Friday, July 29, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II Metallurgy

Besides the Land of Promise location matching scriptural clues such as winds and currents moving Nephi’s ship that was “driven forth before the wind,” the temperature and climate needed to grow seeds from Jerusalem exceedingly and provide an abundant climate, locating ore deposits in abundance and contain gold, silver and copper in a single unit, finding two unknown animals that were as “useful to man” as the elephant, two unknown grains on a par with corn, wheat and barley, and natural herbs to cure deadly fever, roads, buildings, resorts, area of many waters, volcanoes and earthquakes, fortified walls, slings used as weapons, and coins, there are other clues in the scriptural record that also needs to be found in the Land of Promise.

One of these would be the numerous metallurgical comments made in the scriptural record, from the Jaredites “they did work in all manner of ore, and they did make gold, and silver, and iron, and brass, and all manner of metals; and they did dig it out of the earth; wherefore they did cast up mighty heaps of earth to get ore, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of copper. And they did work all manner of fine work” (Ether 10:23) to Nephi taught his people “to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores (2 Nephi 5:15) to Mosiah “and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind” (Mosiah 4:19) and to Helaman “they became exceedingly rich, both the Lamanites and the Nephites; and they did have an exceeding plenty of gold, and of silver, and of all manner of precious metals, both in the land south and in the land north” (Helaman 6:9) and to the disciple Nephi “and their gold, and their silver, and all their precious things” (3 Nephi 6:2).

Obviously, the smelting of ore, the working of precious metals, the use of iron, steel and other metals described suggest an advanced knowledge of such workings. And just as obviously, we should find in the area of the Land of Promise a rich heritage in metallurgy.

It should be noted, however, that metallurgy did not exist in Mesoamerica during B.C. times. In fact, the American Anthropologist states that “Metallurgy first appeared in Mesoamerica at about A.D. 800, introduced via a maritime route from Central and South America into West Mexico. During the initial period of the establishment of the technology (approximately A.D. 800 to between A.D. 1200 and 1300) technical links were closest with the metallurgies of Ecuador, Colombia, and lower Central America. During the second period of West Mexican metallurgy (A.D. 1200–1300 to the Spanish invasion) new elements from these same regional metallurgies were introduced, in addition to technical components from the metallurgy of southern Peru. Although the roots of West Mexican metallurgy lay in the metallurgies to the south, the elements that had been introduced from those areas were reinterpreted and transformed, resulting in the development of a technically original, highly inventive regional technology in West Mexico.”

As stated, metallurgy was very extensive in the area of Peru and Ecuador, which made up the bulk of the Land of Promise, from the Land of Nephi to the Land Northward. According to the MIT Anthropology-Archaeology Section and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, “the rich development of metallurgical technology that arose and was sustained in the New World prior to the Spanish invasion in the 16th century took place in the Andean zone of western South America in the area which is today, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Colombia. One of those areas, Cerro de Pasco in the Peruvian Andes, has a record of evolving extractive metallurgy covering at least 1400 years before the Inca, as shown by lake sediment. Even today, this area is an important mining center, and at one time one of the richest silver producing areas—along with lead, zinc, and copper. In fact, the northern Andes is considered a unique gold-rich area that has been exploited long before Columbus reached the Western World.

The Journal of Field Archaeology lists scores of ancient including mines, ore-processing areas, and smelting installations indicating a level of sophistication of Andean metallurgy not previously recognized by most archaeologists. Many scholars have claimed that the Moche metalwork, especially that found in the north Peruvian site of Loma Negra, was the finest produced by Per-Columbian smiths of the central Andes in terms of its technological sophistication, its exquisite craftsmanship and its beauty. In addition, copper smelting had a lengthy history in the Atacama region of northern Chile prior to the Spanish Conquest, specifically that of the Ramaditas site in the Guatacondo Valley in northern Chile date to the first centuries B.C.

Some of the open pit mines are so huge that the gigantic ore truck (left) not only dwarfs the man in blue in the lower right, but is itself dwarfed inside the open pit mine (right) where the red arrow points to this same ore truck

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II Coins & Bartering

Many uninformed people today believe that bartering was the only real method of interchange anciently, that there were no need for money or “coins,” and that coins themselves as money did not occur until about 500 years ago, around the time of the Spanish conquistadors.

The simple fact is, that coins as money and having value in and of themselves, have existed for well over two thousand years. Mesoamerican and Great Lakes Theorists do not like to hear this and do all they can to convince others of their theories by showing that coins did not exist as such anciently, and that none should be found in their area of the Land of Promise.

However, the simple fact is, that coins AND bartering have existed for more than two thousand years, and often side-by-side. That is, bartering was used among local groups of a village or small area, but when trading with outside groups, other countries, other peoples, only gold and silver were acceptable means of exchange. Therefore, coins in the form of gold or silver were used ever since man traded with other areas, other peoples, and other countries. Yet, bartering was also necessary since gold and silver were very scarce in most areas, and coins were hard to come by for most people.

Even as late as the 17th century, people in the eastern United States, where gold and silver was not to be found, the minting of coins was rare for the precious metals needed were scarce and not to be found in the ground.

In fact, when the early settlements in America traded with England, they had to use silver or gold for they could not barter for trade. And since gold and silver were non-existent in eastern America, they resorted to using Spanish gold, called real dea ocho, or eight real coin (Eight Reals), or more loosely, pieces of eight, because the coin could be easily divided into eight parts—these were minted in the New World mints of Mexico City, Potosi, Bolivia, and Lima, Peru. These coins were brought out of Mexico, across the wilderness, mountains and through unfriendly lands to get to the eastern seaboard, making their value quite costly.

At that time, the Spanish gold, referred to as dollars by the Americans, a word taken from the Dutch daalder, a coin made of silver from the famous Joachimsthaler (Joachim Valley) silver mines. Coins made from this silver were known to be very pure and therefore soon became extremely popular as an export currency throughout Europe.

By the 17th century, Holland had become a world trade power with its own “thaler,” a silver coin with a lion on it, which they called the leeuwendaalder, changing the “thaler” into “daalder.” When the Dutch colonized the island of Manhattan and founded the New Netherland Colony, they called the town New Amsterdam (now New York). They brought their daalder with them, which became the most popular trading currency on the island.

Not only did the Dutch introduce daalder (dollar) into the English lexicon, but also gave us cookie, coleslaw, show, pump, skate, trigger and Yankee, among many others.

At this time, as had been happening in other areas of the world for centuries, locals bartered for services, since coins were very scarce. It was not that coins on a monetary system did not exist, only that they were scarce, as they always were in new colonies, largely rural areas, and where gold and silver were even more scarce from which coins could be made.

As mentioned above, the Great Lakes, New England, eastern U.S. did not have deposits of gold and silver and had to import or trade for such precious metals. So coins were scarce and difficult to obtain, so the earlier colonists bartered with products and services. But this should not be confused then, or in much earlier times, with the system of bartering in existence because there was no monetary system.

As has been pointed out in earlier posts, coins of value were struck and minted since B.C times, and though their value was dependent upon the precious metal contained in the coin, the same held true in the United States, and did until the 1971 “Nixon Shock,” when U.S. currency was no longer backed up by gold and silver. Between 1965 and 1981, the US. Dollar lost two thirds of its value, and from the original 1792, the U.S. dollar was worth a full dollar, and stayed pretty close to that value through 1900, when it was worth .96¢, but today, it is worth a miserable .03¢.

It is not that coins lost value because they became worn or chipped, etc., (which was true in some exchanges), but that the valuing of coins was consistently changed, even in the B.C. time of the Roman denarius, which was devalued consistently because of the amount of gold (grains) used in its manufacturer from time to time--a problem that beset coinage from earliest times and still exists, especially in third-world countries, today.

Roman Denarius coins. Left: minted in 211 B.C., Right: minted in 207 B.C. The coin on the right was found in England, and is the oldest Roman coin uncovered there

The point is, no amount of disingenuous reasoning can change the fact that metallurgy was not found until after the time of Christ in the Mesoamerican area, and not at all beyond copper usage in the Great Lakes area until far later, and no ancient pre-Columbian coins have been found in either location. In Peru, however, metallurgy dates to around 2000 B.C., and pre-Columbian coins have been found in the ground there.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II More Nephite Gold & Coins

As has been pointed out in this series on coins, in ancient times, pieces of gold and silver were widely used in trade. However without standardized coinage, the weight and purity of the metal had to be tested every time it changed hands. By 650 BC, inhabitants on the Greek island of Lydia were using bean-shaped lumps of electrum, a natural alloy of gold and silver, stamped with official symbols indicating weight and purity.

By 550 BC, the practice of striking coins was established in all the important trading cities throughout the known world; however, no coins, or even signs of metallurgy, has ever been found in Mesoamerica before the Christian era. On the other hand, gold coins have been found in the Andean area dating into B.C. times. The problem is in identifying what is found against what is believed.

First of all, when it comes to ancient coins, we are used to seeing ancient Greek and Roman coins that invariably had the head of an emperor, leader, hero, god or animal on them..

However, ancient coins, not so well known, also had other designs—some complex, some very simple and seldom make the color pages of coin brochures, let alone be in the public conscience—yet they were ancient coins issued by countries or states.

In addition, many ancient coins outside of the Greek and Roman areas of influence, were mere designs some without apparent meaning or symbolism. These are sometimes the hardest to identify, frequently thought of as ornaments hung around the neck, fastened to cloaks, or symbols of private families, etc. However, they were issued coins of an ancient era.

The first three coins from the left are ancient coins traded on the open market today, some dating to very ancient times. In fact, the coin in the middle was an electrum (gold and silver ore) coin struck in Ionia about the time Lehi left Jerusalem. The two coins on the right of very similar simplicity and without the typical Greek or Roman type heads or writing, were found in pre-Columbian Peru, and date to ancient metallurgic times.

Most very early coinage was stamped or struck on electrum, a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver, with trace amount of copper. It is interesting that in the area of the Andes, gold, silver and copper occur naturally in single ore deposits. It is also interesting that when Nephi wrote of the ore he found in the Land of Promise, he stated that “We did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper” (1 Nephi 18:25). The use of the word both, followed by three items typifies the ore compoun was made up of gold and silver as precious metals, or a single type of item, and copper as a non-precious metal, or a second item. Thus, both (gold and silver) and (copper) ore found with a single ore—what today is known as electrum--and abundantly found in the Andean area of South America, but not at all in Guatemala according to the USGS.

This electrum was called “gold” or “white gold” by the ancient Greeks, as opposed to “refined gold.” Anciently, electrum was used in the Old Kingdom Egypt as an exterior coating to the pyramidions (capstone) atop the ancient pyramids and obelisks, for the making of drinking vessels, and coins.

However, much later in Peru, by the time of the Inca, natural electrum in ore was the property of the Emperor, and refined into the gold that was cast in sheets for wall decoration and murals, and ornamental items, such as large plates, animal molds, table service and finely crafted decorations of all kinds. Since the Emperor held all things as his own, and the people were taken care of by The Inca, it is doubtful any coins were necessary or used for any purpose.

The point to all of this, is that while gold and silver coins were introduced by Mormon in the 11th chapter of Alma, and that gold, silver and copper were abundant in the Andean area, and that ancient coins were found there, it is just another example of matching the Land of Promise location to all points mentioned in the scriptural record.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II Nephite Gold & Coins

In the last several posts, while discussing the additional clues in the scriptural record that should accompany any location for the Land of Promise, we have discussed the use of gold and silver coinage of the Nephites, and the over-abundance of gold, silver and copper in the both the Land of Promise and the Andean area of South America. In fact the existence of gold, silver, copper and other precious metals in the Andean area of South America, especially northern Chile and Peru, is remarkable in its quantity and availability.

Peru alone contains vast quantities of gold, silver, copper iron ore, mercury, vanadium, zinc, and lead, and is among the largest producers of silver, copper, zinc, and lead in the world. The Atacama Desert region in the south holds huge deposits of nitrate, as well as gold, silver and copper.

Peru's mining industry contributes significantly to the country's economy and is a major producer of gold—the largest in Latin America, and the 5th largest gold-producing country in the world, and still growing. Along with gold, Peruvian mines include silver, tin, copper, lead and zinc. Peru's mineral production is based on the growth of its gold sector, and is also the world’s most prolific source of mineral specimens, producing world-class minerals with pyrite specimen production, in both quantity and quality, exceeding any other source in the world. Nearly every mineral dealer and every major mineral museum in the world has at least some superb Peruvian specimens.

The “Pierina,” an open pit gold mine in central Peru, has produced 3.6 million ounces of gold in the first ten years of operation, while the “Yanacocha” in northern Peru has produced over $7 billion in gold. The “Antamina” copper mine deposit, including zinc, silver, lead, molybdenum and bismuth mineralization, is considered the largest undeveloped copper/zinc ore body in the world, and “Cerro de Pasco,” one of the highest cities in the world, and is noted for its silver mines, becoming one of the world's richest silver producing areas after silver was discovered there in the early 1600s. When silver deposits declined late in the 19th century, the exploitation of other metals, chiefly copper, again made Cerro de Pasco Peru's leading mining center. Its products include bismuth, zinc, lead, and gold. And from the nearby “Minasraga” mines comes about 80% of the world's supply of rare vanadium, which is used mainly to produce certain steel alloys.

These and many other mining operations in Peru suggests that when Nephi said, twenty years after reaching the Land of Promise, “And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper,” he knew what he was talking about. And in addition, we should find a very high degree of skill in the ancient area occupied by the Nephites, for the Lord taught Nephi who, in turn, taught his people how to work the metals (1 Nephi 18:3; 2 Nephi 5:15).

As many archaeologists have recorded: “As an example of almost incredible skill we may mention that copper objects were sometimes welded in ancient Peru...another remarkable skill was exhibited by the silversmiths and goldsmiths who could beat out of a solid block of metal a beaker some eight inches deep and three inches in diameter without breaking it.”

The whole art of cire-perdue casting (literally “lost wax”) was well understood, and the most complex forms were cast by this technique in both gold and bronze, and the quality of preciousness attributed to these metals was something quite different in Peru from what is in the civilized world of today.

Obviously, the quantity of metal was quite considerable, and some archaeologists think that the long-continued use of charcoal for smelting by this method accounted for the greater part of the deforestation of the Andes. In addition, it is well understood that metallurgy was well developed more than a thousand years before the time of the Incas, and the rate of production was high from the beginning, and that the present evidence shows that ancient "gold metallurgy originated in the northern Andes of Peru, Ecuador, and even Colombia

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II Nephite Gold & Coins

In the last three posts we covered the fact that the Nephite monetary system as described in the 11th chapter of Alma, was, indeed, made up of gold and silver coins, rather than simply measures of grain as Mesoamerican Theorists have claimed.

It should also be noted, that in order to strike or mint coins of gold and silver, the Nephite economy had to have had ample gold and silver to back up such a coinage and for its use in striking and minting coins.

The scriptural record tells us that the Land of Promise had ample ore, and that they minted precious metals. In the very beginning, Through the first 500 years, Nephi, Jacob, Jarom and Alma mention such activity.

"And we did find upon the promised land...all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper." (1 Nephi 18:25) "And I did teach my people to work in all manner of...precious ores which were in great abundance." (2 Nephi 5:15) "...many of you have begun to search for gold, and for silver, and for all manner of precious ores, in the which this land, which is a land of promise unto you and to your seed, doth abound most plentiful." (Jacob 2:12) "...became exceeding rich in gold, and in silver, and in precious things...and in fine workmanship in wood, in building, and in machinery, and also in iron and copper and brass and steel, making all manner of tools of every kind." (Jarom 1:8) "They began to be exceeding rich, having abundance of all things...of gold, and of silver, and of precious things" (Alma 1:29).

Obviously, the Land of Promise had enormous stores of gold, silver and copper—thus, today, we should show ample evidence of this in any area claimed to be the Land of Promise. And this is quite evident in the Andean area of Chile, Peru and Ecuador.

Archaeology evidence shows that such precious ores were first used in the Northern Andes in B.C. times and spread outward from there, and eventually went northward into Central America, somewhere after the time of Christ. The first American people to experiment extensively with metal and develop a distinctive style of working with it lived around a site called Chavin de Huantar in Peru (near present-day Huanuco). As evidence of this, the 16th Century Peruvian Inca Garcilasso de la Vega, whose mother was an Inca Princess and father a Spanish Captain, wrote regarding this:

“In many of the palaces and temples, they used molten lead, silver, and gold instead of mortar. They plated the temples of the Sun and royal palaces with gold, and put in them many figures of men and women; of birds of the air and water; of wild animals, such as tigers, bears, lions, foxes, dogs, cats, deer, huanacus, and vicunas, and of domestic llamas, all of gold and silver, worked in imitation of nature. They did not have tapestry for the walls of the king's palace because they were covered with gold and silver. They also had a vast store of cloaks and belts interwoven with gold wire.”

The early Spaniards who traveled around the Andes wrote of magnificent stores and uses of gold, silver and copper. They saw “treasures of gold and emeralds were discovered in Ecuador and their craftsmen became exceedingly skilled in fashioning fine ornaments of gold. Their chieftans were decked magnificently with collars, breastplates and ornaments of gold.”

“There was an abundance of gold, copper and silver in the mountains accessible even to primitive miners with stone tools, and gold was easily washed out from the streambeds.” And again, “The Andean mountains in Pizarro's time had a notable tradition of gold working and many spectacular gold objects have been found in tombs throughout the area.”

Archaeologists have found that the Peruvians practiced a more advanced technology than those of Mesoamerica in mastery of gold, silver, copper, and alloy metallurgy, with pre-Inca smiths in Peru working gold, silver, and copper, and demonstrating a very fine workmanship.

As one archaeologist has stated: “The level of metallurgy achieved in Peru did not have a long stage of development. Where it took the Sumerians, Canaanites, Egyptians and Semites nearly 4000 years to attain this level of skilled artisan, there is nothing under the surface of the ground in ancient Peru to indicate there was any long age of development and progress leading up to the age of the skilled artisans, which the Peruvians attained.”

This actually frustrates archaeologists who like to find development stages of ancient civilizations, but should buoy the spirits of those who understand that the ancient inhabitants of this land came from Jerusalem as Nephi stated. As a result, the Nephites showed up in South America with a knowledge of metallurgy and working in precious metals already achieved.

The beginning of such metallurgical work in Peru is dated by archaeologists between 900 and 200 B.C., while Metallurgy in Mesoamerica is found to have begun around the Time of Christ, and some archaeologists claim as late as 200 A.D. to 800 A.D.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II Third of Nephite Coins

In the last two posts we covered the fact that the Nephite monetary system as described in the 11th chapter of Alma, was, indeed, made up of gold and silver coins, and that contrary to a FARMS article on the subject, coins have been used for exchange over weights since late B.C. times.

In addition, there are other errors in the FARMS article such as: “The fact that there were no coins in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica fits quite nicely with the Book of Mormon, which mentions weights rather than coins as money."

This error in understanding Mormon’s writing comes from the two verses within his explanation of the value of the gold and silver coins. “A senum of silver was equal to a senine of gold, and either for a measure of barley, and also for a measure of every kind of grain” (Alma 11:7), and “A shiblon is half of a senum; therefore, a shiblon for half a measure of barley” (Alma 11:15).

First of all, Alma is explaining the role of the judges leading up to the occurrence of the judge Zeezrom trying to bribe Amulek before the people in the public square to deny the existence of God. Second, Alma describes how the judges were paid: “And the judge received for his wages according to his time -- a senine of gold for a day, or a senum of silver, which is equal to a senine of gold; and this is according to the law which was given” (Alma 11:3).

At this pint, Mormon inserts the value of the Nephite monetary system so the reader can appreciate the value of Zeezrom’s bribe. And in so doing, he also shows the value in the purchasing power of the coins by stating: “a senum of silver was equal to a senine of gold,” and either of these coins could be used to buy “either a measure of barley,” or “a measure of every kind of grain.” He also inserted the comment, “A shiblon is half of a senum; therefore a shiblon for half a measure of barely.” That is, a shiblon coin could purchase half a measure of barley” which is quite clear when we read the word “for” in this statement—“a shiblon FOR half a measure of barley”—which is like saying “three dollars for a loaf of bread,” which, of course, we would understand because we talk that way today.

Thus Mormon explains for our benefit that a “shiblum” is worth half the value of a “senine” or a “senum,” and therefore, has half their purchasing power. A senine or senum could purchase a full measure of barley, and a shiblum only half a measure.

One might want to consider if he were writing a record he knew would not be read for 1500 years, how would he explain things he knew would be very different in the future? What is the value of a dollar, a twenty, or a hundred? Somewhere in the explanation, one must equate the value of the money (coin) to the value of a product that would still be a common purchase 1500 years in the future. Mormon chose to equate the value for the purchase of grain—a commodity that would always be necessary for the sustenance of people. Thus, he chose barley as the grain, and added “every kind of grain,” which suggests that all grains had the same purchasing value to the Nephites.

According to biblical scholars, a “measure” at the time of Christ was equivalent to about a dry quart in our measurement today, or about 1.7 pounds. If this was the same weight the Nephites used, and there is no indication it was, since they did not use the same values as the Jews, but by way of example, if this were the case, the bribe Zeezrom offered Amulek was equivalent to about 72 pounds of grain.

So when Zeezrom said, “Behold, here are six onties of silver, and all these will I give thee if thou wilt deny the existence of a Supreme Being” (Alma 11:22). The key word in this sentence for understanding is the word “here.” So Zeezrom is telling Amulek ”HERE are the coins, and I will give them to you if you deny God.” As mentioned in the last post, since Zeezrom was playing to the crowd, there would be little effect if the onties were not present—and, obviously, on his person.

In addition, the words "all these" in the statement: "..and all these will I give thee if thou wilt deny the existence of a Supreme Being" obviously suggests something more than one, which Zeezrom said were "six onties of silver." Certainly if he meant a measure of barley, he would have said, "..this will I give thee" but he said "all these" which is in keeping with the fact he held out six coins.

Thus, it seems most unlikely that Zeezrom had 72 pounds of barley or grain present to back up his bribe. Thus, it cannot be said that the Nephites trafficked in “weights rather than coins as money” as claimed by FARMS and other Mesoamerican Theorists.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II Second of Nephite Coins

In the last post we covered the fact that the Nephite monetary system as described in the 11th chapter of Alma, was, indeed, made up of gold and silver coins.

However, what is amazing is the resistance Mesoamerican Theorists have to this idea, which seems pretty clear. As one website quoting a FARMS statement has written: “What is most interesting is "Only in the past half a millennium have coins universally come to replace weight as the standard medium of exchange. Even after the invention of coinage in Lydia in the seventh century B.C., most economic transactions continued to be based on weight, not on the coins themselves. Since coins were frequently clipped, shaved, or worn, stamping coins was used to establish the purity of the metal being weighed, but was not necessarily accepted as a guarantee of the weight of the coin itself. The fact that there were no coins in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica fits quite nicely with the Book of Mormon, which mentions weights rather than coins as money—a situation which would have been counter-intuitive for Joseph Smith in the early nineteenth century."

There are a few errors in the above, perhaps the most important one regarding coins only becoming a system of exchange over weights in the last 500 years (1500 A.D.) This is an outright fabrication since the Roman Empire used coins, not weights, as their medium of exchange in all things, including the payment of their famed Legions throughout their Empire. Legionairs in the field were paid in coin. In fact, from the time of Gaius Marius onwards (about 105 B.C.), legionaries received 225 denarii a year, which was equal to 900 Sestertii, a rate that remained unchanged until Domitian, who increased it to 300 denarii. A denarius was a small silver coin first struck in 269 B.C. before the Punic wars, with a weight of 6.8 grams (1/48th of a roman pound). When a Legionary soldier retired, he was offered a sizeable sum of money (3000 denarii) or a plot of good farmland. This retirement payment was later increased to 5000 denarii.

These are coins of the B.C. era. There are even mite coins extant from the time of Christ.

Around 211 B.C. Rome overhauled their monetary system and not only minted the Denarii at a reduced rate of 4.5 grams they also minted the victoriatus. This new denarius was the most common coin production for circulation until it was replaced by the antoninianus. The word denarius comes from the Latin word deni, which means “containing ten,” since it was worth 10 assarius (as or asses), which was a bronze and later copper coin.

Before the Romans, the Greeks began minting coins in 600 B.C., having gotten the idea from the Lydians in Turkey, who had been minting coins since the fall of the Assyrian Empire. The Greek coins were made of silver, by taking a small lump of silver and putting it on an iron mold, and then striking it with a hammer that had another kind of mold in it. In this way they could squash a picture into both sides at the same time.

While it may be true that coins were not well accepted in the first century or two of their first being struck or minted, over time, and certainly by the end of the Greek period and the beginning of the Roman period, coins had become the standard exchange and payment of all services, products, and labor within the Roman Empire, which at the time covered most of the known world. Thus, since at least 225 B.C., Roman coins were used for payment, and especially within the Legions, paid in far off lands where Roman coins became more valuable that any other coinage or monetary system.

In fact, much like Mormon wrote in Alma chapter 11 in describing the different values, the Roman system began with the gold aureus. That is, 1 gold aureus = 2 gold quinarii = 25 silver denarii = 50 silver quinarii = 100 bronze sestertii = 200 bronze dupondii = 400 copper as = 800 copper semisses = 1600 copper quadrans.

In the Bible, the word penny was a silver coin of value and equivalent to the pay of a Roman soldier in the time of Christ, and the coin the Lord referred to as the “tribute money” (Matt 22:19; Mark 12:15). Judas sold his soul for thirty pieces of silver, and the widow’s mite (probably the lepton and prutah coins minted by the Jewish King Alexander Jannaeus in 100 B.C.) Money was cast into the treasury in Christ’s time, as described in the Widow’s Mite.

It is only a lack of historical knowledge that would allow someone to say in error that coins were not used prior to around 1500 A.D. as a standard monetary system. It should also be understood, that in the farmlands and far rural areas of a country, the concept of barter (making payment with other than money) was practiced, as it was even in the U.S. in the colonial period since money was extremely difficult to come by. But in the advanced areas, major cities, of nations dating into B.C. times, coins were the standard exchange.

To this we might add that the Nephites were an advanced people, who lived in cities, and who developed a harmonious and successful culture where prices and content could be consistent. To think they would not have or know of the use of coins is foolhardy and shows a strong lack of knowledge of early cultures and the use of coins for monetary exchange.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II First of Nephite Coins

Besides the Land of Promise location matching scriptural clues such as winds and currents moving Nephi’s ship that was “driven forth before the wind,” the temperature and climate needed to grow seeds from Jerusalem exceedingly and provide an abundant climate, locating ore deposits in abundance and contain gold, silver and copper in a single unit, finding two unknown animals that were as “useful to man” as the elephant, two unknown grains on a par with corn, wheat and barley, and natural herbs to cure deadly fever, roads, buildings, resorts, area of many waters, volcanoes and earthquakes, fortified walls, and slings used as weapons, there are other clues in the scriptural record that also needs to be found in the Land of Promise.

One of these would be the use of coins for monetary exchange. While this issue is not agreed upon by Mesoamerican Theorists (no doubt because no ancient coins were ever found in Central America), the simple truth is that the Nephite money was a series of gold and silver coin as the scriptural account suggests.

Early in Alma, the subject of money is broached: “he did teach these things so much that many did believe on his words, even so many that they began to support him and give him money” (Alma 1:5), and again, “they did persecute them, and afflict them with all manner of words, and this because of their humility; because they were not proud in their own eyes, and because they did impart the word of God, one with another, without money and without price” (Alma 1:20).

The judges are described in somewhat the same light: “Now, it was for the sole purpose to get gain, because they received their wages according to their employ, therefore, they did stir up the people to riotings, and all manner of disturbances and wickedness, that they might have more employ, that they might get money according to the suits which were brought before them; therefore they did stir up the people against Alma and Amulek” (Alma 11:20).

Now, having introduced the concept of money used for purchasing and for earning wages (even through nefarious means), the scriptural account covers the bribe Zeesrom offered to Amulek (Alma 11:22). At this point, Mormon inserts an understanding of the Nephite monetary system in connection with this bribe of “six onties of silver” so we can understand its value—for it was no small amount of money.

In the gold side of the Nephite reckoning, one senine of gold was equivalent to one senum of silver. While our American system of money is based on fives and tens, the English system on sixes and twelve’s, the Nephite system was based on sevens, which Hugh Nibley claims to be a better system overall, “using the least coins for any necessary transaction.”

To begin with, the description or amount of an “onti of silver,” is described by Mormon to be worth 7 senums of silver, therefore, six onties of silver were worth 42 senums of silver, 84 shiblons of silver, 168 Shiblums, and 336 leahs of silver.

Now the important statement made by Mormon is, “Behold, here are six onties of silver, and all these will I give thee if thou wilt deny the existence of a Supreme Being” Alma 11:22). Consider that in this discussion, held between Zeezrom and a crowd of Nephites (Alma 11:35, 46) was a public debate with large crowds in attendance, in which Zeezrom is trying to humuliate Alma and Amulek with his wit and reason to further his reputation as a great lawyer and increase his clientele. In doing so, his comments are for show, thus, at this crucial moment, Zeezrom reaches into his pocket pouch and pulls out six silver coins—six onties of silver. This is shown in his words: “Here are six onties of silver—“ The word “here” indicates this money was present, and that is logical for it it was not, it would not have been as impressive to the crowd.

Thus, we can envision Zeezrom, the lawyer and showman he was that obviously reflected his courtroom skills, taking out the coins and holding them aloft for all to see, and offering them to Amulek to deny the existence of God.

If an onti of silver was simply a measurement as John L. Sorenson and other Mesoamerican Theorists claim, it would not make sense for Zeesrom to say what he did for it is extremely doubtful Zeezrom had access to barrels of barley or other grains in the public square where this debate took place.

Thus, for show, Zeezrom reached in his pocket or pouch and took out what coins he had on his possession—which turned out to be six onties of silver, which was equivalent to six weeks salary for a Nephite. We can envision that if the lawyer had five or seven or eight onties of silver in his pocket, he would have offered that for the bribe--but as it were, he had six onties in his pocket and that was his offer.

Thus we can conclude that the Nephite monetary system was based on coins, not grain as Mesoamericanists claim.

(See the next post for the second part of this three-part post on Nephite Coins in the Land of Promise)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II Slings Used as Weapons

Besides the Land of Promise location matching scriptural clues such as winds and currents moving Nephi’s ship that was “driven forth before the wind,” the temperature and climate needed to grow seeds from Jerusalem exceedingly and provide an abundant climate, locating ore deposits in abundance and contain gold, silver and copper in a single unit, finding two unknown animals that were as “useful to man” as the elephant, two unknown grains on a par with corn, wheat and barley, and natural herbs to cure deadly fever, roads, buildings, resorts, area of many waters, volcanoes and earthquakes, and fortified walls, there are other clues in the scriptural record that also needs to be found in the Land of Promise.

One of these would be the use of slings as a weapon. The earliest sling found in archaeology was in the Egyptian tomb of Tutankhamen (King Tut) who died around 1325 B.C., and earliest mention of its use was in /

Throughout the Book of Mormon, the Nephites are shown to use slings as weapons. As Nephi stated during their trip along the Red Sea, “And it came to pass that we did travel for the space of many days, slaying food by the way, with our bows and our arrows and our stones and our slings” (1 Nephi 16:15). When his bow broke, he stated: “I did arm myself with a bow and an arrow, with a sling and with stones” (1 Nephi 16:23).

When Zeniff went back to reclaim the Land of Nephi, he states “I did arm them with bows, and with arrows, with swords, and with cimeters, and with clubs, and with slings, and with all manner of weapons which we could invent, and I and my people did go forth against the Lamanites to battle” (Mosiah 9:16). Even the Lamanites used slings for weapons: “they came up upon the north of the land of Shilom, with their numerous hosts, men armed with bows, and with arrows, and with swords, and with cimeters, and with stones, and with slings; and they had their heads shaved that they were naked; and they were girded with a leathern girdle about their loins” (Mosiah 10:8).

More than 500 years after Lehi landed, the Nephites were still using slings. “They did prepare to meet them; yea, they did arm themselves with swords, and with cimeters, and with bows, and with arrows, and with stones, and with slings, and with all manner of weapons of war, of every kind” (Alma 2:12), as were the Lamanites, “the Lamanites were shorn; and they were naked, save it were skin which was girded about their loins, and also their armor, which was girded about them, and their bows, and their arrows, and their stones, and their slings, and so forth” (Alma 3:5), and the sling was still used to bring down game for food: “they departed out of the land of Zarahemla, and took their swords, and their spears, and their bows, and their arrows, and their slings; and this they did that they might provide food for themselves while in the wilderness” (Alma 17:7).

It is obvious that the Nephites had great ability with the sling, and used it even in single combat with great accuracy as shown when “Ammon stood forth and began to cast stones at them with his sling; yea, with mighty power he did sling stones amongst them; and thus he slew a certain number of them insomuch that they began to be astonished at his power” and was far more accurate with the sling than the Lamanites for they “were angry because of the slain of their brethren, and they were determined that he should fall; therefore, seeing that they could not hit him with their stones, they came forth with clubs to slay him” (Alma 17:36).

Because of this widespread use of the sling for at least nearly 600 years as recorded in the scriptural record, we might expect to find the sling a weapon found in the Land of Promise, at least at the time of the Conquistadors in the 16th century.

In the ancient Andean civilizations slings were made from llama or alpaca wool. These slings typically have a cradle that is long and thin and features a relatively long slit. Andean slings were constructed from contrasting colors of wool; complex braids and fine workmanship result in beautiful patterns. Ceremonial slings were also made; these were large, non-functional and generally lacked a slit. To this day, ceremonial slings are used in parts of the Andes as accessories in dances and in mock battles. They are also used by llama herders; the animals will move away from the thump of a stone. The stones are not slung to hit the animals, but to persuade them to move in the desired direction.

In the Andes, the sling was used for hunting and warfare. One notable use was in Incan resistance against the conquistadors and apparently very powerful; in “1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus,” historian Charles C. Mann, quoted a conquistador, who said that an Incan sling "could break a sword in two pieces" and "kill a horse." Some slings could hurl massive stones and its span could be as much as 86 inches and could weigh an impressive 14.4 ounces.

Thousands of sling stones have been found all over Peru, many dating long before the Inca and back into B.C. times where they were used by the ancient Peruvians.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II Fortified Walls

Besides the Land of Promise location matching scriptural clues such as winds and currents moving Nephi’s ship that was “driven forth before the wind,” the temperature and climate needed to grow seeds from Jerusalem exceedingly and provide an abundant climate, locating ore deposits in abundance and contain gold, silver and copper in a single unit, finding two unknown animals that were as “useful to man” as the elephant, two unknown grains on a par with corn, wheat and barley, and natural herbs to cure deadly fever, roads, buildings, resorts, area of many waters, and volcanoes and earthquakes, there are other clues in the scriptural record that also needs to be found in the Land of Promise.

One of these would be the many fortified walls of great length erected in the Land of Promise.

We find in Alma that Moroni “had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites and erecting small forts, or places of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, and also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands, yea, all round about the land” (Alma 48:8).

“And he also placed armies on the south, in the borders of their possessions, and caused them to erect fortifications that they might secure their armies and their people form the hands of their enemies” (Alma 50:10).

“He did employ his men in preparing for war, yea, and in making fortifications to guard against the Lamanites” (Alma 53:8), and caused the Lamanite prisoners to also labor in building and strengthening these fortifications (Alma 55:25)

Not only against the Lamanites, but the Nephites also built walls and fortifications about them against the Gadianton Robbers: “He caused that fortifications should be built round about them, and the strength thereof should be exceeding great” and he also “placed as guards round about to watch them, and to guard them from the robbers day and night” (3 Nephi 3:14).

The point is, throughout the Land of Promise, remnants of walls for fortification, specifically surrounding cities and also across the land showing a defensive network against the southern lands, should be evident. And this is what is found in the Andean area of Peru. Walls, sometimes standing fifteen feet high or greater, ran across the land from the west shore to the east, and obviously built for defense to guard the north lands from those to the south.

The most prominent of these walls was the one called “The Great Wall of Peru” found during a 1931 Aerial Photography Expedition to Peru by geologist Robert Shippee and U.S. Navy Lt. George R. Johnson. Initiated after the close of World War I, the new aerial photography located a wall beginning at the coast north of Huambacho, and extending for 100 to 150 miles across the mountains and desert toward the east. Now in a state of ruin, it is considered one of the most ambitious projects undertaken in South American archaeology. Even so, it is rarely mentioned in the literature of the Andes, and is poorly investigated in the field by archaeologists since it is basically only observable from the air. Built at altitudes of 8,000 to 12,000 feet in extremely rugged terrain, it runs along high ridges and is studded with small stone forts (resorts) at strategic intervals on the top of small hills where they were nearly invisible from southern approaches.

This map made by Shippee shows the location of the wall that archaeologists agree was obviously constructed to keep southern invading armies from overrunning the northern areas of Peru, and was strategically built along precipitous terrain at two miles altitude and gave its defenders the benefit of high ground. Any attacking force would have great difficulty fighting uphill to the wall.

Not observable from the ground because of the rough and often unpenetratable terrain, Shippee and Johnson discovered it and photographed it from the air and considered it one of the wonders of the world. Their numerous photographs are now on file with the Huntington Museum and the Smithsonian. The wall was built in B.C. times by the ancient Peruvians, with fourteen forts along its length, the larger ones were located on the south side of the river opposite the wall, with the largest fort being about 300 feet by 200 feet with walls fifteen feet high and five feet thick. Some were of piled stone construction while others were adobe. In many places the wall averages seven feet high and reached 20-30 feet in height where it crossed gullies and stream beds.

There are many such walls across Peru, with this Great Wall of Peru, which was begun at the West Sea and traveled inland for many miles, is as Alma and Helaman described their fortifications, and Helaman wrote of this wall: "And there they did fortify against the Lamanites, from the west sea, even unto the east; it being a day's journey for a Nephite, on the line which they had fortified and stationed their armies to defend their north country."

Friday, July 15, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II Volcanoes & Earthquakes

Besides the Land of Promise location matching scriptural clues such as winds and currents moving Nephi’s ship that was “driven forth before the wind,” the temperature and climate needed to grow seeds from Jerusalem exceedingly and provide an abundant climate, locating ore deposits in abundance and contain gold, silver and copper in a single unit, finding two unknown animals that were as “useful to man” as the elephant, and two unknown grains on a par with corn, wheat and barley, natural herbs to cure deadly fever, roads, buildings, resorts, and an area of many waters, there are other clues in the scriptural record that also needs to be found in the Land of Promise.

One of these would be the area referred to as an area of earthquakes and volcanoes.

In 3 Nephi, the earthquake catastrophe described was accompanied with a lot of noise, "terrible thunder, insomuch that it did shake the whole earth as if it was about to divide asunder" (3 Nephi 8:6) and the continuous sounds "the dreadful groanings" and "tumultuous noises" (3 Nephi 10:9). To the Nephites, the thunder was thought to cause the shaking, obviously preceding it—in any modern account of an earthquake, we hear of the frightful noise which they produce, and in many cases, it is heard before it is felt, which, according to Hodgeson, Eiby, Heck, and Byerly, all noted Seismology experts, “is hard to explain” yet it happens frequently. And according to Milne, the thunder of an earthquake always seems to shake the earth, since "the sound always appears to come from the ground beneath the observer” and, according to Knop, "one thing is stressed in all the reports: the awful rumble that heralded the outbreak of the quake, a deafening roar, louder than anything any of the witnesses had ever heard before."

In addition, “there were exceedingly sharp lightnings" (3 Nephi 8:7). And according to an eyewitness account in a National Geographic article of 1919, recounting the great earthquake of September 11, 1541, it was preceded by "the fury of the wind, the incessant, appalling lightning and dreadful thunder" that were "indescribable" in their violence. Speaking of these unexplained phenomena of earthquakes, Byerly states that in "all types of lights are reported seen. . .flashes, balls of fire, and streamers."

Byerly, in describing the terrible wind of a 16th century earthquake in the Americas, sounds just like the Book of Mormon event, in having high winds with occasional whirlwinds that even carried some people away (3 Nephi 8:12, 16; 10:13-14). In another Pacific Rim earthquake in 1923, the wind reached a velocity of 50 mph and "the fires, in turn, set up minor tornadoes"; and Knop describes in another such earthquake "strong winds raised the dust until visibility was reduced to a few feet."

"And the city of Moroni did sink into the depths of the sea" (3 Nephi 8:9). The tsunami or sea wave "is the most spectacular and appalling of all earthquake phenomena" and almost invariably follows a major shakeup on the coast. Along with this, however, we have in the Book of Mormon record what seems to be a permanent submergence of coastal areas when "the waters [came] up in the stead thereof" (3 Nephi 9:7) and remained. Such a submergence happened on a spectacular scale in the Chilean earthquake of 1960—as Tazieff reported: "We would have taken these flooded stretches—permanently flooded—for coastal lagoons," a geologist reported, "if here and there we had not seen roads that ran straight toward them and into them. . . . roads that vanished, or sometimes showed under the stagnant water, branching into what had been the streets of a town.”

While earthquakes exist in many parts of the world, especially along the Pacific Rim, on both the east and west coasts, the area of the South American Andes is, perhaps, the most spectacular. Here, along the world's longest continental mountain range, is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about 4,300 miles long, and from 120 miles to 430 miles wide. Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated by intermediate depressions. The Andes is the location of several high plateaus – some of which host major cities.

The Andes range is the world's highest mountain range outside of the continent of Asia. The highest peak, Mt. Aconcagua, rises to an elevation of about 22,841 feet above sea level. The peak of Mt. Chimborazo in the Ecuadorean Andes is farther from the centre of the Earth than any other location on the Earth's surface because of the Equatorial bulge. The world's highest volcanoes are in the Andes, with over 50 volcanoes that rise above 19,600 feet. In Ecuador and Colombia, there are 43 volcanoes, in Peru, Northern Chile and Bolivia, there are 63 volcanoes, in Central Chile and Argentina, there are 44 volcanoes, and in Southern Chile and Argentina, there are 30 volcanoes, for a total of 180 volcanoes—150 in the area of the Land of Promise. By contrast, there are only 29 volcanoes in all of Central America, 16 of those outside the suggested Book of Mormon lands there.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II Many Waters

Besides the Land of Promise location matching scriptural clues such as winds and currents moving Nephi’s ship that was “driven forth before the wind,” the temperature and climate needed to grow seeds from Jerusalem exceedingly and provide an abundant climate, locating ore deposits in abundance and contain gold, silver and copper in a single unit, finding two unknown animals that were as “useful to man” as the elephant, and two unknown grains on a par with corn, wheat and barley, and natural herbs to cure deadly fever, there are other clues in the scriptural record that also needs to be found in the Land of Promise.

One of these would be the area referred to as “the land of many waters.”

King Limhi, when describing the experiences of a 43-man expedition he sent out to find Zarahemla, describes this land as “they were lost in the wilderness for the space of many days, yet they were diligent and found not the land of Zarahemla but returned to this land, having traveled in a land among many waters, having discovered a land which was covered with bones of men, and of beasts, and was also covered with ruins of buildings of every kind, having discovered a land which had been peopled with a people who were as numerous as the hosts of Israel” (Mosiah 8:8).

Mormon goes further, in adding information about this land of many waters when he wrote: “We did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites” (Mormon 6:4).

Obviously, then, in the Land Northward, beyond the Hill Cumorah, there was a land containing many waters—lakes, rivers, and fountains. These waters were so significant that they were mentioned twice in connection to this land northward—evidently a far different topography than that of the Land Southward. These many waters would probably have been several lakes and rivers that flowed to the sea—but more importantly, these waters contained “fountains.”

Now a fountain in connection with bodies of water and rivers is generally considered to be the origination of those waters and streams, “a point of origin or dissemination; a principal source” of a body of water, river or stream—referred to as the source, fount, wellspring, wellhead, beginning, rise, cause, genesis, commencement derivation, fountainhead.

Thus, this area of many waters would be the source of water in the land, not a lake, which has an inlet and then an outlet, but the source or origination of that water. In this sense, the Great Lakes of the Northeastern United States would not qualify as a source of a river other than as a pass through—that is, waters pour into the Great lakes from the north from the Canadian watershed, and then passes through the lakes and becomes the rivers and streams of the Eastern United States watershed.

This means the Land of Promise, there should be an area of considerable size that is the beginning of rivers and lakes, from which rivers and streams flow outward and obviously downward.
In Ecuador, such an area exists, where numerous individual waterways, lakes, rivers, and streams have their origin. Numerous rivers begin here, each flowing southward into the Bay of Guauaquil and into the Pacific Ocean—the Pablo, Caracol, Babahoyo, Daule and the Guayas, which is the most important river in South America that does not flow into the Atlantic Ocean. The Guayas is the largest watershed in South America west of the Andes and has an area of almost 22,000 square miles, covering nine provinces, and discharges 18 million cubic miles of water into the Bay of Guayaquil every year.

Truly, a land of many waters as Mormon described.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II Buildings

Besides the Land of Promise location matching scriptural clues such as winds and currents moving Nephi’s ship that was “driven forth before the wind,” the temperature and climate needed to grow seeds from Jerusalem exceedingly and provide an abundant climate, locating ore deposits in abundance and contain gold, silver and copper in a single unit, finding two unknown animals that were as “useful to man” as the elephant, and two unknown grains on a par with corn, wheat and barley, natural herbs to cure deadly fever, roads and highways, forts and resorts, there are other clues in the scriptural record that also needs to be found in the Land of Promise.

One of these would be the buildings, palaces, and temples mentioned throughout the scriptural record.

Beginning with Nephi, who wrote: “And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance…and I did build a temple, and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon” (2 Nephi 5:15-16).

“Noah built many elegant and spacious buildings; and he ornamented them with fine work of wood, and of all manner of precious things, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of brass, and of ziff, and of copper; and he also built him a spacious palace…and he built a tower near the temple, yea, a very high tower…and he caused many buildings to be built in the land of Shilom; and he caused a great tower to be built on the north of the land” (Mosiah 11:8-9, 12-14).

The temple in Zarahemla had walls about it (Mosiah 2:7), as did the city itself (Helaman 13:4; 16:1), and Moroni built walls of stone around Nephite cities and also about the land (Alma 48:8).

In addition to towns and villages, the Nephites constructed buildings (Jarom 1:8), built numerous cities (3 Nephi 6:7), with many being notable and great (3 Nephi 8:14)—the Lord himself even referred to several cities as being “great” (3 Nephi 9:3-5, 9), and they built temples in the city of Nephi, Zarahemla and Bountiful, and used iron and steel (2 Nephi 5:15)

The Jaredites also built cities (Ether 10:12), great spacious buildings (Ether 10:5) of every kind (Mosiah 8:8), and used iron (Ether 10:23) and steel (Ether 7:9).

Consequently, it would seem necessary to find in the Land of Promise today a land covered with buildings and ruins of antiquity. Three ancient peoples in the Western Hemisphere have buildings of antiquity: Aztecs (Mexico), Maya (Guatemala), and the Inca (Andean area of South America). Of these three, the most extensive and versatile are those of the Peruvian Andes. Literally, the land is honeycombed with ruins of all types.

There are temples, fortresses, cities, small forts, vast complexes, etc. These ancient cities were enormous in size, some with magnificent temples, and others with complex defensive walls and structures.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II Forts and Resorts

Besides the Land of Promise location matching scriptural clues such as winds and currents moving Nephi’s ship that was “driven forth before the wind,” the temperature and climate needed to grow seeds from Jerusalem exceedingly and provide an abundant climate, locating ore deposits in abundance and contain gold, silver and copper in a single unit, finding two unknown animals that were as “useful to man” as the elephant, and two unknown grains on a par with corn, wheat and barley, and natural herbs to cure deadly fever, there are other clues in the scriptural record that also needs to be found in the Land of Promise.

One of these would be the “resorts” mentioned by Alma.

“And thus he did appoint chief captains of the Zoramites, they being the most acquainted with the strength of the Nephites, and their places of resort, and the weakest parts of their cities; therefore he appointed them to be chief captains over his armies.” 9Alma 48:5)

“He was preparing to defend himself against them, by casting up walls round about and preparing places of resort” (Alma 52:6)

“He had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, and also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land” (Alma 48:8).

As shown in the last quote, a resort as mentioned in the scriptural record refers to a small fort. Such small forts in history often refer to a hilltop fort, one that overlooks a valley, canyon, or passage through an area.

Typically, forts were large, and served as an outpost housing a significant garrison from which troops could be sent to protect an area, such as a settlement, a road, or a travel route. Such forts were built across the western United States in the early days of expansion to protect settlers from Indian attack. More substantial forts were built in the eastern lands to serve as a deterrent to invasion, attack or enemy sorties.

Smaller forts were often erected for outposts, that is, for a forward or outer sentinel position where such lookouts could sound a warning to the main forces, army, or fort that an enemy was approaching. This seems to be the situation described by Alma when he wrote of Moroni: “Yea, he had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, and also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land” (Alma 48:8).

Thus, the Land of Promise should include large and small forts scattered about. And in the area of Peru in South America there are two thousand year old ruins of numerous forts, both large and small. Unlike Mesoamerica, where large temple and city sites are found, few with walls about them, in the Andean area of South America specific forts were built with the sole intent of protecting those within from an enemy without.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II Highways and Roads

Besides the Land of Promise location matching scriptural clues such as winds and currents moving Nephi’s ship that was “driven forth before the wind,” the temperature and climate needed to grow seeds from Jerusalem exceedingly and provide an abundant climate, locating ore deposits in abundance and contain gold, silver and copper in a single unit, finding two unknown animals that were as “useful to man” as the elephant, and two unknown grains on a par with corn, wheat and barley, and natural herbs to cure deadly fever, there are other clues in the scriptural record that also needs to be found in the Land of Promise.

One of these would be the roads described by the disciple Nephi during a great time of peace when there was nothing to “hinder the people from prospering continually,” and “many cities when a major renovation of the land was taking place and “there were many cities built anew, and there were many old cities repaired,” and “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 6:5-8).

This description suggests that there were both highways (a major road connecting two or more destinations and usually inter-connected to form a system or network of roads) and roads (a thoroughfare or route between two places). Thus there were both many major road systems (highways) and smaller, individual routes (roads) they may have connected short destinations between villages, or diverted off a major system to end in a specific location.

Obviously, then, these roads were very extensive, not just running from city to city, but from one “land” to another, and from one “place” to another. How long these roads were and how many miles they covered is not told to us, but the description should suggest that this was a complex and extensive road system.

It also must have been very important to the Nephites, for when the disciple Nephi described the destruction occurring across the land at the time of the Savior’s crucifixion, he also tells us that there were both highways and roads were extensively affected by the earthquakes when he wrote: “And the highways were broken up, and the level roads were spoiled, and many smooth places became rough” (3 Nephi 8:13).

We should look, then, within any Land of Promise model, for a major road system stretching across the entire breadth and width of the Nephite lands, in both the Land Southward and the Land Northward.

It should be noted that the most extensive, complete, and advanced road system in all of the Western Hemisphere was the pre-Columbian network of roads in the Andean area. While Mesoamerica also had roads of antiquity, it was those of Peru that the Spanish conquistadores raved about their fabulous construction, length and serviceability—comparing them to the roads of Rome and many feeling they surpassed those ancient Roman roads.

These Andean roads had two north-south highways with numerous branches, the eastern route ran high in the puna grasslands and mountain valleys from Quito, Ecuador, to Santiago, Chile. The western route followed the coastal plain except in coastal deserts where it hugged the foothills. More than twenty routes ran over the western mountains, while others traversed the eastern cordillera in the mountains and lowlands. Some of these roads were at heights over 26,000 feet above sea level. The trails connected the regions of the Nephite Nation (a thousand years later they were still in excellent condition and were used by the Inca to connect their empire), and linked together about 25,000 miles of roadway and provided access to over 1,200,000 square miles of territory.

Situated between 1,600 to 2,600 feet above sea level, this monumental road, which could reach 66 feet in width, connected populated areas, administrative centers, agricultural and mining zones as well as ceremonial centers and sacred spaces. These roads provided easy, reliable and quick routes for civilian and military communications, personnel movement, and logistical support. Although the roads varied greatly in scale, construction, and appearance, for the most part they varied between about 3 ½ feet to 13 feet in width.

Though these roads are called Inca Roads by modern historians, they actually were built more than two thousand years ago and were in existence prior to, and used by, the Wari Empire which is considered to have begun somewhere after 400 A.D., perhaps within a 100 years of the demise of the Nephite Nation. However, the Wari Empire followed the so-called Moche Empire, which dates back into B.C. times.

The point is, whatever name modern man wants to give to these early cultures, the earliest of them built these roads that were magnificent in every way. They ran throughout the land and were unequalled anywhere in the Western Hemisphere and, according to the early Spaniards that traveled over them, unequalled anywhere in the world.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part I

Besides the Land of Promise location matching scriptural clues such as winds and currents moving Nephi’s ship that was “driven forth before the wind,” the temperature and climate needed to grow seeds from Jerusalem exceedingly and provide an abundant crop, locating ore deposits in abundance where ore contains gold, silver and copper in a single unit, finding two unknown animals that were as “useful to man” as the elephant, and two unknown grains on a par with corn, wheat and barley, there are other clues in the scriptural record that also needs to be found in the Land of Promise.

One of these would be herbs to cure deadly fever. As Alma wrote “And there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land—but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate” (Alma 46:40).

The most deadly fever known to man throughout the centuries is malaria—a parasitic disease that involves high fevers which can result in convulsions, coma, and death. This fever is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions, including the Americas. Even today, a widely available vaccine that provides a high level of protection for a sustained period is still beyond our reach.

In the last six centuries B.C. and the first four centuries A.D., (and for a nearly 1500 years after that) malaria had no cure of such deadly fevers other than one natural remedy--Quinine, a natural white crystalline alkaloid, that has been synthesized in the lab since the mid 1940s, but found naturally only in the bark of the cinchona tree, which is the only known natural source of quinine.

While the deadly fever of malaria was known throughout the Southern Hemisphere, only one location in the entire world possessed the natural cure of this disease—the Andean area of Peru in South America

The only known source of the cinchona tree prior to its transplanting by the Dutch in the 1800s, was the Andean area of Peru where the tree is indigenous. Quinine has long been used by the Quechua Indians of Peru as an effective muscle relaxant to halt shivering due to low temperatures. These early Peruvians would mix the ground bark of the cinchona trees with sweetened water to offset the bark’s bitter taste, thus producing a tonic water.

Discovered in Peru by the early Spaniards in the 16th century, it was exported to Europe and first used in Rome in 1631 A.D. During the 17th century there, malaria was endemic to the swamps and marshes surrounding the city of Rome and responsible for the death of several popes, many cardinals and countless common Roman citizens. Jesuit priests, familiar with the symptoms of malaria in Rome, when traveling to the Andean area after the Conquest, saw how the Quechua Indians used the cinchona bark to cure the disease. When exported to Europe, the cinchona bark was known as Jesuit’s bark and became one of the mot valuable commodities shipping from Peru to Europe. In fact, the cinchona bark not only cured malaria, but some dozen other maladies, including cardiac arrhythmias and related heart conditions, digestive problems and different types of infections or disorders, throat and oral problems, muscular cramps, chronic arthritis, sciatica and dysentery, kapha and other disorders, and also reduced elevated temperatures during fevers of all kinds—thus becoming known as the first miracle cure obtained from the wild.

As Alma wrote: “…because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases to which men were subject by the nature of the climate” (Alma 46:40).

The Quechua word for the cinchona bark was “quina” or “quina-quina,” which roughly means “bark of bark,” or “holy bark.” This herbal cure became more valuable than gold in Europe and especially in Rome, and provided Europeans with the ability to travel to Africa, which had been known previously as “the white man’s grave.” As historians have written, “It was quinine’s efficacy that gave colonists fresh opportunities to swarm into the Gold Coast, Nigeria and other parts of west Africa.”

To maintain their monopoly on cinchona bark, Peru and surrounding countries began outlawing the export of cinchona seeds and saplings beginning in the early 19th century, but the Dutch smuggled out seeds and started chinchona plantations in Java (Indonesia), and by the 1930s were producing 32 million pounds of cinchona bark, or 97% of the world’s quinine production.

During World War II, the Germans occupied the Netherlands and the Japanese occupied the Philippines and Indonesia, cutting off the United States supply of quinine—resulting in tens of thousands of U.S. troops dying of malaria in the South Pacific and Africa. Today, Cinchona trees remain the only economically practical source of quinine. However, under wartime pressure, research was undertaken to synthesize quinine and several have been achieved, but none can compete economically with the isolation of the alkaloid from natural sources.

Friday, July 8, 2011

What Nephi, Mormon and Moroni Told Us – Part III

In the last post we discussed the five basic clues or statements made by the ancient prophets and writers of the Book of Mormon that would show us where this Land of Promise is actually located. The first three of these were answered in the previous posts under the title: “The All Important Winds and Currents.”

1. Where winds and currents would take a sailing ship in 600 B.C.
2. Find a land where the climate matched that of Jerusalem.
3. Find a land where “both” gold, silver and copper exist in a single ore, and was abundant in the area.

In the last post we covered the fourth of these five points.
4. Find a land where two unknown animals existed that were as “useful to man” as an elephant.

In this post, we will cover the last of these five points.

5. Find a land where two unknown grains grew.

The most useful, versatile, and nutritional grains that were unknown in the Eastern United States and, therefore, to Joseph Smith, in 1830, are those found in the Andean area of South America. These grains include the parent grains of Quinoa and Kiwicha.

Quinoa (kee-noo-ah) is a high altitude Andean grain extremely rich in protein, that was considered by the Incas to be the mother grain, but was harvested for thousands of years before the Inca. It played an important role in both the diet and ceremonies of the Andean peoples, like amaranth did for the Aztecs

The quinoa is a food plant, which was extensively cultivated in the Andean region by pre-Columbian cultures and was used in the diet of the settlers both of the inter-Andean valleys. which are very cold high areas, and of the high plateaus. After maize. it has occupied the most prominent place among Andean grains.

The nutritional value of the plant is considerable: the content and quality of its proteins are outstanding because of their essential amino acid composition (lysine, arginine, histidine and methionine); its biological value is comparable to casein and it is especially suitable for food mixtures with legumes and cereals. Of the Andean grains, C. quinoa is the most versatile from the point of view of culinary preparation: the whole grain, the uncooked or roasted flour, small leaves, meal and instant powder can be prepared in a number of ways. There are numerous recipes on about 100 preparations, including tamales, huancaĆ­na sauce, leaf salad, pickled quinoa ears, soups and casseroles, stews, torrejas, pastries, sweets and desserts and soft and fermented, hot and cold, beverages, as well as breads, biscuits and pancakes.

Kiwicha (kee-weech-ah), like Quinoa, is a Andean supergrain, and referred to by historians as Inca Wheat, has been around as long as Quinoa, pre-dating the Inca by more than a thousand years. This grain is one of the most nutritious foods grown and has more protein than the major cereals and a better balance of amino acids than any other plant. The grain can be used as a cereal without cooking, or it can be used in stews, soups, breads, meats, flour, etc.

Both of these supergrains are indigenous to the Andean area and have been grown there for some 4,000 years or more. Today, they are the best known of the so-called undiscovered grains of the world, and their existence in South America shows the most ancient grain production of such little-known superfoods.

(See the next post, “More Clues from the Book of Mormon,” for additional insights into how these ancient prophets and Mormon left us information to locate and understand the location of the Land of Promise)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What Nephi, Mormon and Moroni Told Us – Part II

In the last post we discussed the five basic clues or statements made by the ancient prophets and writers of the Book of Mormon that would show us where this Land of Promise is actually located. The first three of these were answered in the previous posts under the title: “The All Important Winds and Currents.”

1. Where winds and currents would take a sailing ship in 600 B.C.
2. Find a land where the climate matched that of Jerusalem.
3. Find a land where “both” gold, silver and copper exist in a single ore, and was abundant in the area.

In this post, we will cover the fourth of these five points.

4. Find a land where two unknown animals existed that were as “useful to man” as an elephant.

First of all, how useful is an elephant to man? What does it do? What kind of an animal is it? Usually, an elephant is described as a beast of burden, which is a synonym for a pack animal, or more importantly a working animal that is domesticated and been trained to perform tasks, such as logging elephants, horses, camels, and other such animals that provide man with labor saving methods of accomplishing work or tasks. As an example, the strength of horses, elephants, and oxen are used in pulling carts and logs. Some are used for transports, such as horses, elephants, camels and donkeys.

The most useful animals to man are those that are not only used for sheer physical strength and labor saving work, but also for transport or carrying burdens, riding, packing, wool (clothing), leather, and eating.

Few animals fit all these catagories, but elephants, llamas and alpacas do, though the latter two are seldom used for riding in recent centuries.

Of the animals that might fit this description found in Ether, we could include oxen, horses, mules, donkeys, elephants, and camelids. Water buffalo is a type of oxen which, in turn, is a type of cattle. All of these different animals would have been known and understood in 19th century New England where Joseph Smith grew up and farmed with his family—except for the camelids of South America known today as llama and alpaca.

Llamas (shown above), one of the four main species of New World camelids, are herd animals by nature and enjoy the companionship of others of their kind--or that of cattle and herds, such as sheep--are known for their packing capacity, their intuitive guarding abilities, and their keeping predators away such as wolves, coyotes, etc., from areas they are assigned. Llamas and Alpaca contribute useful items for value-added consumption, both for their wool and for their meat.

Alpaca fiber (shown above before shearing) is probably the most valuable, and much like sheep’s wool, is used for making knitted and woven items, including blankets, sweaters, hats, gloves, scarves, and a wide variety of textiles and ponchos, socks, coat, and bedding. Llama fiber is also easily processed into yarn, fine products and clothing—which makes them more useful to man that most beasts of burden. Both animals also generate rich, odorless manure that makes excellent fertilizer.

These animals can easily be trained for specific tasks, and are also excellent pets and companions because of their low-key temperament, intelligence and east of maintenance. Llamas make ideal pack animals, especially for wilderness travel and even more especially in mountainous regions.

As Moroni wrote: ”And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants, cureloms and cumoms” (Ether 9:19).

Where are Llamas and Alpacas found? They are indigenous only to the Andean area of South America, and in 2200 B.C. to 400 A.D., were only found there.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What Nephi, Mormon and Moroni Told Us

Many Mesoamerican, Great Lakes, and other theorists of the location of the Land of Promise, claim Nephi did not tell us where he went. However, Nephi gave us several clues, and Moroni and Mormon added to those clues, that we may pinpoint not only where Nephi disembarked from, but where he sailed, where he landed, and what he found there.

As Nephi said, “For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding” (2 Nephi 31:3).

And Nephi plainly told us where they traveled and where they ended up at the place they called Bountiful, which is clearly along the southern Arabian coast bordering the Arabian Sea.

He also told us about the ship he built, that the Lord said, it was to be constructed “after the manner which I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters” (1 Nephi 17:9), and Nephi said that they “did work timbers of curious workmanship. And the Lord did show me from time to time after what manner I should work the timers of the ship” (1 Nephi 18:1), telling us that even the minutest detail was directed by the Lord. When the ship was finished, it was “not after the manner which was learned by men” but it was “after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me, wherefore, it was not after the manner of men” (1 Nephi 18:2).

He told us the ship was a sailing ship (1 Nephi 18:8), that it could be steered (18:13, 22), that the ship went where the winds blew (1 Nephi 18:15), and that they were blown continually toward the promised land (1Nephi 18:8, 22), until they finally reached the Land of Promise (1 Nephi 18:23).

Following this voyage, which can be mapped on any world map showing wind and sea currents (see earlier posts, “The All Important Winds and Currents-Part I and Part II,” July 1 and 2, 2011). Now once at the promised land, Nephi describes two very important events that help tell us where he landed. He tells us that his seeds, brought from Jerusalem, were planted and grew exceedingly and provided an abundant crop (1 Nephi 18:24) as described thoroughly in the post “The All Important Winds and Currents-Part V,” July 5, 2011, and that “we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper” (1 Nephi 18:25). This is described thoroughly in the post “The All Important Winds and Currents-Part IV,” July 4, 2011.

This information alone verifies the area of Chile as the landing site and the area of Peru as part of the Land of Promise. But we are not finished yet, for Moroni added one all-important clue to this location when he wrote about the Jaredites earlier having two animals that were unknown in the Eastern United States in 1830, and to which Joseph Smith could not envision their appearance and, therefore, not be able to place a name to them other than using the original Jaredite or Nephite words.

He said, “they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms” (Ether 9:19), then Moroni went on to describe them more so we could understand what types of animals these were when he said, “all of which were useful to man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms” (Ether 9:19).

And finally, Mormon added his own clue, when he told us of two grains that were unique to this area and, again, unknown to Joseph Smith in 1830, when he said, “And we began to till the ground, yea, even with all manner of seeds, with seeds of corn, and of wheat, and of barley, and with neas and with sheum” (Mosiah 9:9). Since these seeds were mentioned along with three grains, corn, barley and wheat, we can conclude that neas and sheum were also grains.

Consequently, all we need to know in order to locate the Land of Promise is:

1. Where winds and currents would take a sailing ship in 600 B.C.

2. A land where the climate matched that of Jerusalem.

3. A land where “both” gold, silver and copper exist in a single ore, and was abundant in the area.

4. A land where two unknown animals existed that were “use to man” as an elephant.

5. A land where two unknown grains grew.

The first three of these were answered in the previous five posts. In the next two posts we will see where the fourth and fifth clues existed.