Thursday, April 7, 2011

What Became of the Narrow Neck of Land Part I

There seems to be some disagreement about the Narrow Neck of Land before and after the destruction shown in 3 Nephi chapters 8 and 9.

Prior to this event, there was a narrow or small neck between the Land Northward and the Land Southward (Alma 22:32) that separated these two lands and was all that kept the Land Southward from being completely surrounded by water. This small or narrow neck might also be called a land bridge, that is, a bridge of land that connected the two lands with the sea to either side, narrow enough for a Nephite to walk across it in a day and a half—a distance of about 25-30 miles.

Within this land bridge or narrow neck, was a pass or passage that gave egress from the Land Southward to the Land Northward. Evidently, the two terms, “neck of land” and “narrow pass” are used in the correct terminology—the former to describe the geography and the latter to describe movement. That is, the land was configured with a narrow neck between the Land Southward and the Land Northward, and for people to move between these two lands through the narrow neck, they did so within a pass or passage.

There are six scriptural verses that mention this neck of land and the pass within it, and before the destruction mentioned in 3 Nephi, the geography of the area, that is the narrow or small “neck of land” is described (Alma 22:32; 63:5). In addition, before the destruction, the “narrow pass” is also mentioned (Alma 50:34; 52:9). But after the destruction, the geological term “narrow neck” or “small neck” is not mentioned, but the pass is mentioned (Mormon 2:29; 3:5).

This might suggest that whatever happened in the area of the narrow neck during the destruction, afterward it was no longer a narrow neck of land, though the pass remained. There may be other explanations, but the one stated below as occurred in the Andean area of South America seems to fit these descriptions perfectly.

As has been mentioned in numerous posts and described in great detail in “Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica,” the area east of the present day Andes was under water, and the Andes Mountains themselves had not yet been raised or uplifted. This means that at the area of the Bay of Guayaquil in southern Ecuador near the border with Peru, the area between the east shore of the bay and the western shore of the Atlantic Ocean was about 26 to 28 miles wide, and provided a “narrow neck of land” between Peru and northern Chile (Land Southward) and Ecuador and southern Colombia (Land Northward). And within this narrow neck is a pass, referred to in later times by the Inca as the Huayna Capac Pass. This pass presently runs from the edge of the Andes across the eastern area of the Bay of Guayaquil and into the land north. It was the only path moving foot traffic north and south on the east of the bay.

In this scenario, before the Andes came up, prior to the destruction mentioned in 3 Nephi, the pass provided a way north and south through the narrow neck of land that existed between the Bay of Guayaquil and the east sea (Atlantic Ocean that once covered the entire Amazon flood plain and much of eastern South America. Then, when the Andes jutted up at the crucifixion of Christ when there would be “great tempests, and there shall be many mountains laid low, like unto a valley, and there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great” (Helaman 14:23), the narrow neck of land no longer spanned from bay to ocean (sea to sea), but then (as now) spanned the land bridge between the bay and the Andes (from the east to the west sea).

In Mormon’s time, the narrow pass was still the strategic access point for travelers going into the land northward, as much for Mormon’s defending army around A.D. 350 as it had been in Morianton’s day more than four hundred years before when “Moroni sent an army, with their camp, to head the people of Morianton, to stop their flight into the land northward. And it came to pass that they did not head them until they had come to the borders of the land Desolation; and there they did head them, by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east” (Alma 50:33–34).

Notice, that in Mormon’s day, he describes this same pass, but does not say it had seas on both sides: “And it came to pass that I did cause my people that they should gather themselves together at the land Desolation, to a city which was in the borders, by the narrow pass which led into the land southward” (Mormon 3:5).

Thus, we can see that though there was some extensive changes surrounding the narrow neck of land, the pass still remained. Mormon knew what the narrow neck was like before the destruction, and knew what it was like after the destruction, and his language and wordage is consistent with that prior and present knowledge.

We might also add that even the pass might have changed dramatically, though still providing access through it between the two lands. The photos below show how that might be:

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