Friday, February 11, 2011

Problems With Malay Theory Part IV

Continuing with Ralph Olsen’s claim that the Malay Peninsula is the Land of Promise, he cites a 4,000 mile trip across the Indian Ocean to Indonesia. However, such a voyage would not be 4000 miles as he claims, but 5300 miles from the Arabian coast, around India and Sri Lanka (Ceylon), to the southern tip of Burma, past the Mouths of the Irrawaddy, and into the Andaman Sea, then 1000 miles along the Malay coast to the southern part of the peninsula to where the Andaman Sea narrows into the Strait of Malacca from an 80 mile width between Malay and Sumatra, to 40 miles at Kelang and 8 miles just beyond.

To get from the Bay of Bengal and into the Andaman Sea and the Malay Peninsula, there are only four approaches through the Andaman and Nicobar Islands: 1) the Preparis channels, 2) the Coco Channel, 3) the Ten Degree channel and 4) the Great channel. The simplest and shortest route with a “coastal hugging voyage” from Arabia, would be through the northern most channel, the Preparis, which splits around the Preparis Island and enters the Andaman Sea. However, as stated, this means sailing down the Malay peninsula for 1000 miles to get to the area of “the west sea south” where Lehi landed according to Mormon.

First of all, it makes no sense to travel such a route. The entire distance around India, about 2500 miles, is along coastal areas that were well populated in 600 B.C. Traders plied these waters coming from Arabia to Indonesia and from China to Somalia and the Mediterranean.

There is no way this voyage and landing, in an area that had been inhabited, according to archaeologists, for thousands of years before Lehi would have landed, could have been kept form the knowledge of other nations. As Lehi said, “it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance” (2 Nephi 1:8).
The Ancient Silk Road. Blue lines are the sea routes and red lines the overland routes

In addition, this coastal route (the only type of route that could be sailed in 600 B.C. because of the weakness and shallow bottom of ship construction) was along what became known as the Silk Road. The Silk Routes, collectively known as the "Silk Road," were important paths for cultural, commercial and technological exchange between traders, merchants pilgrims, missionaries, soldiers, nomads, and urban dwellers from Ancient China, Ancient India, Ancient Tibet, the Persian Empire and Mediterranean countries for more than 3,000 years, beginning in the Han Dynasty that connected the land routes from China across Asia to the Mediterranean. Before that, it was the sea route for a thousand years that sailed the coastal waters from China to Java to India to Somalia and the Mediterranean.

The reason why these trade routes existed was because sailors would not sail out beyond the sight of land, their vessels were unable to handle deep sea wave turbulence and they were shallow bottomed for easy maneuverability in close to land. In addtion, most vessels of that era and for many centuries afterward, were propelled in coastal areas by oars. Lastly, the currents and winds simply would not allow sailing out into deep water from west to east across the Indian Ocean.

The currents coming out of the east first form around Sri Lanka in November and are initially fed by the equatorward East India Coastal Current, with the rest of the westward current in the southern bay appearing later. In its mature phase during December–March, this current flows westward across the southern bay; it divides into two branches in the Arabian Sea, one branch flowing westward, the other turning around the Lakshadweep high (a sea-level high off southwest India) to flow into the poleward West India Coastal Current. This westward current is primarily a geostrophic current, with Ekman drift modulating it. The eastward flowing current first appears in the southern bay during May. In its mature phase, which peaks with the summer monsoon in July, the current in the Arabian Sea is a continuation of the Somali Current and the coastal current off Oman, which flows eastward and southeastward across the Arabian Sea and around the Lakshadweep low (a sea-level low off southwest India), eastward south of Sri Lanka, and into the Bay of Bengal. The strong winds during the summer monsoon ensure that Ekman drift dominates at the surface, leading to a more complex vertical structure in the currents

Thus, the currents off the coastal waters flow in the opposite direction than toward the Malay Peninsula, and as an earlier drawing showed in these posts, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands block any currents moving eastward and turns them back toward the coast in the northern gyre. In addition, any vessel sailing along the coastal waters, especially one so different as Nephi’s ship which was built “not after the manner of men” (1 Nephi 18:2), would have drawn attention from the numerous settlements and trading ships moving in those waters.

(See the next post, “Problems With Malay Theory Part V,” to see how the Malay Peninsula was settled and by whom)

1 comment:

  1. "There is no way this voyage and landing, in an area that had been inhabited, according to archaeologists, for thousands of years before Lehi" ... India, yes, but there is very little evidence of advanced human settlement on the Malay Peninsula at that time. Indian traders didn't arrive until around 5th century AD.