Monday, July 23, 2012

Brandley’s Map – Another Useless Shot in the Dark, Part V

Continuing with Theodore Brandley’s North American setting for his Land of Promise, we revisit his map to show the relationship errors according to the scriptural record.

First of all, Brandley suggests correctly that the Mulekites, once disembarking from their ship in the Land of Promise, did not move from that spot; however, he erroneously wants to claim that this disembarkation was about 400 miles upstream along the Mississippi River from the Gulf of Mexico.

He writes: “Notice that their journey through the wilderness was before they crossed the great waters, and they had remained where they had landed. They therefore would have sailed up the river Sidon from the sea and landed at Zarahemla. As previously noted, Zarahemla could not be a great distance from the sea because it was in the low lands.”
It is both accurate and logical to say that the Mulekites built their city of Zarahemla where they landed, not far from the Sea. However, it seems to go against all logic and common sense to believe that the Mulekites sailed up a river for 400 miles or so in order to find a location to land and build their city.
Brandley claims this distance was 200 miles, but it is actually 290 as the crow flies, 380 miles by river direction, and actually over 400 miles when considering the numerous twists, turns, and switchbacks of the river along that distance from Donaldsonville north, which can actually double the distance of a voyage upriver.
Note the twists and turns and switchbacks of the Mississippi River, which add numerous miles to a journey upriver
Just to set the record straight, and be realistic about this, when Columbus crossed the Atlantic, his seamen were threatening mutiny two days before they finally sighted land. Once sighting the island of San Salvador, in the Bahamas, they landed! They were so grateful to see land and be on it once again after more than a month of nothing but water around them. In fact, every further voyage of Columbus and subsequent explorers, once sighting land after over a month at sea, they landed. Consider that while Columbus sailed only the width of the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to the Bahamas, a distance of about 5,400 miles, Brandley's suggested course for the Mulekites covered about 8,800 miles just to the mouth of the Mississippi River, then another 400 miles or more up the river—a total distance of over 9,200 miles. It seems unlikely that with all that land in sight from the Bahamas to the mouth of the Mississippi, that the Mulekties would have sailed another 400 miles up an unknown river to settle.
However, Brandley would have us believe that after sighting land in the West Indies, the Mulekites traveled another 1800 miles to the mouth of the Mississippi River, then another 400 miles up river to this area today called Poverty Point—about 16 miles from the River. All this while, almost 2400 miles, they were often in sight of land and could see the forests, game, and numerous easy beach landing sites—but no! Brandley says they continued on!
Brandley’s location for the city of Zarahemla is a location today called Poverty Point which, according to archaeologists, comprises several earthworks and mounds built between 1650 and 700 B.C. by a group of Native Americans of the Poverty Point culture. The culture extended 100 miles across the Mississippi Delta. The original purposes of Poverty Point have not been determined, although they have proposed various possibilities including that it was: 1) a settlement, 2) a trading center, or 3) a ceremonial religious complex.
Whatever was its original use and intention, there is agreement on the fact that Poverty Point was settled and built between 1650 B.C. and 700 B.C. The problem, that even Brandley acknowledges, is that the site’s development and use ended about 120 years before the Mulekites left Jerusalem!
There are numerous other problems associated with a Zarahemla on the Mississippi River, such as the highlands to the south—they do not exist in Brandley’s model. Or a narrow strip of wilderness separating the Land of Zarahemla from the Land of Nephi where the head of the River Sidon was located—these do not exist in Brandley’s model. And the Land of Nephi being to the south of the Narrow Strip of Wilderness, which was south of the Land of Zarahemla—this does not exist in Brandley’s map.
In fact, Mormon tells us that the head of the River Sidon is somewhere along the narrow strip of wilderness that runs from the East Sea to the West Sea, and that it separates the Land of Nephi from the Land of Zarahemla; however, Brandley’s Narrow Strip of Wilderness separates the Land of Zarahemla from the Gulf of Mexico (Brandley’s West Sea), which is contrary to Mormon’s description. Also, his narrow strip is actually east of his Land of Nephi.
One must wonder if Brandley has ever actually read the Book of Mormon!

And lastly, it should be noted that the Mississippi River flows southward, which would have been against any sailing ship moving upriver. This flow would almost overcome any forward movement from the wind (see previous posts on this subject), making any upriver journey extremely slow and difficult, not to mention the depth of the Mississippi River for a deep ocean vessel. Not until the paddle wheel and steam engines was the Mississippi River ever conquered upriver. Before that, shipping on the river was with keelboats or barge boats that made it upriver by cordel--rope pulleys--or by poling, even as late as the 18th century.
(See the next post, “Brandley’s Map – Another Useless Shot in the Dark, Part VI,” to see more how Brandley’s map is ridiculously absent of any matches to the actual scriptural record)

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