Saturday, November 28, 2020

The Populace of Northwest Peruvian Coastal Sites

Moche (mow-chee) “An imported package of spun silk,” also known as the Mochica, were situated in the Valley of Moche, or Valley of Santa Catalina, which is a large area of the La Libertad Region in northern Peru surrounding the Moche River. It has been farmed since the pre-Columbian era and currently contains rural and urban settlements along the northern cost and valleys of ancient Peru.

Trujillo is the most important city of the valley, and has its beginning in BC times, being the home of the Cupisnique, the Moche and Chimu cultures. The Moche were known for their ceramics that were made from molds, leaving behind many duplicate pieces, showing the appearance of the Moche people.

Portrait Vessels with realistic faces of the Moche people

 

Moche portrait vessels are ceramic vessels featuring highly individualized and naturalistic representations of human faces that are unique to the Moche culture of Peru. These portrait vessels are some of the few realistic portrayals of humans found in the Pre-Columbian Americas.

The Moche were known for their gold work and monumental constructions (huacas). Their culture was sophisticated; and their artifacts fully express their lives, including scenes of hunting, fishing, fighting, sacrifice, and elaborate ceremonies.

In addition, they had knowledge about hydraulic engineering, They were the best ceramist in the entire territory, represented figures like priest, warriors, and animals, made also what the Archaeologist called Huaco retratos, ceramic made with such a realistic style that seeing the Moche molds gives an in-depth viewing of the people of that period.

The Moche Empire ran along the Chicama River valley and was a civilization that rivaled the Incas, the Mayans and the Aztecs as one of the most sophisticated cultures in the New World. They occupied over 250 miles of desert coast line and up to 50 miles inland. The desert here is utterly barren with rocky brown hills that line the horizon, and huge, pale dunes move about, with swirling patterns of sand hovering in the air. As one moved south and into Peru, the coastal geography begins to make sudden changes. Cresting ridges one drops down into  blindingly green river valleys, studded with villages and sown with lush, irrigated fields of sugarcane, cotton and alfalfa. Then, just over another ridge, one drops back down into a lifeless desert.

The rivers that flow down from the Andes to the coast, as well as the excavated archaeological sites

 

Though this Peruvian coast receives little annual moisture beyond a dirty winter fog, more than 40 rivers roar out of the Andean highlands with enough force to cross the desert and reach the sea. Each of these river valleys creates its own riparian oasis, and thanks to the rich highland silt contained in the waters agriculture thrives here and anciently supported towns and cities all along the Peruvian coast. Unlike most rainless areas of the world, today the Peruvian desert is home to a large population, including four of the nation's five largest cities.

This area is a series of long stretches of the Peruvian coast south of the Sechura Desert, and is a narrow, nameless strip that separates the Andes and the Pacific for more than 1,500 miles before merging with Chile's Atacama Desert in the south beyond Lake Titicaca.

The Moche being agriculture-based had a working knowledge of hydraulic engineering, taking advantage of the rivers for the diversion of water to supply their crops for the irrigation of their lands. In fact, they invested heavily in the construction of a network of irrigation canals for this river water to supply the crops. The rivers flowed from the Andes toward the coast, providing the normal hot and dry area with moisture, and exceptional plant and crop growth because of this irrigation.

In addition, gold backflaps were an important part of the royal costumes of the Moche elite and were worn suspended from the waist, covering the backside. Backflaps have been found by archaeologists in the tombs of several Warrior-Priests, who wore them as armor during hand-to-hand combat and as a symbol of power during rituals.

Geography shaped the development of the Moche civilization, in part because they were on a thin strip of land between the coast and the Andes mountains which was a desert causing them to create lengthy and frequent irrigation channels to water their crops in order to feed themselves. It should also be noted that they never expanded very far, keeping to the coastal desert.

Another reason is that the tall mountains helped secure the Moche along the coastal plain, serving as a natural form of defense. They protected the Moche from invading armies, who could not move quickly or efficiently across narrow mountain passes. On the other hand, the demise of the Moche are unknown, but expert believe the civilization may have succumbed to earthquakes.

This area is one of Peru's richest archaeological regions, from the Moche Valley to the Túcume Valley, north of Chiclayo, these cultures dominated the area with their power and wealth.

One of the 50 identified pyramids uncovered in the Batán Grande area

 

Twenty-five miles north of Chiclayo in a dry, equatorial forest full of mesquite, is located Batán Grande, which has monumental adobe pyramids that rise majestically over farmlands. The site occupies an area of some 35 square miles in the small coastal valley of La Leche in North Peru, is known as a mecca of grave looting that has yielded a considerable quantity of gold funerary artifacts. These destructive clandestine operations have not only prevented serious fieldwork but also effectively obscured the complexity and significance of archaeological remains that include nearly 50 extensive cemeteries and massive adobe constructions that together span some 2,500 years.

Home of the Lambayeque Culture, a division of the Sican, Batán Grande was ostentatiously rich and luxuriously lavish, producing gold and silver artifacts by the thousands and packing them into the tombs of their rulers. As the center and dominant part of this civilization, its pyramids towered ninety feet over broad plazas in which the elite gathered for feasts and ceremonies. They were buried here with gold and silver treasures, such as precious metals and ceramic artefacts of great artistic merit, such as ceremonial knifes and golden funeral masks, along with the human remains, which were buried with their retinues of attendants in a network of tombs beneath the pyramids.

Discoveries over the last 20 years have revealed incredible treasures, such as the Lord of Sipan's tomb and Batán Grande, that confirm the historical importance and development of these ancient people. Often described as South America's Egypt, this region was the cradle of the Moche, Sicán, and Chimú kingdoms, highly sophisticated pre-Columbian civilizations that flourished in the heart of one of the world's most desolate and arid strips of land.

Besides the Lord of Sipán's Tomb, the area is home to many spectacular structures, including Túcume or the Valley of the Pyramids, Huaca del sol de la Luna (Temples of the Sun and the Moon), and Chan Chan, the world's largest adobe city and the biggest adobe city in the world.


Friday, November 27, 2020

The Enigmatic Tiahuanaco
- Part II

The land controlled by the Tiwanaku Cuture

 

H ugh Boero Rojo's discovery of buildings beneath Lake Titicaca, though providing proof of such previously questionable beliefs, may on the other hand prove to cause more problems than it solves. If, over the past two or three thousand years Lake Titicaca has slowly receded, as all scientists agree, then the existence of stone roads, temples, walls, and stairways, still being underwater needs to be explained.

The only answer, of course, is that they were built before the lake was created. This means that we need to re-examine the massive ruins—only 10% of which has been excavated to-date.

In addition, we have to recognize that the only way dirt can cover this ancient civilization to a depth of at least 6 feet, is the accumulation of water—a very large amount of water to have inundated the entire 400-acre city. Naturally, when this water receded it left the silt covering all evidence of an advanced civilization, leaving only the largest statues and monoliths exposed.

This, then, leads us to understand that the massive city was built before the lake was created, and not as a port on its present shore.

Obviously, these sunken buildings and the ruins at Tiwanaku , were along the seacoast at one time and rose up at the time the mountains rose to great heights. Thus, Tiwanaku was a seaport at one time, though presently, the nearest body of water is Lake Titicaca. There are many theories on how this came to be, but the configuration of changes in the land during the crucifixion is not one of them. This is because scientists, especially geologists, have a pattern of development which takes millions of years to make noticeable changes—they have no grasp of the Lord doing it in three hours (3 Nephi 8:19).

Yet, on the rock cliffs near the piers and warfs of the port (Tiwanaku) area of the ruins are yellow-white calcareous deposits forming long, straight lines indicating pre-historic water levels. These ancient shorelines are strangely tilted, although once they must have been level. The surrounding area is covered with millions of fossilized sea-shells. It appears, from the tilting of the ancient shoreline striations and the abundant presence of fossilized oceanic flora and fauna, that a tremendous uplift of land has taken place sometime in the ancient past.

Huge stones, some weighing one to two hundred tons toppled and scattered about by some tremendous force

 

Oceanic creatures live to this day in abundance in the salty waters of the lake, indicating that it was once a part of the ocean, although it is now over 2 miles above sea-level. What seems to be the original seashore is much higher in one place than in another. The port of Tiwanaku, called Puma Punku or "Door of the Puma," is an area filled with enormous stone blocks scattered hither and yon like matchsticks, and weighing between 100 and 150 tons!

One block still in place weighs an estimated 440 tons! One wonders, how were these blocks quarried; also how did the builders handle such huge blocks so skillfully?

This leads to the understanding, as scientists theorize that the area of Lake Titicaca was at one time at sea level, because of the profusion of artifacts in the somewhat shallow waters off the shores and islands of the lake, and also of fossilized marine life which can be found in the region.

The area then lifted with the Andean upheaval and a basin was created which filled in to form the lake. No one has suggested the marine life might have been brought to the altiplano by sea waters which were at flood stage.

The ark weathering the storm and deluge

 

Peruvian legends clearly relate a story of world-wide flood in the distant past. There is ample physical evidence of a universal inundation, with the world-wide deluge described in more than a hundred flood-myths. Along with Noah's flood were the Babylonian Utnapischtim of the Gilgamesh epic, the Sumerian Ziusudra, the Persian Jima, the Indian Manu, the Maya Coxcox, the Colombian Bochica, the Algonkin's Nanabozu, the Crows' Coyote, the Greek Deukalion and Pyrrha, the Chinese Noah Kuen, and the Polynesian Tangaloa. It is evident there was a world-wide deluge.

Global doomsdays are conspicuous in the Hopi Indian legends, the Finnish Kalevala epic, the Mayan Chilam Balam and Popol Vuh, and in the Aztec calendar, the last of which predicts that our present civilization will be destroyed by "nahuatl Olin" or "earth movement," that is, devastation by earthquake.

Due to Aztec cyclic theory this will become the fifth doomsday after the "death of the Jaguars," "the death of the Tempests," "the death of the Great Fire" (vulcanism), and the 'Great Deluge.'

If a flourishing advanced civilization existed on the Peruvian altiplano many thousands of years ago and was reached by the flood waters, many problems would be solved, such as the existence of Twianaku’s ruins under 6 feet of earth at an elevation of 13,300 feet. Thus, the presence of stone structures still under the lake's waters and the existence of marine life at an impossible altitude would also make sense.

There are agricultural terracing on the sides and very tops of the steep peaks, which appear to be the oldest - and now unused-portions of the terracing. As one looks down the mountains more and more terraces of more recent origin are seen. As Boero Rojo stated, "The discovery of Aymara structures under the waters of Lake Titicaca could pose entirely new theses on the disappearance of an entire civilization, which, for some unknown reason, became submerged.

As Professor Schindler-Bellamy, who created the world famous Glacial-Cosmogony theory in the1930's—has worked dozens of years in the Tiwanaku area and has written books on the subject, has stated, “The Tiahuanacans could have been victims of world-wide flood, their civilization all but wiped out when their homes and structures were covered with sea water.” He went on to say: “Because of the basin-like geography of the area the flood waters that became Lake Titicaca could not run off and have only gradually evaporated over the centuries.”

Top: Lake Titicaca around Puno with the man-made islands of reeds; Bottom: Change in Lake level, which has receded 12 miles

 

However, there is another answer to this scenario, and that is the rising of the area now known as Lake Titicaca, that was driven upward from sea level when the mountains “whose height is great,” rose during the crucifixion of which Samuel the Lamanite prophesied (Helaman 14:23). During this changing of the topography, both above and beneath the earth (Helaman 14:22), the area of the present lake, then a portion of the East Sea, was raised along with the mountains on which it rested. The ocean, caught within the mountains, went upward as the mountains rose to their present height. A portion of the settlements along the shore were raised also as the trapped sea buried the buildings beneath the waters.

After all this settled, those who survived found themselves at extremely high altitudes where they eeked out a living in their new circumstances, using the knowledge they knew before and had gained as a people over hundreds and thousands of years. The most tantalizing fact of all is that the Tiwanaku culture has no roots in that area. It did not grow there from humbler beginnings, nor is any other place of origin known. It seems to have appeared practically full blown suddenly.

To understand this point, that has puzzled the scientists, is that the people arrived in the land from elsewhere who were already advanced and developed from that point. This opens the door for Lehi and his party landing in the area and bringing with them the knowledge of a thousand years of experience and growth. In addition, we find that Tiahuanaco apparently remained for only a very short period at its pinnacle of perfection and then perished suddenly, perhaps through the cataclysmic happenings connected with the breakdown of the former "moon." Or, perhaps, being annihilated by the Lamanites.

We have at present no scientific means of determining when Tiwanaku rose to supreme height, or when its culture was obliterated. As with many other sacred sites on the planet it remains an enigma allowing researchers to speculate on its origins and purpose—then paralleling their conclusions with other ancient civilizations. They struggle to conclude what tremendous forces tumbled and scattered these gigantic stones so easily about the site?

Carving of the formation into the rock which heated metal was poured into to strap the blocks together

 

Many of the blocks, some of them weighing upwards of 200 tons, are held together by large copper clamps shaped like an I, rather than enter-locking shapes as at Sacsahuaman or at Cuzco. Others were held together by silver rivets. The system used here is reminiscent of that used in the Egyptian ruins on Elephantine Island on the Nile. Most researchers believe that the metal was actually poured into shaped-slots carved into the rock.

Some of the docks and piers in this area are so large that hundreds of ships could dock comfortably - and nothing oceanic near these docks except an ancient coastline made of chalky fossils. Lake Titicaca, languishing miles away, is nearly 100 feet lower than the ruined docks. What tremendous geological upheaval has occurred in the last thousand years that could have tumbled these huge stones while raising the entire altiplano region 2 miles into the sky? None that anyone knows about.

Too bad they have not read the Book of Mormon and the detailed occurrences in this land as outlined in 3 Nephi 8 and 9, which answers all these questions and why Lake Titicaca sits at 12,600 feet and that it once rested along the Sea East.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

The Enigmatic Tiahuanaco
- Part I

Located near the southern shores of Lake Titicaca at an altitude of 12,630 feet on the high plateau of the Altiplano in southwestern Bolivia, the pre-Columbian archaeological site called Tiwanaku (Tiahuanaco) is one of the largest and oldest sites in South America. Situated about fifteen miles south of Lake Titicaca lie the remains of Tiwanaku and Puma Punco (“Door of the Puma”), the site of a technologically advanced culture considered by some archaeologists to be the oldest and most important ruins in the

Americas, if not the world. Although some uninformed scholars have attributed the buildings of Tiwanaku to the Incas, it has now been established that the city was already in ruins when the first Incas came upon the scene.

Stonework at Tiwanaku

 

One of the most significant Andean civilizations, Tiwanaku influence extended into present-day Peru and Chile. Dominating the ruins are the Akapana pyramid and a semi-subterranean temple with carved images of human heads. Nearby Kalasasaya is an open temple with stone monoliths and the huge Gate of the Sun arch. The Museo del Sitio de Tiwanaku displays artifacts excavated from the site.

In 1540 the Spanish conquistador and chronicler of Peru, Pedro Cieza de León, author of the four-volume Crónicas del Perú, visited the area and his description of the statues and monoliths compares very closely to what we see today. The site is 800 feet above the present level of Lake Titicaca, and most archaeologists agree that in the distant past Tiahuanaco was a flourishing port at the edge of the sea or lake, which means that the water has receded almost 12 miles and has dropped about 800 feet since then.

The lake has been shrinking over the years, mainly due to evaporation, since no rivers flow from it. Its present fauna (including a species of sea horse), a nearby salt-water lake, and the angle of an ancient shore-line have led scientists to consider that the lake may have once been attached to the sea, following which it was raised to its present elevation.

The Lake today has as salinity level of 5.5 parts per 1,000 compared to other lakes that have a zero to 0.5 parts per thousand. As an example, each of the Great Lakes is between 0.05 to 0.063, and Earth’s ocean has an average of 3.5 parts per thousand.

The Tiwanaku were unique in its sculpture style of stone construction, with mostly square heads for its statuary, and with a helmet-style covering, including square eyes and a rectangular mouth.

The Gate of the Sun, with images on the Gateway can be recognized in other areas and associated with contemporaneous or earlier civilizations

 

The stone works at the ruins consist of such structures as the Gate of the Sun, a 15-ton monolithic portal carved from a single block of Andesite granite weighing 15 tons, now broken right down the center. It now stands in the northwest corner of the Kalasasaya, although it was found fallen and completely covered in mud elsewhere on the site.

There are also the stone steps of the Kalasasaya, each of which is a rectangular block of stone about 30 feet wide, with the so-called giant idols about 23 feet tall, and are representatives of unusual looking beings with typical Tiwanaku head and trace. There are also enormous monolithic stone blocks, many of which appear to have been cast rather than carved.

Puma Puncu, which is about one mile distant from the principal part of the Tiwanaku ruins, has gigantic stones that are bluish-gray in color and appear to have been somehow machined, with a metallic ring when tapped by a rock. A reddish rust or oxidation covers many of the enormous stones, which probably have not been moved since they fell thousands of years ago.

On the other hand, Archaeologists speculate that the stones were dressed, but never erected, in some way the final construction for which they were intended was interrupted. However, it is just as reasonable to think that the work was completed and then knocked down by some catastrophe, such as the volcanic eruption of the Andes mountain chain.

It is interesting to observe the archaeological excavation work, which is under way at the site. Some remains are found six feet below the surface, yet the mountain ranges which surround the area are not high enough to permit sufficient runoff of water or wind erosion to have covered the ruins to that depth.

Top: The underwater filming of stone steps; Bottom: The long Wall

 

At the same time, legends have persisted over the centuries that stone structures lie beneath the surface of Lake Titicaca, much the same as can be found on the lake's shore. In fact, the Indians of that region have recounted this tradition for years, but there has never been confirmation of such until recently. The French underwater explorer, Jacques Cousteau and his crew and equipment there to explore the lake and search for evidence of the claimed underwater construction.

Although severely hampered in their activities by the extreme altitude, the divers spent many days searching the lake bottom, in the vicinity of the islands of the Sun and Moon, but found nothing man-made. Cousteau concluded the legends were a myth.

However, in November 1980, the well-known Bolivian author and scholar of pre-Columbian cultures, Hugo Boero Rojo, announced the finding of archaeological ruins beneath Lake Titicaca about 15 to 20 meters below the surface off the coast of Puerto Acosta, a Bolivian port village near the Peruvian frontier on the northeast edge of the lake (Hugo Boero Rojo, Discovering Tiwanaku, Los Amigos del Libro Publishers, University of Virginia, May 22, 2008).

Rojo and two Puerto Rican cinematographers, Ivan and Alex Irrizarry, were able to locate the ruins after extensive exploration of the lake bottom in the area, as they were involved in filming a documentary on the nearby Indians. Their spectacular discovery of the ruins of a mysterious underwater temple, thought to be at least 1500 years old, is believed to have been built by the Tiwanaku culture. The underwater structure is about 656 feet by 164 feet, more than twice the size of a football field. More than 200 dives were made in order to record the ruins on film, that also uncovered a terrace for crops, a long road, and a 2625-foot-long wall under the surface. 10,000 priceless artifacts were also discovered at the bottom of the abyss, including a variety of ceramics, metal objects, cooking utensils, and human and animal remains, much of it dated to earlier than 300 AD (Hugo Boero rojo, Boliiva Magica, Editorial Vertiente Publishers, La Paz, 1993).

Regarding the discovery, Rojo stated, "We can now say that the existence of pre-Columbian constructions under the waters of Lake Titicaca is no longer a mere supposition or science-fiction, but a real fact. The remnants found show the existence of old civilizations that greatly antecede the Spanish colonization. We have found temples built of huge blocks of stone, with stone roads leading to unknown places and flights of steps whose bases were lost in the depths of the lake amid a thick vegetation of algae."

Polish-born Bolivian archaeologist Arturo Posnansky has concluded that the Tiwanku culture began in the region at about 1600 BC and flourished until at least 1200 AD. His disciple, Professor Hans Schindler-Bellamy, of Vienna believed Tiahuanaco to have reached back 12,000 years before the present era, although a more conservative Peruvian archaeologist (Hans Schindler Bellamy, The Calendar of Tiahuanaco, Faber and Faber Publishers, London UK, 1956).

What happened to the advanced ancient culture, however, has not yet been determined.

(See the next post, “The Enigmatic Tiahuanaco- Part II,” for answers to this question and many others about Tiwanaku)

 


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Did the Jaredites Fish off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland?

It is interesting that in both the Heartland and Great Lakes theories of North America, there is little or no mention of the Jaredite lands—only that they were vaguely to the north. In the Great Lakes Theory, they were in Canada, but no detail of any kind are shown. In fact, with both the Heartland and Great Lake theories, there is no Land of Many Waters on their maps, though they all have the hill Cumorah in Western New York, but nothing else about the Jaredite lands. Nor do they show the location of the capital city of Moron, or how enclosed barges made it to Canada, nor where they landed.  

It might also be interesting to know that these theorists of the Heartland and Great Lakes models locate, at most, a Land of Desolation, some claiming that the Land Northward had only the Land of Desolation in it; however, the scriptural record tells us: “Now the land of Moron, where the king dwelt, was near the land which is called Desolation by the Nephites (Ether 7:6, emphasis added). This tells us there was at least one other land, and probably more in the Land Northward—certainly there was a Land of Many Waters and a Land of Cumorah (Mormon 6:4).

The Grand Banks are a series of underwater plateaus southeast of the island of Newfoundland on the North American continental shelf

 

Heartland theorist Theodore Brandley stated in 2015 that in his “Journey of the Jaredites” that they landed in what is now New Jersey. Vernal Holly claims the Jaredites were in lower Ontario just north of Lake Ontario.

Other theorists suggest the possibility that the Jaredites might have fished off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, believing the barges reached the St. Lawrence River. This is based on some claims of evidence that the Grand Banks Newfoundland had evidence of fishing long before any Europeans were in the area.

Officially, this area was “discovered” by the Norsemen in 1001 AD, when a flotilla of Viking ships set sail from Greenland southwestward they reached Labrador, which they called Helluland (“Land of Rocks”), they proceeded for two days more and reached the west coast of Newfoundland, a shore with sandy soil covered with pines and birches where they saw many animals. This was Newfoundland which they named Markland (“Country of Forests”).

They continued down the coast, which they traced to the west, and landed in a region with rich vegetation where maize and wild vines grew in abundance and the fresh water swarmed with salmon. This country, which they called Vinland (“Lands of the Vine”), which was the coast of Massachusetts. They landed on Cape Cod, probably where Boston sits today.

1001 AD Viking settlement in L’Anse aux Meadows on the northernmost tip of the Great Northern Peninsula on the island of Newfoundland in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador

 

The Vikings maintained colonies in the regions which are today Labrador, Nova Scotia and Massachusetts until the 12th century—the settlements were probably to exploit natural resources such as furs and in particular lumber, which was in short supply in Greenland. Historians say it is unclear why the short-term settlements did not become permanent, though it was in part because of hostile relations with the indigenous peoples, referred to as Skraelings (Eskimos of Greenland and Vinland) by the Norse. Nevertheless, it appears that sporadic voyages to Markland (Newfoundland) for forages, timber, and trade with the locals could have lasted as long as 400 years. The point is, before Columbus and the later Spanish and Europeans, the Americas were not settled by any permanent emigrant group of which we know.

There is, of course, evidence, though scant, of these events, and of the Vikings in the area of the Grand Banks off Newfoundland. This area is one of the world's richest fishing grounds—the shallow waters mix with both cold water of the Labrador current and warm water from the Gulf Stream, that make an ideal breeding ground for the nutrients that feed the fish, supporting Atlantic cod, Swordfish, Haddock and Capelin, as well as shellfish, seabirds and sea mammals.

These currents run down the St. Lawrence from Lake Ontario to the St. Lawrence Gulf and join with the Labrador Current flowing southeast through the Davis Strait and into the Labrador Sea and finally into the North Atlantic Ocean going south along the coast of New Brunswick and Main—in the opposite direction from win-driven ships or barges heading northward along these coasts. All of this would work against any wind-driven ship, or the barges built by the Jaredites reaching these Banks.

Ocean Currents that Jaredites would have had to go against to reach the area of Newfoundland

 

The Banks, which are located on the southern tip or "toe" of the Burin Peninsula (also known as "the boot"), extend for 350 miles north to south and for 420 miles east to west, are the result of extensive glaciation that took place during the last glacial maximum. When the majority of the ice had melted, leaving the Grand Banks exposed as several islands, which extended for several hundred miles. It is believed that rising sea-levels submerged these, which is what we see today. This entire area is relatively shallow, ranging from 50 to 300 feet in depth, with an average of 180 feet.

The Grand Banks consist of a number of separate banks, chief of which are Grand, Green, and St. Pierre; and sometimes considered to include the submarine plateaus that extend southwestward to Georges Bank, east-southeast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  The cold Labrador Current mixes with the warm waters of the Gulf Stream in the vicinity of the Banks, often causing extreme foggy conditions.

The mixing of these waters and the shape of the ocean bottom lifts nutrients to the surface, which creates one of the richest fishing grounds in the world. It certainly would have provided an excellent area in which to fish at the time of the Jaredites, however, placing them that far north is very unlikely.

While no archaeological evidence for a European presence near the Grand Banks survives from the period between the short-lived Greenland Norse settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows in 1000 AD and John Cabot’s transatlantic crossing in 1497, some evidence suggests that voyagers from Portugal in the Basque Region and England proceeded Cabot.

In the 15th century some texts refer to a land called Bacalao (“Land of codfish”), which is possibly Newfoundland. Within a few years of Cabot's voyage the existence of fishing grounds on the Grand Banks became generally known in Europe. Ships from France and Portugal pioneered fishing there, followed by vessels from Spain, while ships from England were scarce in the early years (Kirsten Seaver, Maps, Myths, and Men: The Story of the Vinland Map, Stanford University Press, 2004, pp75-86).


The Jaredites landed along the shore of the Land of Promise and went upon the land and settled, tilling the earth (Ether 6:12-13). At some point they moved up into the highlands or mountains and built a city named Moron, and when Corihor, son of Kib, rebelled against his father and dwelt in the Land of Nehor where he raised an army, and “he came up unto the land of Moron, where the king dwelt” (Ether 7:5, emphasis added). Later, when “the Lord warned Omer to depart out of the land, and he traveled many days, and came over and passed by the hill of Shim, and came over by the place where the Nephites were destroyed, and from thence eastward, and came to a place which was called Ablom, by the seashore” (Ether 9:3,emphasis added).

Thus, we see that the Jaredites were to the north of the Narrow Neck of Land, and Many days travel from Moron to reach the Hill Cumorah, which itself was to the north of the narrow neck and some distance to the west of the seashore.

Obviously, the configuration here stated is that the Hill Cumorah was to the north, for Omer turned east from the Hill Cumorah. You cannot turn east when traveling east from the beginning (which eliminates both Mesoamerican and North American theories) and you cannot turn east when going west except to double back on your westward route. You could turn east when going south, but that would place the Hill Cumorah across into the Land Southward.

In addition, in the North America theory, traveling from the Narrow Neck of Land east to the Hill Cumorah is 100 miles. However, from there to Newfoundland is 725 miles—hardly a workable arrangement according to the scriptural record. Nor is it better to travel east to the sea from the Hill Cumorah, a distance of 370 miles. In Meldrum’s Heartland, he has The Hill Cumorah 865 miles to the east of Nauvoo, Illinois, and another 370 miles eastward to the sea. His East Sea is to the north of the Hill Cumorah.

Neither the North American theories (Heartland or Great Lakes) nor the Mesoamerican theory matches the simple description of the scriptural record and should be disqualified on the basis of this alone.


Monday, November 23, 2020

Were There Gadianton Robbers in the Land of Zarahemla?

From time to time we receive questions that require more space to answer than that in our regular Q and A articles. Such is a question here:

Comment #3: “The Book of Mormon states that the Gadianton robbers lived in the mountains but one verse in particular disproves what you are trying to say as it states that the Mountains occupied by the Gadianton robbers were not part of the Nephite lands (3Ne 1:27 3Ne 2:17 3Ne 3:20 3Ne4:1)” D.M.

Response: First, your initial reference in 3 Nephi 1:27 actually states: “And it came to pass that the ninety and third year did also pass away in peace, save it were for the Gadianton Robbers, who dwelt upon the mountains, who did infest the land; for so strong were their holds and their secret places that the people could not overpower them; therefore they did commit many murders, and did do much slaughter among the people” (3 Nephi 1:27).

Many members and theorists alike, often do not have an accurate understanding of the Land of Promise. Keep in mind that in the Land Southward, among that land north of the narrow strip of wilderness, which we sometimes incorrectly call the Land of Zarahemla as all inclusive—in fact, on the Church Website, it states of this: “[The] Land of Zarahemla, [is a] region around [the] city of Zarahemla; also[an] area from [the] southern wilderness to [the] land Bountiful on [the] north” (Church of Jesus Christ.org). In addition, there are other lands, such as Manti, Morianton, Lehi, Moroni, Jershon, etc. One of those is the Land of Gideon, the Valley of Gideon and the City of Gideon, all east of the Sidon River and not in the Land of Zarahemla proper.

Salt Lake County has at least 14 cities whose boundaries are beyond the actual city limits

 

As an example, the City of Salt Lake is in Salt Lake County, but also in that county is West Valley City, West Jordan, Sandy, Draper, Alta, Murry, Herriman, etc. Gideon is another land and separate from the Land of Zarahemla, though part of the greater Land of Zarahemla (in today’s nomenclature, it would be Draper is in Salt Lake County, or Provo is in Utah County).

The topography of the Land of Zarahemla is flat in the west along the seashore, where the Mulekites landed and the city of Zarahemla is located, however, as you go inland, there are mountains—today, some of these are very tall at 18,000 to 20,000-feet. In the east, where the Gadianton Robbers were located, it was very mountainous, with numerous scriptural references about mountains are located regarding the Robbers’ hideouts.

The city of Gideon is in a valley, and the valley, like all valleys (a low area of land between hills or mountains), is surrounded or nearly surrounded to some extent, by mountains. In addition, 3 Nephi 2:17, states: “And it came to pass in the commencement of the fourteenth year, the war between the robbers and the people of Nephi did continue and did become exceedingly sore; nevertheless, the people of Nephi did gain some advantage of the robbers, insomuch that they did drive them back out of their lands into the mountains and into their secret places.

Zarahemla County included numerous other lands. The Yellow Circle represents the land of Zarahemla around the city [map for demonstration purposes only]

 

Keep in mind that within the land we usually call Nephite Lands because they are north of the narrow strip of wilderness and the Lamanite controlled lands, were mountainous regions some of which were the secret hideouts of the Gadianton Robbers, and while this area was not in the occupied area of the Nephites, it was still within the Land of Zarahemla (county) probably among some of the lands mentioned above that were in the east. In another reference, it states: “Now the people said unto Gidgiddoni: Pray unto the Lord, and let us go up upon the mountains and into the wilderness, that we may fall upon the robbers and destroy them in their own lands” (3 Nephi 3:20).

Again, the Gaddianton Robbers controlled an area in the mountains in the Land of Zarahemla (county) which Mormon is here saying “in their lands,” meaning the lands the Gaddianton Robbers controlled. It is in no way saying this was a separate land, not part of the overall Land of Zarahemla (county), hidden away somewhere. After all, the Nephites not only knew the mountains where the Robbers were, but were familiar with these mountains.

“In the latter end of the eighteenth year those armies of robbers had prepared for battle, and began to come down and to sally forth from the hills, and out of the mountains, and the wilderness, and their strongholds, and their secret places, and began to take possession of the lands, both which were in the land south and which were in the land north, and began to take possession of all the lands which had been deserted by the Nephites, and the cities which had been left desolate” (3 Nephi 4:1).

The Robbers probably made use of caves as secret places

 

Again, part of the Land of Zarahemla (county), i.e., that land north of the narrow strip of wilderness controlled overall by the Nephites, the Gaddianton Robbers held a portion of the mountainous area because of their strength and were hard to root out by the Nephite armies because their hideout locations, evidently caves or hidden valleys, were secret.

“And they did commit murder and plunder; and then they would retreat back into the mountains, and into the wilderness and secret places, hiding themselves that they could not be discovered, receiving daily an addition to their numbers, inasmuch as there were dissenters that went forth unto them” (Helaman 11:25).

Obviously, their lands were not distant, and also were not exposed areas where people lived openly. The Robbers lived in such a manner as to escape detection by the people among who they lived.

“In the forty and ninth year of the reign of the judges, there was continual peace established in the land, all save it were the secret combinations which Gadianton the robber had established in the more settled parts of the land, which at that time were not known unto those who were at the head of government; therefore, they were not destroyed out of the land” (Helaman 3:23, emphasis added).

There was also a land between Zarahemla and Bountiful, though nothing is mentioned about it other than it existed. “And the land which was appointed was the land of Zarahemla, and the land which was between the land Zarahemla and the land Bountiful, yea, to the line which was between the land Bountiful and the land Desolation” (3 Nephi 3:23, emphasis added).

Here is another passage regarding the existence of unnamed lands. That some of these would be mountainous is obvious:

“And in the fifty and seventh year they [Robbers] did come down against the Nephites to battle, and they did commence the work of death; yea, insomuch that in the fifty and eighth year of the reign of the judges they succeeded in obtaining possession of the land of Zarahemla; yea, and also all the lands, even unto the land which was near the land Bountiful” (Helaman 4:5).

Thus, the idea “it states the Mountains occupied by the Gadianton Robbers is not part of the Nephite lands,” is inaccurate.


Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Mulekites and Jaredites Did Not Sail West to the Americas – Part III

Continuing from the previous post with the reasons why the Mulekites did not sail west from the eastern Mediterranean coast and why sailing westward against winds was both a tricky and difficult.

Ultimately, however, the Phoenician network began to wane during the sixth century BC allowing other powers such as the Greeks, Romans, and Carthaginians, to replace them in the eastern Mediterranean as the dominant merchants. However, Carthage still controlled the Central and Western Mediterranean.

Carthage was built on a promontory with sea inlets to the north and the south. Built between Sicily and Tunisia, all ships crossing the sea had to pass between them, affording Carthage great power and influence

 

Carthage was the most important trading hub of the Ancient Mediterranean and one of the most affluent cities of the classical world. It developed from a Phoenician colony into the capital of a Punic empire which dominated large parts of the Southwest Mediterranean during the first millennium BC, including strict proprietary claims on the Central and Western Mediterranean and the lands and islands of their colonies.

Both the Phoenicians and later the Carthaginians were Thalassocracies, that is their dominion over the seas, or a seaborne empire that resulted from their trade, transferring ideas and culture from port to port where they traded. In this way, the Phoenicians became very popular all around the Mediterranean. As Phoenicia waned, the Carthaginians came to power, much like the Phoenicians had replaced the Minoans as the leading traders of the Mediterranean.

This path to power around and upon the inner sea was all based on trade—not exploration other than looking for new areas to settle and open up trade with the new colony. However, the Phoenicians did not belong to a single nationality or country—they called themselves by the city in which they lived, which is what allowed Carthage to develop independent of the Phoenicians, though they were originally of Phoenicia.

The Assyrian Empire. The Assyrians were a warrior society where fighting was a part of life, and most famous for two—their deadly chariots and iron weapons

 

Toward the end of the sixth century BC, during the period of harsh Assyrian rule the Phoenicians in the east fell completely under their control. At this time, the Assyrians dominated all of the Levant, Egypt, and Babylonia. In 572 BC, the empire began to collapse. The Phoenicians continued to trade, but encountered grueling competition from Greece over trade routes, and as the 4th century BC approached, the Phoenicians' two most important cities, Sidon and Tyre, were destroyed by the Persians and Alexander the Great.

The Phoenician situation began to change in the 6th century, with the previous colonies in the western Mediterranean all gradually brought under the control of Carthage. United as one maritime empire, Carthage’s pooled resources could be used for greater ventures.

The Carthage trade with Cornwall for the tin they then traded with the eastern peoples beyond the Mediterranean

 

One of these was the Carthaginian development of the tin trade with Cornwall in Britain—which they jealously kept secret; another venture was to go to war to protect the Carthaginian sphere of influence and monopoly on trade, which they did with the Greeks who tried to infringe upon the Carthaginean-controlled western Mediterranean.

The Greeks were halted in 535 BC after the battle of Alalia and the westward expansion of Greek colonies past Massalia was halted. A treaty was concluded with Rome in 509 BC which recognized separate spheres of influence and trade for Carthage and Rome (Polybius, The Histories, translation Mortimer Chambers, Twayne Publishers, New York, 1966, vol.3, pp22-23).

In 500 BC, the Greek, Hecataeus, knew of islands beyond Gaul where tin was obtained. Pytheas of Massalia travelled to Britain around 325 BC where he found a flourishing tin trade, according to the later report of his voyage. Posidonius referred to the tin trade with Britain around 90 BC, though Strabo about 18 AD did not list tin as one of Britain's exports. This is likely because Rome was obtaining its tin from Hispania at the time.

The Babylonians (red lines) controlled the land around Jerusalem as they lay siege to the city—little chance of escape to the west to obtain a ship. Black broken line indicates the only way out of the city, which is basically the course Lehi took

 

Thus, before the time Mulek left, at the time Mulek left, and following the time Mulek left, Jerusalem were controlled by the Assyrians, under siege by the Babylonians, and also under siege by the Romans, following when Mulek left Jerusalem. Specifically in 600 BC, Nebuchadnezzar controlled the entire Levant in the eastern Mediterranean, particularly along the coasts to block any Israelites from escaping his siege. The Egyptians, Palestinian coastal groups, and the Phoenicians, the latter having ships in the eastern Mediterranean, were under attack and control of the Babylonians and would not, and could not, have sailed away with someone of the Jerusalem royal family or any other Jews. The Babylonians simply would not have allowed it—this is particularly pointed out in their chasing Zedekiah halfway across Palestine to Jericho where he and his many sons were captured. Nebuchadnezzar’s horrific treatment of the king and his sons should suggest to anyone that he and the Babylonian army were dedicated to eliminating the entire line of Zedekiah. 

In addition, even when Mulek escaped from Jerusalem, he could not have gone north since that was directly into the heart of the Babylonian army; and he could not have gone south into Egypt since the Babylonians controlled those routes, blocking Egypt, their enemy to the south, from aiding those in Jerusalem. Mulek’s party could not have gone east, for that would have been into the Judaean Desert and hills, and the empty desert beyond.

Both Lehi, and later the Mulekites took the only course available to them to go south and west out of Jerusalem and along the Red Sea

 

Their only course was the inland Frankincense Trail that Lehi had earlier taken, going southeast and then down toward the Gulf of Aqaba, far to the east of Egypt. That would have taken them to the same location of Bountiful where Lehi went and from which both departed by ship.

Thus, Mulek and his party could not have sailed west through the Mediterranean as claimed by many theorists. 

As for the Jaredites, they were in barges that were moved by the waves (ocean currents) which do not make 90º turns, such as sailing south from the Med then turning west at the Canary Islands. Or, once reaching the Caribbean the barges would have hit the first island the current reached--certainly there was no way to steer around the island and no way to reach the Central American mainland. In addition, they were submerged from time to time by the ocean and then resurfaced, somewhat like a submarine. How this was done is an extensive part of the book Who Really Settled Mesoamerica? Which covers such things as the type of barges and how they were built, when they traveled, what was their course across the land and what were the waters they crossed and the sea in the desert where they were told not to stop.

They built barges to travel across the Great Deep, or the deep ocean, that would submerge from time to time and how this was done when the only resource available at the time was wood, is all covered in the above book. 

The ocean current through the Sicily Channel between Carthage and Sicily flows from west to east--causing the Jaredite barges to move against the current,opposite of the scriptural record


It should be kept in mind that there are no direct currents from the east coast (the Levant) to the Straits of Gibraltar to have moved barges driven by waves. There are numerous circular currents in this Sea, and specifically in the narrow passage known as the Sicily Channel, the sea moves from west to east--against the barges and ships trying to reach Gibraltar. While ships could have  manuevered this channel with expert seamanship, the barges could not have done so. 

Thus, we see that neither the Mulekites, nor the Jaredites before them, could have gone west across the Mediterranean and then the Atlantic Ocean to reach Mesoamerica or North America.