Thursday, March 23, 2017

Understanding Laman and Lemuel and Building the Ship – Part I

Nephi’s comment is quite poignant when he wrote: “And when my brethren saw that I was about to build a ship, they began to murmur against me, saying: Our brother is a fool, for he thinketh that he can build a ship; yea, and he also thinketh that he can cross these great waters. And thus my brethren did complain against me, and were desirous that they might not labor, for they did not believe that I could build a ship; neither would they believe that I was instructed of the Lord” (1 Nephi 17:17-18).
They said, in effect: “There is no way our younger brother can build a ship! Who does he think he is? And claiming God told him  how to do it! What hutspâ!”
    If you placed yourself in Laman and Lemuel’s position, having spent their entire lifetime of 25 to 30 years living on land and never even been to the seashore, and likely never even saw a small sailing vessel until their journey down along the Red Sea, you can understand a little about their trepidation of working on the building of a ship they knew nothing about and knowing they were going to have to sail out into that vast watery ocean before them their father called “Many Waters.” How on earth, they must have thought, could tons of wood float? They also must have thought they were going to die at the end of their labor by getting on board a hunk of wood tonnage that they could not possibly think Nephi could construct that would support them crossing that sea.
    To us, while we may not understand the principles, we can see a hundred thousand tons of steel floating in a modern aircraft carrier and know it can be done. But to Laman and Lemuel, the vast size of Nephi’s ship as it took shape must have been extremely daunting. These were simple men, who spent their time in the fields of their father’s farm outside Jerusalem, planting, growing, harvesting, and doing minor repairs. Building a ship large enough to carry both families and their households across the great seas would have indeed tried the spirits of the bravest of men.
    While one does not have to be a marine scientist or engineer to understand the scriptural record of Nephi building his ship, it might help in understanding the task that was before them, for ship design and construction would have been as foreign to these individuals as it would be to most of us today—even more for they did not grow up knowing about large ships crossing the seas. To Laman and Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael, this had never before taken place.
    First of all, those of us who have been in modern sailing vessels with smooth, one-piece fiberglass bodies that slip through the water with east, our appreciation of building one’s own ship with rudimentary tools and absolutely no knowledge would have seemed beyond the pale.
First of all, how was the ship to be designed? What materials would be required and how were they to be shaped and formed? All of them would have been familiar enough with simple building to know that working with wood requires patience and knowledge, expertise and experience. Nephi and the others had none of this other than in the simplest of workings on the farm.
They probably would not have known of the force waves exert on construction in the deep sea, but might have sensed it. An ocean to those who have never grown up around one can seem both menacing and terrifying. Having grown up in Southern California along the seashore, and having numerous family and friends come to town to visit from the Midwest, it was always interesting to see how both impressive and overwhelming the ocean first appeared to them—nor did many want to even go wading in it.
    While Nephi and his brothers might not have known or understood that waves create buoyancy stresses on the structure of a ship’s hull, or that the weight of breaking waves on the fabric of the ship and create damage over time on both the hull and structure as well as the rigging.
    Of course, the Lord did, and it was to be his design and construction methods that Nephi followed. The young man was likely taught in the process that the force of the wind pushes ships in the direction the wind is blowing, literally pushing the vessel forward, thus he stated:"We were driven forth before the wind" (1 Nephi 18:8,9). Ships with large windage suffer most—that is, blowing wind produces a force on the vessel’ structure, called windage, and the area and shape of the ship make it susceptible to friction on those parts of a boat that are exposed to the wind. Although today powered ships are able to resist the force of the wind, sailing vessels, especially in Nephi’s day, had few defenses against strong winds. Thus, the design had to compensate for this, as well as meet certain requirements to keep it afloat. After all, you can’t just build a ship any way you want and expect it to have the required buoyancy to float.
    While the average person would not necessarily know, the Lord of course knew that it is poor design that results in many sinkings, especially in early ships where the instability caused by the center of mass (center of gravity) of the ship rising above the metacenter resulting in the ship tipping on its side or capsizing (foundered or foundering). As an example, when a ship heels (rolls to the side from a turn, wind or pressure), the center of buoyancy (upthrust) of the ship moves laterally. It might also move up or down with respect to the water line. The point at which a vertical line through the heeled center of buoyancy crosses the line through the original, vertical center of buoyancy is the metacenter, which remains directly above the center of buoyancy by definition.
The weight of the ship in the water creates pressure below the vessel, causing the ship to float on a shelf of higher pressure, resulting in buoyancy that keeps the ship above the water line

    This buoyancy or upthrust, is an upward force exerted by the sea that opposes the weight of a ship because the pressure increases with depth as a result of the weight of the vessel. Thus the pressure of the sea at the bottom of a ship (as it pushes down into the water) is greater than at the surface of the sea and this pressure difference results in a net upwards force on the vessel, keeping it afloat. Thus, the ship literally sits on a shelf of water that is strong enough (pressure) to offset the weight placed upon it, which is little different in principle than putting a rock on a bookshelf—if the rock’s weight is not too great for the shelf, it is supported. Which means, simply put, that the design of the ship, i.e., its weight ration to footprint, has to meet the buoyance principle involved—which is why an aircraft carrier, at 106,300 ton can float (a principle in my younger years that was beyond my comprehension).
    Because a vessel is in constant motion, it is also subjected to dynamic forces, that is the design of the vessel must include a hull design capable of resisting the bending moments, shear forces, and torsion resulting from the vessel’s weight distribution and the forces of wind and wave. Hulls obviously have to be flexible—if they are not, but are stiff they would break.
(See the next post, “Understanding Laman and Lemuel and Building the Ship – Part II,” for the concluding comments on this very important understanding of Nephi's ship and the Lord's involvement in its design and construction)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Monsoons and Wind and Ocean Currents – Part IV

Continuing with a reader’s submission about our being wrong regarding the winds and currents in the Indian Ocean and not being able to sail from Arabia to Indonesia, specifically the Malay Peninsula, in 600 B.C. Having shown some of the errors in the article submitted in the previous post, we return to the main point of showing Lehi’s course forced by these monsoon winds.
Air over land heats and rises drawing moist air in from tropical oceans creating the monsoons, which is a seasonal shift in the prevailing wind direction

    First of all, a monsoon is a large-scale sea breeze, that is a cool breeze blowing from the sea toward the land and is a seasonal shift in the prevailing kind direction, that usually brings with it a different kind of weather. In Physical Geography, a wind blowing from the sea to the land, especially during the day when the land surface is warmer. It is a thermally produced wind blowing from a cool ocean surface onto adjoining warm land, which is caused by a convection current during the day.
    In the area of the India-Indian Ocean monsoons, that breeze can escalate into not only very strong winds, but quite destructive weather fronts over the land mass of India, and adjoining regions. During the northeast (wind out of the northeast) monsoon, a persistent and large high pressure zone over Asia drives cool, dry air southward toward the tropics. This provides the monsoon region with its dry season. Then, during the southwest (wind out of the southwest) the summer monsoon arrives with persistent southerly wind flow driven by a warm air mass with low pressure at the surface that forms over southern Asia as it is warmed by the sun. Air from the relatively higher pressure air mass over the Indian and tropical western Pacific Ocean flows northward toward the low pressure over land, bring with it torrential rains. A late arrival of the monsoon can be bad for agriculture, as the monsoon rains are necessary for summer crops
    When the air mass over land heats up it rises drawing in the cooler air overlying the sea, creating a breeze, which occurs when the temperature on land is significantly warmer or cooler than the temperature of the ocean. These Southwest monsoon winds are called 'Nairutya Maarut' in India, which is the reversal of winds that start taking place over the India sub-continent during the summer season, when cold and dry continental northeasterly winds are replaced by warm and moist southwesterly winds (Forecast Update for Monsoon 2015 in India,” Skymet Weather Services, India). These are extremely wet or dry events within the monsoon period (Stephanie Paige Ogburn, “Indian Monsoons Are Becoming More Extreme,” Scientific American, 2014), that based on a new study, have increased since 1980 (Quirin Schiermeier, “Extreme Monsoons on the Rise in India,” Nature International Journal, 30 November 2006).
The India Monsoon Current refers to the seasonally varying ocean current regime found in the tropical regions of the northern Indian Ocean. During winter, the flow of the upper ocean is directed westward from the Bay of Bengal near the Indonesian Archipelago to the Arabian Sea, which by the way precludes any sailing vessel “driven by the wind” from moving toward Indonesia from Arabia.
During the summer, the direction reverses, with eastward flow extending from Somalia into the Bay of Bengal—not into Indonesia. The seasonally reversing open ocean currents that pass south of India are referred to as the Winter Monsoon Current and the Summer Monsoon Current, or the Northeast Monsoon Current and the Southwest Monsoon Current.
    With this in mind, it is important to know that in the northern hemisphere (that includes the northern half of Sumatra, all of the Malay Peninsula, all of the South China Sea, the Sunda Shelf, Strait of Malacca, all of India, Bay of Bengal and Sri Lanka, all of Arabian Peninsula, and all of Somalia) tropical regions of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, surface winds blow predominantly from the northeast year round, with westward-flowing ocean currents underneath.
Everything north of the Equator is in the Northern Hemisphere and the winds and currents are predominantly from the northeast year round, with westward-flowing ocean currents underneath

    Once we understand all of this, then it makes sense to recognize that sailing from Arabia to the east will not reach Indonesia and the Pacific Ocean, which half that distance would lie south of the Equator, but end up in the Bay of Bengal, not the Malay Peninsula.
Top: Uninformed historians and scholars would have Lehi sailing as shown by the red arrow against the predominant winds and currents out of the northeast; Bottom: In reality, any ship “driven forth before the wind” would be turned by those predominant northeast winds and currents to sail toward the south, where they would pick up the eastward curving South Indian Ocean Gyre

    Now, when Lehi left the area of Khor Rori along the Salalah Plain, his ship would have been blown southwest along the winds coming off the mainland as has been shown. The Winter Monsoon Current extends from the Bay of Bengal, around India and Sri Lanka, and across the Arabian Sea at a latitude of approximately 8 degrees North.
    Currents flow to the southwest along the coast of Somalia to the equator (Stefan Hastenrath and Lawrence Greischar, 1991: “The Monsoonal Current Regimes of the Tropical Indian Ocean: Observed Surface Flow Fields and Their Geostrophic and Wind-Driven Components,” Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 96, No. C7, 1991, pp12,619–12,633;).
 Lehi’s Course, began under the Monsoon Winds coming off the coast and blowing him southwest, then picked up the South Equatorial Counter Current below the Equator (the Indian Ocean Gyre) that turned him southeast, and then into the Southern Ocean east bound current south of Australia and New Zealand and across toward South America

    Although Mariners have been aware of the existence of the Monsoon current for nearly a thousand years, a detailed understanding did not emerge until after the International Indian Ocean Expedition of the 1960s (D. Shankar, P. N. Vinayachandran and A. S. Unnikrishnan, “The monsoon current in the north Indian Ocean,” Progress In Oceanography, Volume 52, Issue 1, 2002, pp63–120). The World Ocean Circulation Experiment of the mid 1990s permitted detailed measurement of these currents through an extensive field campaign (Friedrich A. Schott and Julian P. McCreary, Jr., "The monsoon circulation of the Indian Ocean," Progress In Oceanography, Volume 51, Issue 1, 2001, pp1–123).
    The point is, and we cannot overemphasize this enough, the movement of ocean currents and the monsoon winds do not blow from the west into Indonesia, but into the Bay of Bengal when the southwest winds are blowing. In trying to move into Indonesia, a vessel “sailing forth before the wind” as did Nephi’s ship, would not have been able to withstand the Pacific Ocean currents blowing across Indonesia and into the Indian Ocean, through the Indonesian through flow (ocean currents coming off the Pacific and through Indonesia and into the Indian Ocean), which would have caused a headwind for any such vessel trying to move past India and Beyond the Bay of Bengal toward Indonesia. Today, that is not a problem with diesel engines and modern sailing techniques and ships designed to sail in that manner, with very experienced crews able to maneuver such vessels extremely well. Lehi’s crew simply would not have been able to do that even if they had a ship that could manage it, which Nephi tells us they did not.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Monsoons and Wind and Ocean Currents – Part III

Continuing with a reader’s submission about our being wrong regarding the winds and currents in the Indian Ocean and not being able to sail from Arabia to Indonesia, specifically the Malay Peninsula, in 600 B.C. Having shown some of the errors in the article submitted in the previous post, we continue here with that article and its sometimes questionable content in regard to the winds and currents in the Indian Ocean.
    it can also be asked, what about: “Since then [9 million years ago], Arab, Greek, Rome and Portuguese sailors have used monsoon winds and currents for their maritime contacts with India” (emphasis added). Has anyone considered that nine million years ago no one today or at any time in history would have known this since no historical written records of any kind date before Moses time?
    This time frame is also mentioned in another statement (though it has a reference): “Scientific studies indicate that the evolution of monsoon started around 9 million years before (Warren L. Prell, et al., Geophysical Monograph, 70, American Geophysical Union, 1992, pp447–469). By the way, this reference is the Geophysical Monograph Series, (AGU Journals) which encompasses all of the scientific areas in Earth and space science. It publishes monographic works and compilations of papers on a single topic. Volumes frequently focus on multidisciplinary problems and are designed to be of interest to researchers, teachers, and graduate students. How interesting that such a revered publication would publish statements of exactness dating to nine million years ago, 8.9 million years before man is supposed to have appeared on the Earth.
    Where is the factual evidence of that?
    Nor is that even an accepted date, for many geologists claim 8 million years, and a number of others claim 5 million, while still others claim15-20 million years. Consequently, it cannot be so stated when the scientific community as a whole cannot agree on any time frame covering a 15 million year difference.
Even as late as the Chola Dynasty (200 A.D. 1279 A.D.) which reached the peak of its influence and power during the medieval period (K.A. Nilakanta Sastri, A History of South India, Oxford University Press, 1955, p5), whose influence spread into the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra, sailed along the eastern coast of India and across the Bay of Bengal in their coastal vessels
The submitted article by our reader goes on to state: “Climatic conditions of the Bay of Bengal are crucial in determining sailing from the ports of the east coast of India. Sailing was carried out north and south along the coast and eastwards across the Bay. Communities of mariners, pilots and merchants acquired vast knowledge through generations of sailing” (emphasis added). Note that the authors are talking about the Bay of Bengal and the trading along the India coast—not the Malay Peninsula (which was merely within an area of influence), which subject is a very minor point introduced within the body of the article.    But when they do, watch how they hedge their words: “While making their voyages to Southeast Asian countries, the sailors and merchants of Orissa and others might have sailed around the Malay Peninsula through the Strait of Malacca, then to the East Indies and Indo-China and beyond” (emphasis added). Once this possibility has been established, the authors then go on to make more definitive statements, such as “Sailors and merchants of Orissa had landed at various places, including Srikshetra in Burma, Takkola, Kokkonagara, Kataha Kadharam in the Malaya Peninsula, Sri Vijaya in Sumatra, Purva Kalinga in Java” (Sila Tripati, Maritime Archaeology: Historical Descriptions of the Seafarings of the Kalingas, Kaveri Books, New Delhi, 2000, p72).
    Now did you notice the authors’ reference for this last statement? Yep, they quoted one of themselves in a previous work. You just gotta love a scholarly, scientific work where the author quotes himself as a reference.
    In addition, the authors write: “The other route to Southeast Asian countries from Orissa has been between the Andaman and Nicobar Islands or between Nicobar Islands and Achin, the northern tip of Sumatra, disembarking on the peninsula around Takuapa or at Kedah. On return they would come directly to Sri Lanka and then to other ports on the east coast of India (14 Prasad, P. C., Foreign Trade and Commerce in Ancient India, Abhinav Publications, New Delhi, 1977, p. 154).
Top Left: Authors view of sailing from Orissa to Sumatra; Top Right: An accurate map of how travel from Orissa to Sumatra would have been accomplished, along the coast, and then past the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and then to Achin (Aceh) Head, Sumatra. Bottom Left: The return trip would have been to cross over to Kedah or Takua Pa and then hug the peninsula coast up to the mainland and around the Bay of Bengal back to Orissa; Bottom Right: So-called sailing through the Malacca Strait and around Malay Peninsula, which would have been extremely dangerous for a ship driven by the wind

    As always, when historians and scholars of the day start drawing lines on maps as to how ancients sailed, they make the mistake of thinking in terms of the shortest distance, but ancient mariner traders rarely had maps, they traveled by memory, sighting different landmarks they knew and had used before and hugged the coast as we have pointed out in previous posts in this series—not out of fear of losing sight of land, but out of necessity for their age and the safety of themselves, their cargoes and their crews--besides, the landmarks visible on the land was what they used to verify where they were sailing as the many ancient Periplus point out.

Continuing with the comments from the authors:
    “People from all over India came by land or river to the nearest sea port and then made a coastal voyage either to Tamralipti, Palur or Masulipatnam, from where ships made a direct voyage to the Far East countries across the Bay of Bengal. Further, these ships took a course to the northeast from Java to reach Canton. This route was followed by merchants who traded with the West and the East.”
Ports on east coast of India where people went in order to sail to the east (dotted arrow); the Island of Java where ships sailed northward to Canton, China, for trade. Note: All this activity is coastal voyages or in protected seas where winds and currents along the coast are accessible to small, coastal trading vessels

    The authors of the article go on to write: “Mariners from Orissa, India used to set out on their journey to Southeast Asian countries during the northeast monsoon (trade wind) and return during the southwest monsoon. The flow of wind and current was favorable for both the onward and return journey.”
According to both the American Meteorological Society and the India Meteorological Department, the two seasons of the Indian Ocean Monsoons (or East Asia Monsoons). Note the direction of the red arrows

    However, the trouble with that is in the direction the winds blow during the “northeast” and “southwest” monsoons. As the chart shows, winds blow from the “northeast” during the Winter Monsoon, and from the “southwest” during the Summer Monsoon. Now we need to keep in mind that Southeast Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea, which in reality would include Sumatra, Malay Peninsula (Malay, Thailand, Myanmar), Java, Borneo, Philippines, as well as mainland Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam (Klaus Kästle, “Map of Southeast Asia Region,” Nations Online Project. One World–Nations Online, 10 September 2013). 
    Consequently, when the winds blow from the northeast, they do not blow toward southeast Asia along the India coast or in the Bay of Bengal, but away from that area, to the southwest—which is why their return are called the Southwest Monsoon. To say that again, the Northeast Monsoon winds do blow to the south, but toward the southwest, not the southeast!
    Keep in mind we are talking about ocean vessels that are dependent upon the wind—what Nephi called “driven forth before the wind” (1 Nephi 18:8,9), not ships driven by any other means.
Left: Black Arrows are the wind direction of the “Northeast Monsoon,” meaning the wind is from the northeast blowing toward the southwest. The broken red arrow is the proposed direction of travel from Orissa to Southeast Asia claimed in the article; Right: In reality, as the broken red line shows, the vessel would be swept along the direction of the northeast monsoon winds and southwest into the Indian Ocean—not to southeast Asia 

    What coastal trading vessels did along a coast where winds and currents are very different because of land masses which affect the direction and force of winds, is one thing, but in discussing moving across seas and oceans in the midst of the strong monsoon winds that bring havoc and disaster all across India and the region is quite another (E.G. Balfour, Encyclopaedia Asiatica: Comprising the Indian Subcontinent, Eastern, and Southern Asia, Cosmo Publications, published 30 November 2003, p995) 
(See the next post, “Monsoons and Wind and Ocean Currents – Part IV,” regarding more of our answer to a reader’s submission about our being wrong regarding the winds and currents in the Indian Ocean and not being able to sail from Arabia to Indonesia, specifically the Malay Peninsula, in 600 B.C. Also, information on the monsoons with Lehi’s direction of sail)

Monday, March 20, 2017

Monsoons and Wind and Ocean Currents – Part II

Continuing with a reader’s submission about our being wrong regarding the winds and currents in the Indian Ocean and not being able to sail from Arabia to Indonesia, specifically the Malay Peninsula, in 600 B.C. Having shown some of the errors in the article submitted in the previous post, we continue here with that article and its sometimes questionable content in regard to the winds and currents in the Indian Ocean. 
    Before continuing, we should note for our readers that winds and currents of the world’s oceans are based on over 35 million surface observations covering the world ocean from 1870-1976 and have been processed for the purpose of calculating monthly normals and standard errors of the eastward and northward components of the wind stress and work done by the winds in the lower 33-feet of the atmosphere. The fields are intended to serve as boundary conditions for models of the ocean circulation, and reliable maps show such results.
Ports along the east coast of India, where much of the early trading and sailing took place. Note the closeness of these ports and trading centers, requiring limited sailing time and certainly coastal sailing, not crossing into deep water away from land

In the referenced submitted article, “Monsoon wind and maritime trade: a case study of historical evidence” (Current Science, Vol 90, No 6, March 2006, p864), the authors discuss ports along the east India coast. In reality, according to their map (see large map like this one in the previous post), there were 19 of these ports, 8 of which were trading centers, were mostly close together with the one big stretch in the south between Mahabalispuram and Masulipatnam, a distance of about 240 miles, then north to Pistapur, about 115 miles, and then to Bimlipatnam about 110 miles, all the rest are from just a handful of miles to about 50 miles. It is important to understand that these jaunts would have been along the coast and not involved in winds and currents out to sea, but upon coastal waters and their winds—a very different type of sailing, requiring a simple, thin hulled and often flat bottomed boat.
    In fact, the ancient Arab coastal dhow was strongly built for coastal waters, with thick wood slats for continual rubbing on rocky shores as they came in each night, and the numerous rocky reefs that abound on these costs, but would not have stood up to the currents pounding the little vessels out to sea. Despite the fact that modern historians love to draw straight lines across narrow channels as ancient routes, these routes hugged the coast for three very important reasons: 1) the waters were less active there and the currents well understood, 2) it was easy to come ashore each night, and 3) it was close to safety in case of storms or even pirate attacks. The fact that these vessels rarely sailed out of sight of land has been accredited by misleading historians writing about fears and not know where they were, etc., is more fantasy than factual, but for the obvious reasons stated above, sailing close to land was a necessity; therefore, the idea of drawing lines from India directly across the Bay of Bengal to Sumatra is of little fact and often downright ignorance of early sailing techniques and shipping construction. To the modern sailor, of course, being close to land is far more dangerous than being out to sea, because of various perils such sailing entails, but then modern sailors have diesel power and strongly-constructed ocean vessels and sailing far from land is not only safer, but simpler. The mistake they make is in believing the ancient mariner, prior to the Age of Sail, with ocean-going vessels and technology of sailing capabilities, believed the same way. It is not that the ancients were not brave enough to sail where they wanted to go, it was that they were not stupid enough to endanger themselves, their cargo, and their crew.
 It is easy enough to draw lines that seem to make sense on a map to show ancient sailing and trading routes, like the red arrow lines that mimic the authors lines on their map, but these ancient mariners would not have taken their small, flimsy 500 B.C. vessels across the deep water where the pounding would have reduced them to kindling

    That these ancient seamen were constantly at sea and had established routes they followed is well known and established, but they sailed close to land, setting in at night, and on long voyages around unknown or unpopulated lands, often set in and planted crops and harvested them before continuing on with their journey, as was pointed out in the circumnavigation of Africa by Phoenician sailors in Egyptian ships in 600 B.C.
    In fact, though not mentioned in the submitted article, coastal sailing has been known in the region of Oman since the 10th millennium B.C. according to Omani history, and “Omani sailors had a reputation for bravery in facing the mountainous seas and other terrors of ocean-going travel in teh archipelagos and had an unrivalled knowledge of seasonal weather patterns, as well as of astronomy and the art of navigation. They are thought to have pioneered the use of mast and sail. The great Arab traveler Al-Mas’udi (an Arab historian and geographer 893-956 A.D.) known as the ‘Herodotus of the Arabs’ who made long voyages with Omani merchants, reported that on the 8,000 miles of ocean between Abyssinia and India and China, “most of the mariners are from Oman.” He was well known for sailing as far south along Africa to Zanzibar and possibly to Madagascar. Note that this is in the 10th century A.D., 1600 years after Lehi sailed, he is considered a brave man for sailing to Madagascar in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa!
    Returning to the submitted article, one of the odd statements within it is: “Harappans were the first mariners from India who had maritime trade relations with countries outside India. They sailed up to the coast of Bahrain, Meluhha, Oman Peninsula and Mesopotamia using monsoon winds and currents, but no evidence is available in this regard” (emphasis added). Again, this is misleading. Meluhha was the Sumerian name of a trading partner along with Magan (an unknown area believed to be in Oman) and Dilmun (an ancient area believed to be located in the Persian Gulf), but no one is certain where Meluhha was located; however, scholarly consensus places encompassing Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the coastal regions of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia (M.A. Nayeem, “Prehistory and Protohistory of the Arabian Peninsula: Bahrain,” Hyderabad Publishers, Arabia, 1990).
The Indus Valley is on the west coast of India and the south coast of Pakistan, a world away from the Bay of Bengal’s winds and currents in an area completely different, where half the trip for the Harappans would have been within the calm waters of the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf. This is an endeavor not even worth mentioning when it comes to braving winds and currents in ancient vessels

    In an interesting but highly misleading switch that one would never know unless they looked it up, sailing from Harrapa in Pakistan of the Indus Valley to Bahrain sounds like they would have had to circumvent the entire India subcontinent unless one has a good knowledge of the area, the trip would have been of no consequent, hugging the cost from Pakistan to the Persian Gulf and into it to Bahrain.
    In addition, how can one write about an event that has no evidence to support it? Is this conjecture, opinion, belief or someone else’s ideas restated here? To justify it, the authors go on to write: “The use of monsoon winds and currents for maritime trade by mariners is less known to all of us. Probably the knowledge of use of monsoon wind and current for maritime trade was only confined to sailors and mariners” (emphasis added). How can such qualifying and hesitant statements be part of a scholarly article in a scientific journal?
    Another comment, regarding the trading being described along the east coast of India, “All these archaeological findings are datable to 2500 to 2000 BP, if not earlier” (emphasis added), yet no reference is given to any dated findings. So how do we know this? Was anything carbon-dated? Is it just an estimate? An opinion? Another non-referenced statement is: “This system continued over a long period, which was possible because of existence of maritime trade” yet again no reference is given to substantiate this declaration 
White Arrows: Monsoon winds blowing from the northeast to the southwest, do not favor ships sailing (Yellow Arrows) to other countries, but send them out to sea in the deep ocean where, as Lehi experienced, are storms that threaten the very survivability of a ship--and no coastal vessel would have survived such a storm. Note the winds do not favor a landing on the West coast of the Malay Peninsula
Another unreferenced statement: “Sailors might have sailed to overseas countries during different seasons and monsoon winds might have favored them in their voyages” (emphasis added) —remember, this is in Current Science journal as though it is a proven fact since no references are submitted for a lot of these questionable statements.
    It is also interesting that the authors state: “The social and religious festivals as well as wind and current data corroborate that the mariners of Orissa probably commenced their journey between November and February and returned between June and September.” Now how can you "probably corroborate," when corroborate means “to confirm, verify, authenticate, validate, certify.” Do you probably certify something, or probably confirm it?
    Continuing with the statement: “None of the foreign authors or travelers has mentioned the association of social festivities of India and elsewhere in relation to monsoon and maritime trade” (emphasis added), thus appearing as though this is a known fact and how odd that no one wrote about it. And if they didn’t write about it, how can it be known to have happened?
    The point is, this article is full of speculation and opinions, not necessarily of these authors, but of the information in general as it is seen in that particular area. When there is no written support of historical beliefs, then they are just that, simply beliefs that are unfounded. And in many cases, simply myths that have been handed down.
(See the next post, “Monsoons and Wind and Ocean Currents – Part III,”  regarding more of our answer to a reader’s submission about our being wrong regarding the winds and currents in the Indian Ocean and not being able to sail from Arabia to Indonesia, specifically the Malay Peninsula, in 600 B.C. In his comment, he included an extensive article appearing in the India Current Science journal showing winds and currents)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Monsoons and Wind and Ocean Currents – Part I

A reader, and no doubt Malay theorist, sent us an article entitled: Historical Notes, “Monsoon wind and maritime trade: a case study of historical evidence” (Current Science, Vol 90, No 6, March 2006, p864) which had several drawings of maps and ocean currents, but was mostly surrounding India and the Bay of Bengal.
Unfortunately, while it seems to contradict our stand on the ocean currents and winds in the Indian Ocean, which was evidently the point of Jay, the submitter, we would like to point out several errors or misleading information in the article.
    First of all, despite the fact that this will not sit well with our readers from India, in regard to the article and reference, The Current Science journal is a publication of an India-peer review scientific journal technology and not a mainstream science publication, though it has been around since 1932 and is published in corroboration with the Indian Academy of Sciences. The journal’s “Impact Factor” is .833 on a scale of highest is best. By comparison, Nature Journal has 41.456; Science 33.61; Physical Science 31.00—meaning they had 41½, 33½, and 31 citations per issue each year, compared to Current Science with less than one citation per issue each year. For an understanding, the “Journal Impact Factor” is used to compare different journals within a certain field—the Web Science indexes more than 11,000 science and social science journals for the average number of citations (the life blood of any journal) to recent articles published in that journal, and used as a proxy (measurement) for the relative importance of a journal within its field. By comparison, consider these SJR [Scimago Journal & Country Rank] open-access journal ratings, of the top 50 journals, ranking from 126.67 references per document to 18.60, and from 11.347 on the SJR to 0.621, Current Science is not even listed among their top 50. And on the H-Index ranking (author-level metric that measures both the productivity and citation impact of the publications of a scientist or scholar), Current Science ranks 84, while the Journal of Geophysical Research ranks 226; Limnology and Oceanography 151; Marine Pollution Bulletin 113; Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology 112; Deep Sea Research 110; Journal of Physical Oceanography 109; Paleoceanography 100; Marine Chemistry 99; Marine Geology 98; Oceanographic Research 96; Global and Planetary Change 94; Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 94 and several others between 90 and 85.
Current Science claims that it publishes special sections on diverse and topical themes of interest and this has served as a platform for the scientific fraternity to get their work acknowledged and highlighted,” however, as one might suspect from the “Impact Factor,” the work of these India (and other) scientists are not well recognized in the scientific community. It is also mentioned, including the writing about India Monsoons, the “contributions to these special issues ‘which receive widespread attention’ are from leading scientists in India and abroad,” but again, they do not receive widespread attention, as an example less than one citation per issue per year.
    Now, having said that, though it is extremely important when citing a references for one’s own purposes as the submitter did for this blog, let us provide some suggestions as to why this citation information could be so low in regard to the article that was referenced. Keep in mind that low rankings does not, in and of itself, reflect on the accuracy and value of the article in question, however, our response comes after reading the article and looking up some of the references quoted.
    While the submitter used the article reference as an all-inclusive reference to sailing with winds and currents from the south coast of Arabia to the Malay Peninsula, the article itself concentrated on sailing to and from India, which is a pivotal land mass that extends deep into the Indian Ocean between these two points (Arabia and Malay). In addition, the article’s authors Sila Tripati and L. N. Raut, no doubt well knowledgeable of their subject, continually use qualifying terminology in at least 33 cases, such as “probably” (6 times), as in “probably commenced their journey“ or “probably the knowledge, and “might have” (6 times), such as “Sailors might have sailed to overseas countries…” or “might have passed down…” and also “not clear” (2 times) as in “reasons are not clear,” and “evidence,” which is used 10 times in the entire article with only 3 references, the rest are just words used as though they have support but do not, and in one case, is used in “but no direct evidence…” and there is “possible” as in “as possible within direct observation” but no reference is given, and in “difficult to determine” as in “it is difficult to determine when the southwest monsoon…” and in stating as non-referenced date, then adding “if not earlier,” again, without support, and also “none” as in “none of the foreign authors has mentioned…” There is also using dates, such as nine million years ago, or 2500 years ago, claiming they are datable, but giving no dating support.
    This type of writing is done when one is “hedging their bets,” or “stating opinions or speculation that is not provable,” and is often found in professional, scientific writing because statements are being made out of belief or attitudes and not out of facts and provable knowledge.
    Also, no references are given to adamant statements of importance, such as “Archaeological and historical evidences indicate…” “during the early historical period…”
    The title of article is “Monsoon wind and maritime trade: a case study of historical evidence from Orissa, India,” yet in the entire article, only 29 references are listed, and many of these do not relate to all that is being said prior to the noted reference, which is particularly misleading during run-on sentencing, since it is not possible to know which of the earlier comment is being referenced.
    There are also numerous misleading comments, such as: “when [the] northeast monsoon begins over south of the Indian peninsula” (emphasis added) since the monsoons do not begin over the southern peninsula, but rage from the north and hit all across the country, bringing extensive flooding to the inland areas each year.
Flooding in the four specific areas from Gujarat in the northwest along the border with Pakistan, to Assam in the northeast corner along the Myanmar (Burma) border, and across the central parts of India (Madhya and Bihar), where the Monsoons begin and push across the country to the Indian Ocean far to the south of India

    As an example, a recent article under the heading of “Incredible Flood Damage Across Northern India,” by Mark Byrnes (Atlantic City Lab, June 29, 2013), and stated: “Heavy rains caused the worst damage in the states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, located in the foothills of the Himalayas. Downpours there have left roads, homes, cars and cell phone towers destroyed.”
Examples of the flooding in the north and across the country (none of these shots are in the south)

    The referenced article was based on ancient mariners from Orissa (formerly Odisha), which is along the northeastern coast of India, separated from the Bangladesh border by the state of West Bengal at the most northern shore of the Bay of Bengal. A look at the map below should suggest that the authors were writing about and suggesting travels within the Bay of Bengal to which they addressed most of their remarks. The Bay is a closed eco-system of winds and currents and reaching Malay from Orissa or even the east coast of India and Sir Lanka would not be that difficult since they were not sailing in the Indian Ocean at all, and solely within the Bay which has sets of currents all its own and not subject to those of the Indian Ocean, but where the monsoons have direct vertical effect (north and south) but not hindered by sub-current (east and west) that effect the Sea of Arabia and the Indian Ocean. To show this, the authors of the article included 12 maps of the Bay of Bengal’s ocean currents in which the months of June and July would be best to sail south toward Malay and Sumatra; however, the maps are of such poor quality it is difficult to see if any months show movement back to the north.
(See the next post, “Monsoons and Wind and Ocean Currents – Part II,”  regarding more of our answer to a reader’s submission about our being wrong regarding the winds and currents in the Indian Ocean and not being able to sail from Arabia to Indonesia, specifically the Malay Peninsula, in 600 B.C. In his comment, he included an extensive article appearing in the India Current Science journal showing winds and currents)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Why Are Native American Languages so Diverse if they All Came from Lehi? – Part II

Continuing from the previous post, regarding the difference in the numerous languages today and at the time the European reached the New World from the single language first arriving with Lehi and his family. 
    Today, of course, the Americas truly have remarkable complexity in language, with roughly 100 major language families. But what does that actually imply about the Book of Mormon? First, it should be kept in mind that the Book of Mormon does not say that all Native Americans descended from Lehi. While the scriptural record does not lend support to others living in the Land of Promise as the same time other than the Jatedites, Nephites, Mulekites and Lamanites, that does not preclude other influences arriving in the Land of Promise between the demise of the Nephite Nation in 385 A.D. and the arrival of the Spaniards around 1500 A.D.
During that eleven hundred years, other peoples or groups could easily have, and most likely did, arrive in some numbers to the shores of the Americas. What languages they spoke, and what, if any, influence they had on the Hebrew language the Lamanites once spoke and later degenerated into numerous languages and dialects, is simply not known and cannot be speculated upon.
    Of course, there are those who believe and promote the idea that “there is no reason to doubt that many other groups were present in other parts of the hemisphere—it is a gross misconception to think that the Book of Mormon describes the only origins of all ancient peoples in the Americas, though some people have made that assumption.” Whether that is true or not, we have no way of knowing, and in all reality, is of little consequence.
    That Mesoamerican theorists have to maintain that idea since Middle American history tells them that other groups existed there, they obviously have to maintain that these groups interacted with, or at least, existed at the same time as the Book of Mormon period. The same is true of the Heartland, Great Lakes and Eastern U.S. theorists, since there is considerable evidence of numerous aboriginal inhabitants, with far less capabilities than the Jaredites and Lehites would have possessed, existed in North America around the same time.
    However, to require other groups and peoples, speaking diverse languages, is not required to understand that a single language, over a thousand years, among people with no contact with the outside world, or one another, will change—and in many cases, change dramatically—especially when those groups were illiterate as many of the Native American tribes were when the Europeans arrived. To insist other peoples had to have been present to influence those changes is simply an irrational need to support other agenda purposes—such as having to have people in the scriptural record where no other people existed.
These theorists continue with their insistence of other groups, saying, “Furthermore, it might be noted that the remarkable linguistic complexity of the pre-Columbian New World is rather difficult to explain on the basis of any unitary theory of Indian origins, including the one that has them all coming across a Siberian land bridge,” or in the case of the Book of Mormon, coming across in just three separate voyages (Jaredites, Lehites and Mulekites), but making up one (unitary) “story-line” within the Book of Mormon.
    As these theorists like to point out, “Of the world's approximately 3000 languages, that is tongues that are mutually unintelligible, about 400 were spoken in the Western Hemisphere." That, by the way is only about 13%, which in all reality, is a rather small number considering the area makes up about 1/3 of the world’s land surface.
    However, the point is, language evaluations and statistics determined in our modern era do not necessarily reflect the circumstances of the Americas in 400 A.D., long after the time of the demise of the Jaredites, and at the time of the demise of the Nephites, or in 1500 A.D., at the time of the European arrivals, as to how many languages were spoken, how many dialects were spoken, and what the connections might have been between languages since from the European influence, most, if not all, native languages were heavily influenced by word exchanges and inclusions over the following hundreds of years when these languages intermixed, and before modern-day linguists began seriously looking into and categorizing them. After all, somewhere around the time of Noah’s grandson, Nimrod, (Genesis 10:6-8), everyone spoke one single language (Genesis 11:1), but since that time one language has become 3000 “mutually unintelligible” languages.
It should also be noted that linguists, beginning with Major John Wesley Powell (left) in the 19th century, have classified these languages into about 100 "families" of genetically related tongues, similar in scope to the Indo-European family (which includes most of the languages of Europe, Persia and India).
    In other words, there were approximately one hundred language families in pre-Columbian America that were as distinct from one another as the Indo-European family (which is made up of such varied languages as English, Sanskrit, Russian, Greek, Latin, Spanish, Norwegian, Persian, Irish Gaelic, and Hindi) is distinct from Chinese, Sumerian, and Arabic. Furthermore, even in the view of those most committed to an Asian origin for the American Indian, at best only a few languages of the New World can be even tentatively linked with Asian tongues:
    With the exception of Eskimo, speakers of which are found on both sides of the Bering Straits, no native American language has been found to have positive connections with any in the Old World, although some arguments have been advanced for the affinity of Athapascan (spoken in northwestern North America and by the Navajo and Apache of the American Southwest) and certain languages of eastern Asia
    Thus, despite the uncontested fact that mainstream anthropological opinion overwhelmingly agrees that the ancestors of the American Indians came from Asia, even very establishment discussions of pre-Columbian linguistics acknowledge that "one cannot point out Asiatic origins for New World languages.
Along the Andean corridor  of Western Central South America, from Ecuador to central Chile, the indigenous languages have been just two: Quechua and Aymara

    What has often been overlooked, however, mostly because the work done in Middle America by Mesoamerican theorists and their groups have overshadowed  the LDS scene as as to what has taken place in Andean South America. As an example, when the Spanish arrived, there were very few separate languages spoken in Ecuador, Peru, western Bolivia and northern Chile. Quechua (the most widely spoken language family of indigenous peoples of the Americas) and Aymara (possibly related to Quechua) were not only the two dominant languages spoken in Andean South America at the time of the Spanish arrival, but almost the only languages spoken, with the additional three secondary languages, Jivaroan, Tukanoan and Cahuapanan.
This is very different than anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere, where very large numbers of languages were spoken, with 135 languages in Brazil alone; 12 main languages in Central America and 33 secondary languages; 21 Mayan languages in Mesoamerica, plus many others in southern Mexico, Yucatan, and western Honduras; and 7 major native American languages in North America, with hundreds of such different languages spoken at the time of the European arrival.
    Thus, other than Andean South America, where only two major languages existed at the time of the Spanish arrival, and a handful of small dialects, as compared to the numerous complexity of other languages spoken in Central, Meso, and North America, should suggest, even to the most prudent, that Andean South America more closely identifies with the two languages of the Book of Mormon (Nephite and Lamanite) at the time of the demise of the Nephite Nation, than anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Why Are Native American Languages so Diverse if they All Came from Lehi? – Part I

“If all native Americans came from Lehi, why are their languages so diverse,” is often asked of us by both members and critics alike. However, the answer is not that complicated, at least regarding the language.
     It is documented that Lehi left Jerusalem in 600 B.C., or more accurately, the first year of Zedekiah’s reign, which date is more accurately placed at, according to historians, 597 B.C. We know they spent at least 8 years in the wilderness (1 Nephi 17:4), and probably close to two years in Bountiful building their ship. So this makes their landing in the Land of Promise somewhere around 587 B.C.
    We also know that Mulek and those who brought him, for he would have been near a baby or very young child at the time, escaped the Babylonians sometime between 597 B.C. and when the siege of Jerusalem began in 587 B.C. through the summer of 586 B.C. If it took Mulek the same ten years to reach the Land of Promise that it took Lehi, then he arrived around 576 B.C.
Nephi and his brothers return to Lehi’s tent in the wilderness with the records of Laban

    Lehi, of course, sent Nephi back to get the records held by Laban, in which effort the Spirit told Nephi “It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief“ (1 Nephi 4:13). Thus, Lehi had the scriptures, which not only had the language of their fathers upon them, and the history and heritage of his people dating back to Adam, but also a record of their language and a record of the law of Moses (1 Nephi 4:15). At the same time, the Mulekites came without records, or history, or knowledge of their heritage in any written format (Omni 1:17).
    Thus, in time, the Nephites were able to maintain their language, both the Hebrew they spoke and wrote in on a daily basis, and the Reformed Egyptian of the sacred records, which enabled them to keep before them both their heritage, as well as their language. Something the Mulekites did not possess.
    In fact, Benjamin made this quite clear when he taught his sons, Mosiah, Helorum and Helaman, saying: “And he also taught them concerning the records which were engraven on the plates of brass, saying: My sons, I would that ye should remember that were it not for these plates, which contain these records and these commandments, we must have suffered in ignorance, even at this present time, not knowing the mysteries of God. For it were not possible that our father, Lehi, could have remembered all these things, to have taught them to his children, except it were for the help of these plates; for he having been taught in the language of the Egyptians therefore he could read these engravings, and teach them to his children, that thereby they could teach them to their children, and so fulfilling the commandments of God, even down to this present time” (Mosiah 1:3-4).
In fact, Benjamin made it even clearer: “were it not for these things, which have been kept and preserved by the hand of God, that we might read and understand of his mysteries, and have his commandments always before our eyes, that even our fathers would have dwindled in unbelief, and we should have been like unto our brethren, the Lamanites, who know nothing concerning these things, or even do not believe them when they are taught them, because of the traditions of their fathers, which are not correct” (Mosiah 1:5).
    On the other hand, by the time Mosiah discovered Zarahemla and the Mulekites, which would have been around 200 B.C., thus they had been without records or knowledge of their language in written form for nearly 400 years, and “their language had become corrupted; and they had brought no records with them; and they denied the being of their Creator; and Mosiah, nor the people of Mosiah, could understand them” (Omni 1:17).
    The Nephites, contrary to John L. Sorenson’s belief, were literate, and kept many records. In fact, Mormon highlights the issue in his abridgement, saying: “now there are many records kept of the proceedings of this people, by many of this people, which are particular and very large, concerning them” (Helaman 3:13), adding “But behold, there are many books and many records of every kind, and they have been kept chiefly by the Nephites” (Helaman 1:15). And as for illiterate, “Now behold, all those engravings which were in the possession of Helaman were written and sent forth among the children of men throughout all the land, save it were those parts which had been commanded by Alma should not go forth” (Alma 63:12).
    In just that period of time, from about 586 B.C. to about 200 B.C., two groups of people, coming from the exact same area, within a handful of years of being the exact same time, that would have been speaking the exact same language—Hebrew—grew so far apart, that they could not understand one another nearly 400 years later (Omni 1:17).
Now the Lamanites, beginning as brothers (Laman and Lemuel), and the Nephites (Sam and Nephi), drew far from each other in language as well, both groups coming from the same family generation, but after landing in the Land of Promise and separating from one another, around 585 B.C., by 125 B.C., 460 years later, the Nephbite defector Amulon was appointed by the Lamanite king to teach the Lamanites the language of the Nephites (Mosiah 24:4).
    Just over five hundred years later, in 385 A.D., after some 150 years of separation once again, the Nephites were wiped out by the Lamanites at Cumorah. What language the Lamanites spoke at this time we are not told, nor whether they could still read and write the Hebrew language of the Nephites. However, after 36 years of devastating civil wars, with no end in sight, it is highly unlikely they were spending any time in reading or writing, or in furthering the teaching of such to their younger generations. During and especially after this time, the Lamanites were broken up into small groups or tribes where everyone not of their own tribe was a stranger and an enemy to be killed or brutally treated.
    It is conceivable that each of these tribal groups degenerated their languages into that which was tribal specific, i.e., one tribe did not speak the same as another any longer—their language, after a thousand years when the Europeans arrived, had fallen into, for the most part, single-syllable, guttural sounds. In North America, Algic was the most commonly used language, then Uto-Aztecan and Siouan, followed by Athabaskan, with Muskogean and Iroquoian and Salishan bringing up the rear. All other languages made up a very small percentage.
    It eventually became so variant, that these different tribes augmented their languages with hand signs when communicating among tribes, and eventually only sign language since no two languages were the same. Even today, or especially when the Europeans first arrived, some of these separate tribes could communicate with one another, though not necessarily in great detail. But, again, over time, languages change.
Even Moroni made this clear when he said, “And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech. And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record” (Mormon 9:32-33).
    Even the language the Nephites had spoken and written for a thousand years, over time, had become altered. How much, we are not told, but Moroni was well aware of the fact that their language had become different in 385 A.D. from when it had first arrived in the Land of Promise with Lehi and his family.
    So not only is it understandable that language changes over time, even among literate and knowledgeable people. Our English language today, is so different from the English of a thousand years ago spoken in England at the time of the Conquest of William the Conqueror, it can barely be understood in written form, and doubtful understood at all in spoken form. Thus, we would not expect the various Lamanite tribes found in the Americas in the 15th-16th centuries by Columbus and the following Europeans to be the same from tribe to tribe, from region to region, and from land to land.
(See the next post, “Why Are Native American Languages so Diverse if they All Came from Lehi? – Part II,” for more information on the differences of Native American languages from their combined original single language)