Sunday, April 26, 2015

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

This scriptural reference given by Nephi has been entirely overlooked by all Theorists, at least as we read their writings about the Land of Promise. Mesoamericanists especially, and those who favor the eastern U.S. (Heartland, Great Lakes, Mound Building in Mississippi Basin, etc.), appear unresponsive of the idea that Nephi clearly stated when he combined three ores following the word “both,” which means “two.” 
On the other hand, the theorists mentioned above have difficulty with the entire concept of metallurgy in the scriptural record, since nothing of any significance has been found in the ground after several decades of archaeological work looking for such metal artifacts. In fact, while the earliest metallurgy found in Mesoamerica dates to around 900 A.D., though some (like John L. Sorenson) have claimed as early as 600 A.D. There has been none found in the eastern U.S. in B.C. times.
    However, it was in Andean South America, where metallurgy is considered to have first begun in the Americas, specifically in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Ecuador—with the earliest gold work dated to 2155 to 1936 B.C., and mostly in very intricate ornamentation.
According to archaeologists, there is no question that metallurgy in the Andean area of South America was far superior to anything found elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere and rivaled that of the Old World
    Indigenous South Americans had full metallurgy with smelting and various metals being purposely alloyed, while metallurgy in Mesoamerica developed from contacts with South America. In addition, extensive use of smelting kilns has been found in the area of Lake Titicaca (Puma Punku and Tiahuanacu) as early as 8000 B.C. through 500 A.D., in making metal I-beams used to connect huge stone blocks.
    Fully developed smelting in adobe brick furnaces has been found among the Moche of Peru (200 B.C.) along the coast where ores were extracted at shallow deposits in the Andean foothills, and brought to the specialized metallurgical workshops in the developed cities where it was shaped and formed into high numbers of objects. According to Heater Lechtman (“The Production of Copper-Arsenic Alloys in the Central Andes: Highland Ores and Coastal Smelters,” Journal of Field Archaeology, 1991, 18 pp 43-76), the placement of these workshops in the administrative sections of cities suggests the high importance the people placed upon metal and those who worked it. It is interesting to note that the type of copper-arsenic alloys, enargite is only found in the high sierra of the central Andes, while arsenopyrite is also available in some of the north coast valleys.
    Professor of Archaeology at M.I.T., Lechtman, trained in archaeology and anthropology, and the Director of the Center for Materials Research in Archaeology and Ethnology, and who has carried out field work in the Andean zone of South America for 30 years, has as her specialty the prehistoric Andean metallurgy. From her field and laboratory studies, Andean metallurgy emerges as a technology quintessentially Andean, distinct from the early metallurgies of western Asia, Europe, and Africa. She is considered an expert in ancient American metallurgy and especially of that found in ancient prehistoric Peru.
    As she states, “Although Andean metallurgy stressed the non-utilitarian quality of its products, it was among the most sophisticated of prehistoric metallurgical traditions in the Old World and the New, and it was through the very technologies involved in their manufacture that those same non-utilitarian metal objects provided the Peruvian with an important means of perpetuating their normative power” (Technologies of Power: The Andean Case, Heather Lechtman Cornell University Press, (p244)
According to Lechtman, metallurgy and cloth in the Andes assumed a very different social role than that of Europe and Asia, where both were used for very different purposes. In the Andes, both metallurgy and textiles reached great heights, even greater than in the Old World in technique and process, producing very high quality results that have seldom been seen elsewhere, yet has often been overlooked by historians because of this difference—beauty and perfection over utilitarian usage, i.e., weapons and tools, and were the source of power, while in the Andes, the art and beauty were the source of power.
    This is much like the Book of Mormon, where the Nephites, while involved in the pages of the scriptural record were often defending themselves against Lamanite attack, were more involved in their religion, and their society, than in standing armies and tools for accomplishment.
    It was also very Nephite for them to have had exceptional silk and fine-twined linen, costly apparel, and all manner of good homely cloth of every kind (Mosiah 10:5; Alma 1:29; Helaman 6:13), as well as Jaredite (Ether 8:36-37; 9:17; 10:24).
    Another issue that is something seldom discussed among archaeologists and materialists, and that is the actual movement from stone tools (hammers, knives, chisels, and querns, as well as arrowheads, axes, spear points, maces and slings) to those of bronze, was more from a society standpoint a matter of cost than utility. According to Karen Olsen Bruhns (Ancient South America, Cambridge University Press 1994), Bronze tools were often an expensive substitute for the equally efficient stone tools so easily made and functionally effective.
    The word “stone” in this sense often brings to mind “rock,” however, stone tools were often made of obsidian, flint, chert, rhyolites, felsites, quartites, jasper and others, which were both inexpensive and very effective.
    Which brings us back to the first comment above “both gold, and silver, and copper.” Obviously, the word “both” means “two,” as in “both a dog and a cat.” One would not say “both a dog and a cat and a monkey.” But Nephi and Joseph Smith were not using improper grammar as some suppose. To understand this statement, we merely need to recognize that two of those items can categorically be placed as one—that is, the precious metals of gold and silver, which is one item, the non-precious metal “copper,” which is a second item. This is also seen in “the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam” (2 Nephi 9:21). Again, men and women are adults (one category) and children are not (another category). So what about both gold, and silver, and copper?
Top Left: Ore rock containing 3.95 ppm gold, 5 ppm silver, and 1% copper; Top Right: High grade silver, containing gold and copper; Bottom Left: Both gold, silver, and copper in a single ore sample; Bottom Right: Both gold, silver, and copper bubbled in a single ore
    So why did Nephi make such a statement? Obviously, because the Nephites found “all manner of ore,” including that which contained gold, silver and copper in a single ore. We need only keep in mind that ore often contains more than one metal, especially the ore of copper, which can contain gold, and it can contain gold and silver. Thus, we see that Nephi is telling us that he found abundant deposits of gold, silver and copper ore—a single ore containing all three metals.
    Now, copper is not found in gold and silver ore deposits everywhere—none, as a matter of fact in the Great Lakes region, and while tumbaga (a manufactured alloy of gold and copper) was found in Central America, it was not found in the ground in that manner, because it is a man-made alloy. It is a fact, though, that gold, silver and copper are found in single ore in Chile and Peru in Andean South America.
(See the next post, “Metallurgy in Andean Peru—Both of Gold and of Silver and of Copper – Part II,” for more on the use of gold, silver and copper in Andean South America, and metallurgy there long before it was used in Mesoamerica)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Rise of the Inca State and Empire – Part III

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

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Rise of the Inca State and Empire – Part II

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Rise of the Inca State and Empire – Part I

The Inca Empire is less familiar to most people than that of the Romans, though the Inca came on the scene about 900 years after the fall of Rome, which had become a Republic around 509 B.C. (about 110 years before Lehi left Jerusalem) and fell to the Goths in 476 A.D., though their empire split in two in 395 A.D. (ten years after the fall of the Nephite nation). 
Contrary to popular belief, the Inca Empire, called Tahuantinsuyu  ("Land of the Four Quarters"), who referred to themselves as “The Children of the Sun,” lasted less than 100 years. At its peak, the Empire stretched 2,500 miles from Quito, Ecuador, to beyond Santiago, Chile. Within its domain were rich coastal settlements, high mountain valleys, rain-drenched tropical forests and the driest of deserts. The Inca controlled perhaps 16 million people, speaking a hundred different tongues. It was the largest empire on earth at the time Pizarro executed its last emperor in 1533, Atahualpa, at which time it had existed only 50 years.
    Even so, because the Inca caught the imagination of the public, with its amazing rise to power and the accomplishments that have always been associated with it because of its general location in the same area that earlier civilizations accomplished so much that were so visual and beyond anything else at the time than perhaps the Roman Empire before it, much of the construction, ruins, roads, and accomplishments that long preceded the Inca were at the time claimed by them, and much later, laid at their doorstep by uninformed historians and scholars.
    As an example, the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, which overlooks the valley of Cuzco, which the Inca claimed was their homeland, has been attributed to Inca builders; however, when the Spanish arrived, the Inca told them they had no idea who had built Sacsayhuaman and that it had stood long before they arrived in the valley somewhere around the 12th or 13th century.  Another example is when conquistador Pedro Cieza de Leon came upon the remains of Tiwanaku in 1549 (16 years after the death of Atahualpa and the fall of the Inca Empire), he was told by the Incan natives no one had any idea who built the fortress complex, or how old it might have been.
Top: The outer three tiered, zig-zagged walls that guarded the fortress complex; Middle: An artists drawing of the complex behind the walls; Bottom: The sheer size and masterful interconnected stones that were part of the walls
    Yet, the Inca have been credited with building both sites, and numerous others in Peru that were far beyond their ability to construct.
    For the Latter-day Saint, it should be important to reconstruct this people and find out who they really were, not who others claim them to be. Nor, as we will point out later, would they have had the time or the manpower to devote to such massive construction during their very short presence on the scene that was taken up mostly with conquest and expansion.
    At the fall of the Nephite Nation in 385 B.C., Moroni tells us “the Lamanites are at war one with another; and the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war” (Mormon 8:8). Evidently, after a thousand years of wars with the Nephites, the Lamanites were not satiated, for after all the Nephites fell, leaving Moroni alone (Mormon 8:3), they continuing their warring, fighting a devastating civil war among themselves. In 410 A.D., twenty-five years later, Moroni writes that the Lamanite wars were still going on, “their wars are exceedingly fierce among themselves; and because of their hatred they put to death every Nephite” (Moroni 1:2).
How long those wars lasted, we are not told since the record ended at that time; however, thanks to Fernandez Montesinos chronology of the Inca fall, and the poem derived from it by Chancey Thomas in 1890,which we have printed in this blog a couple of times over the past five years, we have some insight into the misery of the Lamanite people and their lives following the final destruction of the Nephite Nation. While there is no authenticity behind this poem, it reflects an attitude of the indigenous people of the Andes and what befell them as a result of their bloodthirsty wars and final destruction of a once chosen people.
    The poem starts off stating: “Since the time of the old empire’s fall, a thousand years had passed,” suggesting that around 400 A.D., after the fall of the Nephites, the Lamanite people ceased to be governed under one king, as seen in the scriptural record (Mormon 6:2). As the Lamanites continued fighting, and the civil war among themselves broke out, they obviously fell into tribal leadership with each man owing his allegiance to his own tribe or group, as had the Nephites prior to the period of destruction at the time of the crucifixion (3 Nephi 7:2).
    Moroni tells us that during this time, “the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed” (Mormon 8:8). Chancey’s poem puts it this way: 
          “Insatiate war, that heeds not right nor life, nor love, 
           Had gorged upon the people’s sustenance,
           With famine, dread pestilence, And still the strife went on, 

           No lasting peace, but ever and anon, 
           And now the angry notes of war were heard again.”
    Insatiate war, that is a war that does not satisfy, battles that do not end, killing that never ceases—perhaps a short pause, then the angry sounds of war are heard again.
    For a thousand years, from about 400 A.D. until about 1400 A.D., the indigenous tribes are constantly at war with one another, a bloodthirsty, insatiable war that rages on year after year, generation after generation, where there is no peace, no pause, no cessation from murder and killing, from anger and depression, from loss of life to loss of life, with no one knowing when it all might end.
One can only wonder at the promises the Lord made to Lehi about this land. “We have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity” (2 Nephi 1:5, 7).
    Yet the Lord made it clear through Father Lehi to his children and their descendants, that if people are brought down into captivity in this land, “it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever” (2 Nephi 1:7).
    And so, after 200  years of righteousness among both Nephite and Lamanite, during a time when their were no –ites, some members of the Church withdrew. As the Disciple Nephi wrote: “there was still peace in the land, save it were a small part of the people who had revolted from the church and taken upon them the name of Lamanites; therefore there began to be Lamanites again in the land.
    As Chauncey’s poem put it: “And then the growing corn was trampled down, And smoking hamlets marked The deathly trail of warlike bands. And time wore slowly on, The victors of today, tomorrow slaves, Then slaves grown stronger break their bonds.”
    As Moroni put it, there “is one continual round of murder and bloodshed” (Mormon 8:8), and during this time the crops were wasted, pestilence and famine raked the land, villages and cities were burned to the ground, as time passed agonizingly slow, with men and women in the throes of fear, agony, and defeat. Those who won a battle today, were defeated the next and enslaved, only to eventually break the bonds of slavery later, and start again. A never-ending battle of murder, killing and death that had no end.
(See the next post, “The Rise of the Inca State and Empire – Part II,” for more on the thousand years that passed between the fall of the Nephite Nation and the coming of the Spanish, when the rise of the Inca spread across the land)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Rise of Civilization in Mesoamerica

While the earliest inhabitants of Andean South America have been established, both in the north (Ecuador) and in the south (Chile), the same cannot be said for Mesoamerica (southern Mexico, Yucatan, Guatemala, Belize, and part of Honduras). This is because solid evidence of any culture does not begin before around 1500 B.C. with the people now known as Olmec, which some place no earlier in the land than 1300 B.C. 
The Olmec (“Rubber People”) are known to be the first people to have left signs of their culture for succeeding civilizations. However, while that would mean to most of us that they were the first to be in the land, to the archaeologist and anthropologist, it means before the Olmec were a people we simply do not have any record about--however, their approach is diffusion, recognizing someone had to have preceded the Olmec. To their way of thinking, “The earliest Mexicans might have been Stone Age hunter-gatherers from the north, descendants of a race that crossed the Bering Strait and reached North America around 12,000 B.C. Or, according to more recent theories, they might have been even earlier explorers from Asia.”
    The key wordage in that quote is the words “might have been.”
    To better understand this way of thinking, one has to recognize that through the principle of “diffusion,” science is obligated to form a people, even groups of people, that supposedly lived in an area prior to those that left a mark. After all, to the archaeologist, if they find evidence of a people living in Mesoamerica dating to the “Classic Period,” they then assume that there would have been an earlier people in the “Pre-Classic Period,” whether there is any evidence or not.
    While the Olmec are considered to be Mesoamerica’s “Mother Culture,” it has been “speculated” that they derive in part from neighboring Mokaya and/or Mixe-Zoque, who were part of pre-Olmec cultures, which are claimed to have flourished in the area since about 2500 B.C. The Mokaya (“Corn People”), are thought to have developed in the Soconusco region in Mexico and parts of the Pacific coast of Guatemala. Their dating at 1900 B.C. is derived from cacao from the upper Amazon and supposedly domesticated by the Mokaya; however, their dating is more accurately placed at 1550 to 1400 B.C., and seems to overlap the Olmec, though their pottery was different leading archaeologists to claim they were a different culture. On the other hand, the Mixe-Zoque is a language family and not a cuture, that was spoken around the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico (Mesoamericanists’ Narrow Neck of Land).
    What seems more likely, is that the “Early Olmec” who are not considered to have “emerged” until about 1600 to 1500 B.C. on the San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan site near the coast on southeast Veracruz, were likely one people (the Nephites who went north in Hagoth’s ships? [Alma 63:6]) that have been given different names. In any event, the Early Olmec, are credited as the first Mesoamerican civilization and laid many of the foundations for the civilizations that followed.
The Olmec colossal heads are at least seventeen monumental stone representations of human heads sculpted from large basalt boulders, and date from at least before 900 BC and are a distinctive feature of the Olmec civilization
    The Olmec “colossal stone heads” each carved from basalt rock weighing as much as 30 tons procured from hundreds of miles away, are considered to be among ancient America’s most striking sculptures. The stone heads have been found at the three most significant Olmecs sites in Mexico (La Venta, San Lorenzo and Tres Zapotez). They were carved from huge basalt boulders, some quarried in the Tuxtlas Mountains; some from the basalt of Cerro Cintepec; others from basalt found on San Martin Volcano. All these heads range in height from five to eleven feet.
    The Olmec dominated Mesoamerica over a millennium before the Mayans (Guatemala and Yucatan) and over two millennium before the Aztecs (Mexico).
    One of the interesting things about the Olmec is that they were well-established tradesmen with a large network of established trade routes. However, around approximately 300 BC their civilization vanished, though Olmec influence as mentioned before can be found in vast amounts among Aztec and Mayan culture. Besides their seemingly mysterious disappearance some of the artifacts that they left behind are also the source of some lingering questions. As a fairly advanced culture they left behind thousands upon thousands of artifacts as well as large monuments including entire cities, which are still being explored.
In 1938, the American archaeologist Matthew Stirling was on an expedition in the jungles of Mexico. They had already  uncovered stone altars when they ran across a large piece of stone that proved to be a colossal head
    It wasn’t until ruins of an Olmec city were discovered that archaeologists began to put the pieces together. The ruins showed the Olmec were the first civilization to live in the area, the first to have an organized society, the first to create great works of art, and the first to build huge structures. Then, for some reason, about 2000 years ago, the Olmec abandoned their cities. They left behind their homes, their farms and their great works of art. No one knows why. The most likely reason is a drop in the food supply. Rather than starve, the people left. Of course, if that was what happened, we would find the Olmec existing somewhere else in Central America or North America around the time of Christ onward—which we do not.
Black arrows shows the Narrow Neck of Land (a vertical line between the arrows); Red Arrow: Vera Cruz state; Blue Arrow: Tabasco state; Green Arrow: Chiapas state in their Land Southward—all three states were the Olmec homeland—making it impossible for the Olmec to have been the Jaredites since the Jaredites did not settle in the Land Southward
    The problem with evaluating the Olmec lies in the Mesoamericanist theme that the Olmec were the Jaredites. However, as said earlier, these enigmatic people inhabited the tropical plains of today's Gulf Coast, including the states of Veracruz and Tabasco. However, it should be kept in mind that using the Mesoamericanists’ map of the Land of Promise overlaid onto Mesoamerica, while the state of Vera Cruz is in their Land Northward, the state of Tabasco is in their Land Southward, along with Chiapas—both claimed to be Olmec (Jaredite) homeland centers, which completely disagrees with the many statements in the scriptural record where it is said the Jaredites did not move into and settle in the Land Southward, but kept it as a preserve for hunting (Ether 10:21).
    Thus, according to the scriptural record, the Olmec were only in the Land Northward, and do not line up with the Mesoamericanists claim that the Olmec were the Jaredites. In fact, in the following map, it shows that the Olmec influence in settlement areas and cultures was fairly well distributed throughout what they claim is their Land Southward, a place the Olmec were never in, nor can it be suggested from the scriptural record that they had any influence over, or any interaction with, the Nephites or Lamanites, which controlled that Land Southward—at least five of the sites indicated (red arrow map below) were deep into Lamanite territory of the Land of Nephi.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Rise of Civilization in Peru—Maize (Corn)

Corn, or maize, is native to the Americas. When the Spanish arrived and saw the plant, they called it “corn,” which was the original English term for any cereal crop. In North America, its meaning has been restricted since the 1800s to maize, as it was shortened from “Indian corn.” The term Indian corn now refers specifically to multi-colored "field corn" (flint corn) cultivars (meaning selected and cultivated by humans). 
    Radiocarbon dating of maize (corn) in the Americas has always centered on Mexico. In fact, “the earliest physical evidence for domesticated maize, what some cultures call corn, dates to 8,700 years ago” (6,700 B.C.), according to a 2009 news release from the National Science Foundation.
According to Dolorest Piperno (left) archaeologist and staff scientist of the Smithsonian, "We found the remains of maize and squash in many contexts from the earliest occupation levels," said the senior scientist and curator of archaeobotany for the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. This report places maize domestication in Mexico about 1,500 years earlier than previously documented there, which is 1,200 years earlier than the next earliest dated evidence for maize in Panama, according to Anthony Ranere, Department of Anthropology at Temple University in Philadelphia.
    "This indicates these two crops were being routinely consumed nearly 9,000 years ago," Piperno added. She also said that phytolith and starch grain evidence allowed researchers to trace the dispersal of maize as a domesticated crop from its origin in or around the Xihuatoxtla Shelter, located in the Rio Balsas valley in the state of Guerrero, Mexico.
From there, according to the Smithsonian team, it reached Panama by 7,600 years ago (5600 B.C.) and shortly thereafter to Colombia and Ecuador, and to Uruguay by 4,600 years ago (2600 B.C) On the other hand, and evidently unknown to the Smithsonian, researchers in South America have found evidence of maize along the north coast of Peru dating to a much earlier date than 4,600 years ago—to a radiocarbon date of 7000 years ago, or 5000 B.C., while Piperno’s dates are dated through “cal BP,” meaning calibrated years before the present, which sounds official, but is based on dendrochronology (tree ring dates), since radiocarbon dating has been found to have “wiggles” in it (that is, scientists are finally acknowledging that the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, which is used to create radiocarbon dates, has not been consistent over time).
By way of further explanation, Before Present (BP) years is a time scale used mainly in geology and other scientific disciplines to specify when events in the past occurred (above). Because the "present" time changes, standard practice is to use 1 January 1950 as commencement date of the age scale, reflecting the fact that radiocarbon dating became practicable in the 1950s. The abbreviation "BP", with the same meaning, has also been interpreted as "Before Physics"; that is, before nuclear weapons testing artificially altered the proportion of the carbon isotopes in the atmosphere, making dating after that time likely to be unreliable (it is interesting that science, while recognizing that nuclear testing has effected the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, that the Creation, Flood and crucifixion events are ignored, each of which would have altered the amount of carbon-12 to carbon-14 in the atmosphere and skewed testing results).
    To compensate for actual calendar dates, like those figured in the Norte Chico dating, the “cal BP” is based on an even more questionable tree ring dating system that is fraught with problems of its own—one of which is that it has been found that a tree can have up to five separate rings per year, and that these extra rings are often indistinguishable, even under the microscope, from annual rings.
    Another problem with the Mexico Xihuatoxtla Shelter discovery is that the researchers found that the maize they discovered had already been domesticated—that is, these samples would not be the earliest existence of domesticated corn. "We did not find evidence for the earliest stages in the domestication process," said Ranere. "We need to find more ancient deposits in order to document the beginning of the process."
    So where were these “earliest” domestication processes achieved? In Mexico, Mesoamerica, or in Andean South America?
Workers, under the direction of Field Museum curator Archaeologist Jonathan Haas, search for corn residue in Caral-Supe and Norte Chico. The work was long and laborious, but the results were outstanding;
Left: Dr. Haas digging in a trash midden at Caballete in Norte Chico; Right: Map showing Norte Chico in relation to Lima, Peru and the northwest of South America
    Since the early 21st century, the area of Norte Chico along the northern west coast of Peru has been established as the oldest known civilization in the Americas and one of the six sites where civilization originated independently in the ancient world (see the earlier post, “The Earliest Americans—Norte Chico,” Thursday, March 5, 2015).
    The question facing Haas and his team was whether or not maize (corn) was the key to the rise of early civilization in Peru? For years, archaeologists have debated the economic basis for the rise of civilization in the Andean region of Peru. The prevailing theory advanced the notion that the development and consumption of marine resources was the primary mover. Now, however, a team of research scientists have found evidence to dispel that theory.
A 5000-year-old corncob found at a pyramid at the ancient Peruvian site of Caral-Supe, which appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Haas’ team of researchers examined and evaluated ancient microscopic residues of maize in the form of pollen, starch grains and phytoliths (plant silica bodies) found in soil, on stone tools, and in coprolites from ancient sites, using 212 instances where Carbon-14 dates were obtained. They focused on 13 desert valley sites of Pativilca and Fortaleza, north of Lima (see map), where they found broad botanical evidence that indicated extensive production, processing and consumption of maize between 3000 and 1800 B.C. The two most extensively studied sites were Caballete, about six miles inland from the Pacific Ocean and consisting of six large platform mounds arranged in a “U” shape, and the site of Huaricanga, about 14 miles inland, featuring one large mound and several smaller mounds. They targeted residences, trash pits, ceremonial rooms, and campsites, but most of the samples were taken from trash pits of residences.
    Though very little evidence of corn consumption had been found in Peru dating back to the time of Norte Chico, Haas and his colleagues figured these people just had to be eating corn. So they decided to look harder. First, they searched archaeological sites north of Lima for proof that the ancient Peruvians had been growing corn. They found lots of old maize pollen. Then, they went looking for pollen on the stone tools the residents of Norte Chico used to cook. They looked under the microscope, and "lo and behold, the large majority of the tools are being used to process maize," Haas remarked.
    Finally, they looked in the fossilized human midden and found anchovy bones—and lots of corn starch. Of 126 soil samples analyzed, 61 contained Z. mays pollen, consistent with the percentage of maize pollen found in pollen analyses from sites in other parts of the world where maize is a major crop and constitutes the primary source of calories in the diet.
    Nor is that all—it turns out that sweet potatoes were the second most popular carbohydrate, and guava the most popular source of sugar. Haas’ report shows that "Rather than being a maritime-based society, Chico Norte was an agriculturally based society.” This means that  South America falls in line with the rest of the civilizations of the world.
    Prior to this latest discovery about corn, it was generally accepted by historians that maize was domesticated in the Tehuacan Valley of Mexico. The Olmecs and Mayans cultivated it in numerous varieties throughout Mesoamerica, cooked, ground or processed through nixtamalization. Beginning about 2500 BC, the crop spread through much of the Americas. The region developed a trade network based on surplus and varieties of maize crops. However, as can now be seen, corn was being grown in the coastal region of Chico Norte in South America as early as 5000 B.C. (See the earlier post, “The Earliest Americans—Caballete,” Friday, March 6, 2015 for some of the details of this find).

Top: Morado (cantena) Purple Maize, grows in both coastal and highland areas, and has recently been found to have unusually high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also made into Peru’s famous purple corn drink Chica Morada, which is a “powerhouse of nutrition”; Bottom: Peru grows Andean cobs with especially large kernels
    While it might be debated further, it would appear from unadjusted radiocarbon dates that maize or corn originated in Mexico; however, the question arises that since there were no development sites before the Olmec (1500 B.C.) how did that occur? According to Olmec histories, “Somewhere around 1000 BC, the first of Mexico's ancient civilizations, the Olmecs (or XI, called the “Mother Civilization of the Americas”), though they were not on the scene until at the earliest 1500 B.C. or the latest 1000 B.C., either date is long after those radiocarbon dates of Andean South America. The Olmec established themselves in what are now the states of Veracruz and Tabasco. In their wake came the Xicalancas, Teotihuacan, the Zapotecs and Mixtecs of Monte Alban, the Otomies, Tepanecs, Maya of Yucatan, the Toltecs, Aztecs, and dozens of smaller, citied groups."

Monday, April 20, 2015

Rise of Civilization in Peru—Sweet Potato – Part II

Continuing from the last post with the question about how the Sweet Potato arrived in South America and Polynesia. 
Today, based on radiocarbon dates, there is no question that the Sweet Potato was domesticated in the highlands of Peru about 8000 years ago, some 3000 years before it was found in Central America. There is also no question today that there was definite contact between South America and Polynesia long before the Europeans arrived in the Western Hemisphere.
    In fact, as stated previously, Andean Peru has more indigenous potato species and varieties than anywhere else on earth, with upwards of 4000 such different tubers. There can be really no question, either from the sheer number of indigenous varieties and the radiocarbon-dating, as well as the DNA sampling, that the potato and the Sweet Potato originated in the Andean highlands.
    This, then, leaves us with the question as to how they arrived in Polynesia. As has been shown here in the past, there are those in archaeology and anthropology who want to insist that man entered South America once the Panama Isthmus rose out of the water to connect with South America—these are the same who claim man entered the Western Hemisphere over a so-called Siberian Land Bridge (see previous posts on this subject).
    The point is, and has been shown in the earlier series on radiocarbon dating and Libby’s Carbon-14 clock, since the atmosphere is not in equilibrium according to every test to which it has been subject, then we need to look elsewhere for how the Western Hemisphere, and specifically South America could have been inhabited within the much shorter time frame involved with an Earth where the atmosphere has not yet reached equilibrium, less than 30,000 years of age.
    The Book of Mormon, of course, answers that question as well as how the tuber got to Polynesia. Lehi settled in Andean South America, the Nephites (and probably the Jaredites before them) domesticated the potato and the Sweet Potato, and Nephites in Hagoth’s ship that sailed westward (or to an unknown destination) carried the potato into the drift currents that took the ship out and down to Polynesia—to have gone in the opposite direction would not have made much sense (See the recent post “Personal Bias Drives Science,” Saturday, February 28, 2015).
While most voyages of antiquity were direct, and followed winds and currents, the Polynesians would have had to sail south from Fiji/Tonga/Samoa area far below New Zealand to pick up the Southern Ocean to take them eastward to South America on the West Wind Drift and the Prevailing Westerlies, then sail up the coast to Peru on the Humboldt Current, pick up the Sweet Potato, then continue on to around Ecuador to pick up the westward flowing currents that would take them back to the Marquesas Islands in Polynesia—an overall voyage of 7100 miles of open ocean and a 10,673 mile to Peru before returning home—another 7000 miles (4100) to land, then across the islands from Marquesas, to Tahiti to Cook and then Tonga, etc.
    To consider that they sailed such a path south to the Southern Ocean, then across to South America, then up the coast to Peru, picked up the Sweet Potato, then sailed out into the current and back down to Polynesia is both unsound, and cannot be verified by any Polynesian artifacts found in South America, though numerous South American artifacts are found throughout Polynesia.
    So how did the Sweet Potato get to Polynesia?
    We have the legendary Norwegian explorer and Anthropologist, Thor Heyerdahl’s drift voyage in Kon-Tiki to thank for the answer to this. On the 28th of April 1947, Heyerdahl left his wife and children behind to cross the Pacific Ocean on a balsa wood raft with five other crew members. His purpose was a simple one, to show that people from Peru sailed to and had contact with Polynesia instead of the then assumed other way around.
    The crew did not pack any modern technology on board of the raft, except for a simple radio, and were accompanied by only each other and a parrot—there were no chase vessels, helicopters, GPS or other assistance. With the world media watching, the crew navigated the Kon-Tiki across the Pacific Ocean using the stars and being driven by the currents and wind.
The Kon-Tiki voyage from Peru to the Raroia Islands in Polynesia—4300 miles in 101 days, sailing with the currents and winds
    The Kon-Tiki expedition was funded by private loans, along with donations of equipment from the U.S. Army. Heyerdahl and his small team went to Peru, where, with the help of dockyard facilities provided by the Peruvian authorities, they constructed the raft out of balsa logs and other native materials in an indigenous style as recorded in illustrations by Spanish conquistadors. The trip began on April 28, 1947.
    While taking on thunderstorms, sharks and the dangers of the wide open sea, these six men were pitted against nature trying to get their raft across to the Polynesian shore. After gambling all he had, including his marriage, Heyerdahl was determined to succeed. Heyerdahl and five companions sailed the raft for 101 days over 4,300 miles across the Pacific Ocean before reaching a reef at Raroia in the Tuamotu Islands on August 7, 1947. The crew made successful landfall and all returned safely.
Crew of the Kon-Tiki posing aboard their raft before leaving Callao, Peru, to sail northward to the Bay of Guayaquil and pick up the westward flowing current out into the Pacific and down to Polynesia
    His documentary of the journey won him an Oscar in 1951 and is the only Norwegian movie to have won an Oscar to date. The book Heyerdahl wrote about the Kon-Tiki expedition was translated into 70 languages and has sold over 50 million copies throughout the entire world. The important point of it all from a scientific viewpoint is that winds and currents move westward across the Pacific from Peru and Ecuador along the South Pacific Gyre and curve down into Polynesia. No currents from Polynesia move eastward toward South America.
    Since there is no question that the Sweet Potato was domesticated in the Peruvian highlands about 8000 years ago, and any coastal voyage from this area would take a vessel directly to Polynesia, one can only wonder why anthropologists ignore this fact and so many insist the Polynesians made contact with South America and returned home to Polynesia with the Sweet Potato. At one time anthropologists tried to claim that the Sweet Potato originated in Polynesia and made its way to South America, but recent DNA tests have been so important, showing without a doubt where the Sweet Potato originated—in Andean South America! From there it traveled westward across the Pacific to Polynesia!