Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What is the Basis for the Land of Promise? Part I

There is one criteria and one criteria only for understanding any claimed location for the Book of Mormon Land of Promise—and that is the Book of Mormon scriptural record. And the only questions that needs to be asked of any geographical Theorist is whether or not they actually believe in the Book of Mormon in its entirety, whether they accept what is written within all its 531 pages, and agree that the points covered by Nephi, Mormon and others in its pages regarding what was found and what existed in the Land of Promise have to exist, or once existed, in any current model (location) under discussion.
The fact is, no matter what else is used in any discussion, the points from the Book of Mormon have to be included and be the basis of any discussion on the matter.
As an example:
1) Seeds of every kind from Jerusalem. Seeds in 600 B.C. would have needed to be transplanted in the same basic ground as Jerusalem—thus the Land of Promise would have to have Desertic Soils of arid climate, shallow, stony soils, sparse cover, fertile if irrigated; same soil groups, called Brown Soils Soil Group; same basic temperature, which would be 60º to 70º; same climate and vegetation zone, which would be a Mediterranean Climate (Mediterranean Scrub), where citrus, olive, agave, etc., grew; and the same mean annual precipitation, which would be 16” to 24” rainfall. If this does not exist in the proposed Land of Promise model, then Lehi’s seeds “from Jerusalem” would not have grown and the Colony would not have survived. Only two such climates exist in the Western Hemisphere—Southern California and along the 30º south latitude of Chile, and only the latter has all the matching requirements of soil, temperature and precipitation.
 2) Roads that connected all the Land of Promise, and so constructed as to still be seen today. Ancient roads of quality and distance exist only in two places in the Western Hemisphere—the Andean area of South America, and Central America. The Peruvian roads date back to the first millennium B.C. and can still be seen, some are still in use today. In the mid 1500s, the Spanish were amazed at the quality of the roads and compared them favorably with Roman roads, both of which are still quite visible today. This obviously suggests that any roads built in Book of Mormon times would still be noticeable and usable today. If there are no roads, or clear evidence of such ancient roads, of this caliber in the suggested Land of Promise today, then it is not the Nephite location.
3) Great cities, magnificent temples, palaces, synagogues (2 Nephi 5:16; Mosiah 1:2; 11:9-10,13; 19:5; Helaman 3:9; 3 Nephi 9:3-5; 11:1). Since these buildings would have been built of stone—like that of Jerusalem from which Lehi and his family came, and to which Nephi’s knowledge of construction, appearance, and function would have been, and the only basis he would have had to teach his people in how to build buildings, etc. (2 Nephi 5:15)—we should find some ruins of stone buildings in any Land of Promise location today. There are only two places in the Western Hemisphere that have such ancient edifices—the Andean area of South America and Central America.
One of hundreds of ancient city complexes found in the Andean Area of South America that date into B.C. times
4) Defensive Walls of stone that ran for miles in a more or less straight line to guard against a southern invasion (Alma 48:8; Helaman 4:7). These stone walls would have been sufficiently strong to deter and contain an advancing army tens of thousands strong, some evidence of such walls surely would be in evidence today. Only one place in the Western Hemisphere has such walls—the Andean Area of South America. In fact, the Great Wall of Peru found by the Shippee-Johnson aerial survey expedition in 1931, extends as far as 50 miles inland from the Pacific coast, and ranged from 12 to 15 feet in height. Other such extensive defensive walls have been found in Peru and Bolivia. 
5) Walls of stone around cities, circling the cities “round about” (Alma 48:8) that could be stood upon (Alma 62:20; Helaman 13:3; 16:1) that were quite high (Alma 62:21-23); and within a stone’s throw and arrow range (Helaman 16:2). Again, such evidence of these walls would surely be in evidence today since they would have been made of stone (you cannot stand on a palisade wall of timbers). As an example, one such wall is found surrounding the ancient city of Kuelap in the Andean area of South America, with a stone wall surrounding 400 buildings, 2000 feet long, 10 feet wide, and stands 62 feet in height—obviously built for defense.
Kuelap Walls that surround the entire city—one of the largest city structures found in the Western Hemisphere
6) Mountains cast up during the Savior’s death (3 Nephi 8:10) whose “height is great” (Helaman 14:23). Obviously, those mountains would be in stark evidence today—any mountain “whose height is great” would be clearly visible, and far larger and taller than any hills. We should certainly be talking about mountains between 12,000 and 15,000 feet high or more to qualify as a “great height.”
The Andes Mountains in South America run over 4000 miles in length, from 120 to 430 miles wide, and average 13,000 feet in height; with dozens of peaks over 18,000 feet
7) Two animals as useful to man as the elephant (Ether 9:19) that would have been unknown in New England in 1829. There are few animals as useful as elephants, which is a beast of burden—which is a domesticated animal such as a mule, horse or donkey that is used for carrying and pulling heavy loads. Obviously, Joseph Smith would have known about such common animals, as well as oxen, cattle, mules, etc. These two animals, unknown to Joseph Smith in 1829 New England farm country, would have to be distinctly different, domesticated, and perform much the same role as those mentioned above. They would obviously not be bison (buffalo), sloth, or the pig-like peccary, javelin, etc., that have been suggested by some. In fact, of the list of domesticated or semi-domesticated animals found in the Western Hemisphere, only the llama and alpaca fit Ether/Moroni’s description, neither of which would have been known in the United States in the 1820s.
Llama (Lama glama), indigenous to the Andean area of South America, is a domesticated camelid, widely used as a meat and pack animal by Andean cultures since B.C. times
8) Two grains on a par with corn, wheat and barley (Mosiah 9:9) that would have been unknown in New England in 1829. In the farmland areas of Joseph Smith’s experience, two grains that would have been unknown were quinoa and kiwichi, grains of the Andean area of South America. These grains, especially quinoa, are considered to be a pseudocereal, grown for its edible seeds, and is extremely high in protein and was of great importance in the diet of pre-Columbian Andean civilizations, secondary only to the potato and was followed in importance by maize (corn). No other Western Hemisphere grain but these two fit the description and importance as is stated for neas and shuem that would have been unknown to farmers of Joseph Smith’s time and location.
Quinoa (the name is derived from the Spanish spelling of the Indian Quechua name kinwa or occasionally "Qin-wah") originated in the Andean region of Peru, where it was successfully domesticated 4,000 years ago for human consumption, having been domesticated from wild populations of Chenopodium quinoa
(See the next post, “What is the Basis for the Land of Promise? Part II,” for more of the basis to determine the present location of the Book of Mormon Land of Promise based first, on the scriptural record)

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