Narrow Neck of Land, to the (tan arrow) east of the land of Desolation, and even east of the (blue arrow) East Sea—yet none who follow her think this is a problem, even though Mormon clearly states that Cumorah and the Land of Many Waters are far north of Bountiful, north of the narrow neck of land and north of the land of Desolation—how far from the scriptural record can one get in describing their erroneous views? And how far afield will readers go to justify their belief in one person's model or another?
    Olive's errors occur because she has taken the hill Cumorah and made it the focal point of her map and location, but because it is not the same hill Cumorah as that in the scriptural record, nothing else can be placed in the correct location from each other in relation to it.
    Actually, theorist after theorist could be cited here showing their inaccurate portrayal of the Land of Promise that Mormon, who walked and fought across the land from the southern borders of the land of Zarahemla to the northern boundaries of the Land Northward at Cumorah in the Land of Many Waters (Mormon 6:4; compare Mosiah 8:8 with “so far northward” in Alma 22:30), and from the eastern boundary to the West Sea, simply did not, from their point of view, understand his land as well as these modern writers do. When one really considers what they try to tell us, it is almost comical to think that someone today is going to know and understand that land better than those who lived on it and wrote about it.
    As an example, Olive wrote about her choosing Cumorah as her starting point: “With nothing more than the Book of Mormon, and the location of Cumorah, we can deduce that Great Lake Erie has to be the “west sea” bordering Nephite and Lamanite lands!” Now, while some may say that sounds reasonable, the scriptural record is not made up of unrelated statements, like the Book of Psalms, where each verses is a separate thought, or maxim, i.e., a short, pithy statement expressing a general truth or rule of conduct. The Book of Mormon is 522 pages of a basic continuous story-line (though Ether is after and not before in the order), briefly covering some 1600 years of the Jaredite kingdom and 1000 years of the Nephite nation. It all takes place on the same basic land (promised land or Land of Promise), as hundreds of generations flow across its pages. In all of that, mostly three men (Nephi, Mormon and Moroni), write about or abridge these events, who describe these interconnecting locations and events quite clearly.
    When Nephi tells us he built a ship and sailed across the sea toward the promised land (1 Nephi 18:8) and landed upon the promised land (1 Nephi 18:23), and Jacob tells us “for the Lord has made the sea our path and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20), there is absolutely nothing other than for us to understand that Lehi left in a ship from the area he called Bountiful (1 Nephi 17:5), sailed directly across a sea, which he called Irreantum (1 Nephi 17:5), to the Land of Promise where they landed and settled (on an island in that sea), and that landing spot was along the West Sea in the south “in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers' first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore” (Alma 22:28).
    Yet despite as clear of an understanding as Nephi and Jacob give us as to the fact that Lehi sailed across the sea and landed on an island of that very sea, which the Nephites later called the West Sea—that West Sea is not inland as Olive writes as though there is absolutely no description like those mentioned above in the scriptural record, and she was free to make it all up, placing her seas where she wanted.
The hill Cumorah in western New York state (Yellow Arrow: Angel Moroni statue in both photos), where Joseph Smith found the buried plates; when comparing this hill with the scriptural record, it is easy to see that this hill in no way compares with the hill from which Mormon and the others looked down upon the carnage of hundreds of thousands of dead (Mormon 6:11-15), let alone where they were secreted from further attack of the Lamanites, despite the fact tht the Lamanites could have moved about this low-lying hill from any angle with ease
    Olive’s comments were based on her belief that the hill Cumorah mentioned in the Book of Mormon is the same hill Cumorah the early Saints called the drumline in western New York, which it is clearly not, especially when trying to compare it with the scriptural record; however, even if it was, her idea of “deduction and best fit” is not acceptable when it goes against Nephi, Jacob, and Mormon’s clear description of where that West Sea was located—and it was not an inland lake with no ship access to the sea over which they sailed as Olive claims, because Jacob tells is it was the same sea over which they sailed.
    Not to belabor this type of example, since we have written about this and others like it several times over the past five years, we do need to draw attention to the type of thinking which is misleading at best and quite disingenuous at worst, that ignores clear description of the Land of Promise in favor of someone’s idea of a “best fit” in trying to match a pre-determined land and not the descriptive land of the scriptural record. When one choose a “best fit,” or “best candidate,” or any other example of what or where something was that is not exact, the changes are they will pick and choose an a place that matches their pre-determined area and not necessarily, and often not at all, like the description in the scriptural record.
(See the next post, “The Truth of the Matter – Part II,” for the rest of this very important issue about using the scriptural record to determine where the Jaredite kingdom and the Nephite nation existed and how to recognize that land today)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Metallurgy in Andean Peru—Both of Gold and of Silver and of Copper – Part II

Continuing from the last post on the use of gold, silver and copper in Andean South America, where metallurgy flourished long before it was used in Mesoamerica. Also, as stated in the last post, Nephi’s statement “we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper” in the Land of Promise, leads us to look for ore that contains all three of these metals in a single parent rock—in fact, the weight of gold, silver, and copper are similar enough that often you can find some combination of all of the "three metals" mixed together. 
While gold is often found mixed with iron, finding raw ore where gold, silver and copper are mixed is not as common; Top Left: A sample of all three metals in one rock; Top Right: All three metals bubbled up in a single rock; Bottom: A solid vein of gold, silver and copper, estimated at 14,000 tons of ore containing about 385 tons of copper, 2,350 oz. of gold, 14,700 oz. of silver in an area that is known as a gold, silver and copper producer in Peru
    As has been stated in these pages over the past five years, this gold, silver and copper in a single ore is found throughout Chile and Peru, but not at all in Mesoamerica (except one location in Honduras), nor in the eastern United States (though it is found in the West, particularly in Arizona).
It should also be noted that in Andean South America is also found the naturally occurring electrum (left)—a natural ore of gold and silver with trace amount of copper. The ancient Greeks called it “gold” or “white gold” as opposed to “refined gold.” Its color ranges from pale to bright yellow, depending on the proportions of gold and silver.
    Epithermal ore deposits (economic concentrations of gold, silver and base metals, including copper) form at shallow depth and are often associated with comparatively young volcanic rocks. Electrum has been found in these epithermal gold-silver deposits of both high- and low-sulfidation styles, and in silver-gold epithermal vein systems associated with silver and other sulfides in many bonanza type silver mining districts. It is found in Nevada, such as at the Comstock lode, Tonopah and at Round Mountain (where it is still actively mined). It is found with the rich silver ores of Mexico, and in Andean South America in Chile, Peru and Bolivia. They are usually found in high-grade, small deposits.
    Electrum meets all the standard tests for metallic, native gold, but contains a much higher than normal silver content; however, it contains only trace amounts of copper. According to Burger and Morris (Variations in the Expression of Inka: a Symposium at Dumbarton Oaks, 2007 p 318), the role of copper as the "instrument of transformation" was so important that all Andean alloys except for the naturally occurring electrum were alloys of other metals with copper.
When it comes to copper, Chile is the world’s largest producer, providing 40% of global copper production. Peru, at a distant third, out-produces each of the next 18 copper producing countries, including the United States, Canada, Russia and Mexico (U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey)
    Combined, Chile and Peru produce over 6.7 million tonnes annually, compared to 1.2 million in the U.S., 500,000 in Mexico, and only about 50 pounds Guatemala. Copper production in the U.S. is centered in the west, with no mines listed in the top 50 east of the Mississippi and nothing over 4000 tons, other than the Copper Country of upper peninsula Michigan and Copper Basin Mining District in Tennessee (see map).
Around the Mississippi and eastward, copper production of any size is centered in three areas: Sullivan/Shannon Counties Missouri; Upper Peninsula Michigan; and Copper Basin Tennessee and Northern Georgia
    As an example, at the Chanape mine in Peru, which is taking its rightful place on a list of remarkable mineral occurrences in this remarkable mineral country, a CU (copper), AU (gold) and AG (silver) mine, covering at least a mile long by 2/3 mile wide deposit with at least 70 breccia bodies, with widespread gold, silver and copper high-grade mineralization.
Peru is home to numerous porphyry deposits of gold, silver and copper, among others, which occur This enrichment occurs in the porphyry itself, or in other related igneous rocks or surrounding country rocks, especially carbonate rock (in a process similar to skarns). Collectively, these type of deposits are known as "porphyry copper deposits." Today, Peru is the location of many “flagship” projects, and a country described as one of the premier mining and exploration destinations in the world and hosts many world-class mines and developing mineral deposits, and attracts one fifth of the world’s exploration expenditure.
    For those historians and scholars who continually theorize about Mesoamerica and other American locations for the Nephite nation, it should be kept in mind that metal coins have not only been found in the Andean area, but 1) they were made of Electrum, a metal described by Nephi, and 2) Lehi and Nephi would have been familiar with such coins in Jerusalem, since electrum was used to mint coins earlier than 600 B.C. In fact Greek coins mintged in the 7th century B.C. used 55.5% electrum, not gold or silver. In fact, the Pactolus River (Sart Çayı) beside the slopes of Mount Tmolus (Boz Dağ) in the kingdom of Lydia (west of Mesopotamia) was one of the most important sources of electrum in the ancient world, and just as the rulers of the Middle East today have become wealthy from oil, so the ancient Lydian kings became rich by accumulating and minting coins from electrum. The capital city of ancient Lydia was Sardis (Sart), and it was a major commercial center linking the Asian kingdoms of the east with the coastal Greek cities of Ionia, including Miletus. It is not an accident that the first coins appeared in the important commercial centers of Lydia and adjacent Ionia, nor that the first system of bimetallic currency—the first system of interrelated gold and silver issues—was also developed there.
Left: Third-stater coin—1/3rd  Lion’s head coins 600 B.C. (double incuse punches on the reverse—this coin was a larger denomination than 1/12th with one incuse punch); Right: Twelfth-stater coin (more rare today)—1/12th Lion’s head coins 610-560 B.C. Chevrons on neck are different
    The electrum lion coins of ancient Lydia should probably be considered the world’s first true coins, in the sense of a state-issued quantity of metal impressed with a consistent type. The earliest issues, thought to date from the reign of Alyattes (about 610–560 BC) of the Mermnad dynasty—feature the Lydian kings’ emblem of a roaring lion, almost always with a curious knob, often called a “nose wart,” on its forehead. Reid Goldsborough has written a very thorough review of what is known about the history of these electrum lion coins of Lydia, and his essay includes citations to the relevant technical literature on the subject.
The coin in the middle was an electrum (gold and silver ore) coin struck in Ionia about the time Lehi left Jerusalem. The two coins on the right of very similar simplicity and without the typical Greek or Roman type heads or writing, were found in pre-Columbian Peru, and date to ancient metallurgic times
    The point is that while gold and silver coins were introduced by Mormon in the scriptural record (Alma 11:3-19), and that gold, silver and copper were abundant in the Andean area, and that ancient coins were found there, it is just another example of matching the Land of Promise location to all points mentioned in the scriptural record. It is also apparent that for all the gold, silver and copper mentioned in the scriptural record, that these ores are by far more plentiful in the Andean area than anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere, date to Nephite times (while Mesoamerican and eastern U.S. do not), and archaeological findings show that Andean Peru had the most excellently made metallurgy and textiles of anywhere found in the Western Hemisphere.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Metallurgy in Andean Peru—Both of Gold and of Silver and of Copper – Part I

This scriptural reference given by Nephi has been entirely overlooked by all Theorists, at least as we read their writings about the Land of Promise. Mesoamericanists especially, and those who favor the eastern U.S. (Heartland, Great Lakes, Mound Building in Mississippi Basin, etc.), appear unresponsive of the idea that Nephi clearly stated when he combined three ores following the word “both,” which means “two.” 
On the other hand, the theorists mentioned above have difficulty with the entire concept of metallurgy in the scriptural record, since nothing of any significance has been found in the ground after several decades of archaeological work looking for such metal artifacts. In fact, while the earliest metallurgy found in Mesoamerica dates to around 900 A.D., though some (like John L. Sorenson) have claimed as early as 600 A.D. There has been none found in the eastern U.S. in B.C. times.
    However, it was in Andean South America, where metallurgy is considered to have first begun in the Americas, specifically in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Ecuador—with the earliest gold work dated to 2155 to 1936 B.C., and mostly in very intricate ornamentation.
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
    Indigenous South Americans had full metallurgy with smelting and various metals being purposely alloyed, while metallurgy in Mesoamerica developed from contacts with South America. In addition, extensive use of smelting kilns has been found in the area of Lake Titicaca (Puma Punku and Tiahuanacu) as early as 8000 B.C. through 500 A.D., in making metal I-beams used to connect huge stone blocks.
    Fully developed smelting in adobe brick furnaces has been found among the Moche of Peru (200 B.C.) along the coast where ores were extracted at shallow deposits in the Andean foothills, and brought to the specialized metallurgical workshops in the developed cities where it was shaped and formed into high numbers of objects. According to Heater Lechtman (“The Production of Copper-Arsenic Alloys in the Central Andes: Highland Ores and Coastal Smelters,” Journal of Field Archaeology, 1991, 18 pp 43-76), the placement of these workshops in the administrative sections of cities suggests the high importance the people placed upon metal and those who worked it. It is interesting to note that the type of copper-arsenic alloys, enargite is only found in the high sierra of the central Andes, while arsenopyrite is also available in some of the north coast valleys.
    Professor of Archaeology at M.I.T., Lechtman, trained in archaeology and anthropology, and the Director of the Center for Materials Research in Archaeology and Ethnology, and who has carried out field work in the Andean zone of South America for 30 years, has as her specialty the prehistoric Andean metallurgy. From her field and laboratory studies, Andean metallurgy emerges as a technology quintessentially Andean, distinct from the early metallurgies of western Asia, Europe, and Africa. She is considered an expert in ancient American metallurgy and especially of that found in ancient prehistoric Peru.
    As she states, “Although Andean metallurgy stressed the non-utilitarian quality of its products, it was among the most sophisticated of prehistoric metallurgical traditions in the Old World and the New, and it was through the very technologies involved in their manufacture that those same non-utilitarian metal objects provided the Peruvian with an important means of perpetuating their normative power” (Technologies of Power: The Andean Case, Heather Lechtman Cornell University Press, (p244)
According to Lechtman, metallurgy and cloth in the Andes assumed a very different social role than that of Europe and Asia, where both were used for very different purposes. In the Andes, both metallurgy and textiles reached great heights, even greater than in the Old World in technique and process, producing very high quality results that have seldom been seen elsewhere, yet has often been overlooked by historians because of this difference—beauty and perfection over utilitarian usage, i.e., weapons and tools, and were the source of power, while in the Andes, the art and beauty were the source of power.
    This is much like the Book of Mormon, where the Nephites, while involved in the pages of the scriptural record were often defending themselves against Lamanite attack, were more involved in their religion, and their society, than in standing armies and tools for accomplishment.
    It was also very Nephite for them to have had exceptional silk and fine-twined linen, costly apparel, and all manner of good homely cloth of every kind (Mosiah 10:5; Alma 1:29; Helaman 6:13), as well as Jaredite (Ether 8:36-37; 9:17; 10:24).
    Another issue that is something seldom discussed among archaeologists and materialists, and that is the actual movement from stone tools (hammers, knives, chisels, and querns, as well as arrowheads, axes, spear points, maces and slings) to those of bronze, was more from a society standpoint a matter of cost than utility. According to Karen Olsen Bruhns (Ancient South America, Cambridge University Press 1994), Bronze tools were often an expensive substitute for the equally efficient stone tools so easily made and functionally effective.
    The word “stone” in this sense often brings to mind “rock,” however, stone tools were often made of obsidian, flint, chert, rhyolites, felsites, quartites, jasper and others, which were both inexpensive and very effective.
    Which brings us back to the first comment above “both gold, and silver, and copper.” Obviously, the word “both” means “two,” as in “both a dog and a cat.” One would not say “both a dog and a cat and a monkey.” But Nephi and Joseph Smith were not using improper grammar as some suppose. To understand this statement, we merely need to recognize that two of those items can categorically be placed as one—that is, the precious metals of gold and silver, which is one item, the non-precious metal “copper,” which is a second item. This is also seen in “the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam” (2 Nephi 9:21). Again, men and women are adults (one category) and children are not (another category). So what about both gold, and silver, and copper?
Top Left: Ore rock containing 3.95 ppm gold, 5 ppm silver, and 1% copper; Top Right: High grade silver, containing gold and copper; Bottom Left: Both gold, silver, and copper in a single ore sample; Bottom Right: Both gold, silver, and copper bubbled in a single ore
    So why did Nephi make such a statement? Obviously, because the Nephites found “all manner of ore,” including that which contained gold, silver and copper in a single ore. We need only keep in mind that ore often contains more than one metal, especially the ore of copper, which can contain gold, and it can contain gold and silver. Thus, we see that Nephi is telling us that he found abundant deposits of gold, silver and copper ore—a single ore containing all three metals.
    Now, copper is not found in gold and silver ore deposits everywhere—none, as a matter of fact in the Great Lakes region, and while tumbaga (a manufactured alloy of gold and copper) was found in Central America, it was not found in the ground in that manner, because it is a man-made alloy. It is a fact, though, that gold, silver and copper are found in single ore in Chile and Peru in Andean South America.
(See the next post, “Metallurgy in Andean Peru—Both of Gold and of Silver and of Copper – Part II,” for more on the use of gold, silver and copper in Andean South America, and metallurgy there long before it was used in Mesoamerica)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Rise of the Inca State and Empire – Part III

Continuing with the rise to power of the Inca Empire and how their short 94 year history was spent in conquering and administering, rather than in building and accomplishing great engineering fetes. 
    As the Inca expanded their Empire, it took an ever increasing Army charged with defending the sovereignty of the Empire, expanding its borders, and putting down rebellions—it was also often used for political purposes, such as executions or coups. The militaristic nature of the Inca monarchy caused great emphasis to be placed on the army and the position of the common soldier, who was given food and clothing and state aid for a he and his family to ensure that agricultural production did not suffer due to the absence of a productive worker. For these reasons full-time soldiers were held in high regard and they even occupied their own position in the socio-political pyramid.
When the army returned to Cuzco following a successful campaign they were received by women and children as heroes in a ceremony held in their honor. The ceremony took place in the Plaza de Armas in Cuzco and consisted of exhibiting the plunder and parading the prisoners as a symbol of the victory.
     In addition, the expanding Empire took a continually growing administration complex to administer, taking tens of thousands of people, including the rank and file workers of the conquered or assimilated societies. Keeping 10 million or more conquered people in line was no simple task and though the Inca used ingenious methods to do so, they still were heavily occupied with the administration of their Empire. They had little time for anything else—especially not the arts, vast building projects, or creating a magnificent road system.
     During this time, the center of the Empire was nestled in a mountain valley 10,000 feet above sea level, which had been a small village with a nondescript people when its first leader, Pachacuti, rose to power in 1438 A.D. and transformed it into a great city laid out in the shape of a puma. He also installed Inti, the Sun God, as the Incas' official patron, building him a wondrous temple.
     One of his ideas, which partly explains his and the Inca’s sudden rise to power, Pachacuti expanded the cult of ancestor worship. When a ruler died, his son received all his earthly powers—but none of his earthly possessions. All his land, buildings, and servants went to his panaqa, or other male relatives. The relatives used it to preserve his mummy and sustain his political influence, so that dead emperors maintained a living presence.
Thus, the new ruler had to create his own income. The only way to do that was to grab new lands, subdue more people, and expand the Empire of the Sun. At first it became the dominant power in the Cuzco valley—originally a community where life was fragile and families helped one another in planting and harvesting crops. Pachacuti used this small village mentality to transform the people into a society based on helping one another—which became helping the “State,” and building up the fledgling empire.
     With this “free” labor, the Inca—the name given or claimed by Pachacuti and all subsequent rulers, though in time it became the term used for the ruling family and finally for the ruling class—built large plazas in the middle of every city and settlement they developed, which became the center of festivities to which they invited neighboring chiefs. These parties lasted for days, sometimes as much as a month, in which the visiting chiefs were “wined, dined and entertained” until they felt obligated to honor the Inca’s request for further labor to build greater cities and larger plazas where even greater festivals could be held.
     At first, the Inca took advantage of existing buildings, cities, and complexes that had been developed by others, some more than fifteen hundred years earlier. Buildings and vast roadways were cleared, unified, expanded and even rebuilt where necessary, though most had weathered the ages in excellent condition, providing the Inca swift movement of their army during military campaigns.
A road built more than a thousand years before the Inca, and part of the Qhapac Ñan (Quechua for "The Great Road")
     In fact, the magnificent roadways, which the Spanish conquistadors likened very favorably to those of the early Romans, allowed the Inca to administer their expanding empire which, eventually, covered more than a thousand miles. Had those roads not been in place, and in excellent usable condition, the Inca could never have achieved their meteoric rise to power and the administration of such a vast Empire in the short time they had before the Spanish came.
     By the time the Spanish arrived in 1532, the Inca Empire was not only the largest empire in the Americas, but controlled some ten million or more people at a time when communications of control, leadership and administration were sent on foot.
     As for their administration and control buildings, districts and regions, they relied heavily on those already built by past societies, most dating into B.C. or early A.D. periods, and which had been built by engineers of a far greater ability than that possessed by the Inca. As an example, in Sacsayhuaman, on the plateau overlooking the valley, stonework was performed with such exactness, that vast pillowy boulders weighing many tons, even a hundred tons and more, were cut and dressed and set in place with such remarkable precision, even stonemasons today have a hard time understanding how it was accomplished without mortar and in such “earthquake-proof” manner. However, when it came to the Inca repairs, a far lesser ability is easily seen.
Sacsayhuaman showing both Nephite construction (large cut, dressed and fitted stones) and (yellow arrows) Inca repairs of small, stacked stones
     With only 160 soldiers, the uneducated Francisco Pizarro, a man who could not even write his own name, lured Inca Atahualpa to a peace meeting, treacherously killed him, and conquered the entire Inca empire, which opened up most of South America to Spanish rule, giving Spain control of a vast territory covering 375,000 miles with about ten million inhabitants. Pizarro, with his small band of cunning, ruthless, fearless, cruel and brutal men from poor regions of Spain who were desperate to make their fortune defied the odds and attacked and defeated the largest empire in the Western Hemisphere, fulfilling the promise the Lord made to Lehi, “But behold, when the time cometh that they shall dwindle in unbelief, after they have received so great blessings from the hand of the Lord -- having a knowledge of the creation of the earth, and all men, knowing the great and marvelous works of the Lord from the creation of the world; having power given them to do all things by faith; having all the commandments from the beginning, and having been brought by his infinite goodness into this precious land of promise -- behold, I say, if the day shall come that they will reject the Holy One of Israel, the true Messiah, their Redeemer and their God, behold, the judgments of him that is just shall rest upon them” (2 Nephi 1:10).
It was Mormon who signaled the beginning downfall of the Nephties when he wrote: “I saw that the day of grace was passed with them, both temporally and spiritually” (Mormon 2:15), and after they had been totally wiped out, leaving just Moroni (Mormon 8:5), the bloodthirsty Lamanites continued to war, commencing a civil war amongst themselves, “the Lamanites are at war one with another; and the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war” (Mormon 8:8). Twenty-five years later, Moroni adds: “For behold, their wars are exceedingly fierce among themselves; and because of their hatred they put to death every Nephite” (Moroni 1:2).
     Those ancient Lamanites who had survived a thousand years of civil war following the destruction of the Nephite nation of which Moroni wrote, found themselves at the mercy of a band of merciless conquistadors whose savagery was far more server than anywhere else in the Americas as the Land of Promise was finally overrun and the people ground into dust. Nowhere did the indigenous Aztec, Maya or Inca survive, especially in the Andes, where even today, almost 500 years after Pizarro, the people have not recovered.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Rise of the Inca State and Empire – Part II

Continuing with the fates that awaited the Lamanites after their 65 year war with the Nephites resulted in the complete destruction of that nation and the death of every Nephite man, woman and child. As stated in the last post, while we do not know what happened to the Lamanites following Moroni’s last entry around 421 A.D., in which the 25-year civil war among the Lamanites was still raging with no end in sight, we have quoted from a poem by Chauncey Thomas who relied on Fernandez Montesinos history of the Inca and their predecessors in describing their lives during this time. Chauncey’s poem continues: 
           And thus a thousands years had passed,
           Like created waves that roll on
           To break along a rock-bound shore,
           Then sink back silent in the vast abyss.

No truer words could be written about the lives of the Lamanites following the fall of the Nephite Nation—there is no written history, no record of their long-lasting civil war, their history for a thousand years did indeed sink into the vast abyss of silence as Lamanite generation after Lamanite generation was born, fought and died, as time passed like the constancy of waves rolling up on the beach moment after moment, day after day, year after year, without a change. 
          So had the noisy years for ages gone,
          Scattered their fretful foam athwart the world, 

          And sunk to silence in the endless past.
          A thousand years of war.
What more appropriate result of unrighteous debauchery performed by the Lamanites in their final 65-year war with the Nephites that Mormon so aptly describes, where men, women and children prisoners of war were sacrificed to idol gods. Yet though the Book of Mormon ends with the defeat of the Nephites, the lives of the conquering Lamanites no doubt went in a way that is so aptly characterized by Chancey’s poem: 
          Oh sympathy ‘tis will thou canst not scan
          With pitying eye the boundless world of woe the past hath known, 

          Else thou wouldst weep thine eyes away in grief, 
          And bless thy loss that thou no more could see…
          Our schemes o’er thrown, enemies bolder grown, 
          Days without peace, and nights without repose, 
          Friends turning cold, aye, many cold in death, 
          Yet colder than the dead, are friends estranged… 
One can easily feel the depression of this period where no hope, no chance for repose (rest), no peace could enter the soul. Where men for generations seemingly without end suffered and paid the price of their evil ancestors’ destruction of a once-righteous people who, themselves, fell from grace and suffered their own terrible destruction. 
         All this and other ills not yet complete,
         Do but destroy our inborn love of life,
         And make most welcome that which endeth all.

A thousand years of war, a heavy price to pay for the Lamanite people as a whole, who lived in the buildings once built and part of the Nephite Nation, using the roads the Nephites built for “there were many highways cast up, and many roads made, which led from city to city, and from land to land, and from place to place” (3 Nephi 6:8), building back up their societies, their cultures, a workable way of life not entirely based upon war and bloodshed.
    In the area of Cuzco, the people who later became known as the Inca were mostly a pastoral tribe, that around 1400 began a period of cultural development. While some of this was innovative, most was built on already proven, sustainable techniques and complexes developed by previous societies, originating back to the first Peruvians, the Nephites. Buildings existed, roads of magnificent size and scope were already in place, impressive monuments, plazas, and stonework covered the land.
Terraced agricultural fields date back to B.C. times throughout Andean Peru
     After a prolonged period of cultural development, agricultural growth from existing terraced lands and irrigation canals allowed for a larger population and the tribe, which would become the Inca began to assert itself in the area. By 1438 A.D., a leader named Pachuti rose to power within the tribe’s counsels and developed the idea of Tawantinsuyu, what would eventually be called the Inca Empire. The name Pachakutiq in Quecha means “he who shakes the earth,” an obvious appellation he bestowed upon himself as he took his little hamlet of Cuzco and built it into an empire over the next 33 years, a fete that was possible only because of the lengthy and extremely disrupting civil war among the various tribes of Lamanites.
     By 1463, the Inca had a growing army, which was led by the Inca’s son, and they turned their attention to the north. At Pachacuti’s death in 1471, his son, Tupac Inca Yupanqui, became the Inca and began conquests to the north of those tribes who would not willingly join the kingdom, which was slowly growing into an empire.
     The Inca, in their rise to power, understood the need to intimidate their enemies and other tribes. They began claiming past peoples, victories, military achievements as their own, folding them into their pantheon of earlier “emperors” they created, giving them names and dates of rule, though several overlapped and some didn’t really fit in at all, but no one seemed to notice. This new Inca leader acquired the title Emperor, and proclaimed a glowing history of his forebearers and those of the Inca in general.   
     The Inca sent spies into other regions which they wanted to bring into their growing kingdom. The Inca offered presents and luxury goods such as high quality textiles, promising these regional groups they would be materially richer as subject rulers of his “Empire.” As the fame spread about this new “Inca” tribe, with their inflated past accomplishments and newly acquired line of hierarchal kings, most other groups and tribes accepted Inca rule as a fait accompoli and acquiesced peacefully.
The Inca used intimidation through shows of power, inhumane treatment of those they fought and executed, and sheer numbers as they spread their own propaganda through the land bringing most others into line without a single battle
     Children of another ruler’s family would be brought to Cuzco to be taught abut Inca administration systems, then return to rule their native lands. This allowed the Inca to indoctrinate the former ruler’s children into the Inca nobility and, with luck, marry their daughters into families at various corners of the expanding kingdom.
     The Inca used a variety of methods, from peaceful assimilation to intimidation to conquest in order to incorporate a large portion of western South America, centered on the Andean mountain ranges, into their Empire. Túpac Inca's son Huayna Capac added a small portion of land to the north in modern-day Ecuador and in parts of Peru. At its height, the Empire included Peru and Bolivia, most of what is now Ecuador, and a large portion of what is today Chile north of the Maule River. By the time the Spanish arrived, the Empire had extended into the Amazon Basin, into corners of Argentina and Colombia, creating an amalgamation of languages, cultures and peoples. The components were not all uniformly loyal, nor were the local cultures all fully integrated. But it was, nevertheless an Empire of great power.
The capture of Inca Atahualpa in 1533 that ended the Inca Empire, though rebellious parts survived for another forty years 
      By 1532 as Frances Pizarro loomed on the horizon, the Inca had existed for only 94 years, and the Empire for not quite fifty. Within a year, the Inca ruler would be dead, the Spanish would be in charge, and the Empire would be a thing of the past—though the Inca line would live on with rebellions from time to time, it would finally be conquered in 1572.
     During that 94 years, the Inca, which started out with around 40,000 population, massed a growing army of 200,000 warriors, and a professional cadre of generals and officers who had to earn their positions, had gained control of nearly all of western South America, controlling between 12 and 16 million people. A fete that never could have occurred had the Inca not already had such an infrastructure in place as buildings, palaces, irrigation, magnificent roads, and a weak opposition of fragmented tribes who, themselves, were just coming out of parts of this long, drawn-out civil war.
(See the next post, “The Rise of the Inca State and Empire – Part III,” for more on the period of time between the Inca rise to power and the coming of the Spanish, and how little chance there was for the Inca to do much other than build up their Empire rather than build magnificent buildings roads and highways that now cover the land)