Friday, April 19, 2013

Did the Nephites Build out of Stone? Part IX

In the first of these posts we discussed the facts and scriptures surrounding the Nephite building materials. In the last several posts we have answered the specific statements about those who believe the Nephites did not use stone and clarifying the point. We continue here:
Comment #30: “They used architectural patterns and methods familiar to them from their origins in ancient Sumeria. This included the ziggurat, or stepped pyramid, topped by a small temple. This temple symbolically represented a mountain or “high place” where one could more ready communicate with the "gods" Fenton Z.
Response: One would think that a people would continue with their known architectural style and methods, but this is not what is found in the so-called Olmec lands. At sites such as San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán, the Olmec constructed non-Jaredite large earthen platforms more than 3,000 feet long, 1,000 feet wide, and 150 feet high, upon which were erected ritual and ceremonial structures of stone and more perishable materials such as wood or plaster. These platform complexes served several purposes, including residences for elite Olmec families and rulers, gathering places for public ceremonies, and burial sites for Olmec royalty. At the site of La Venta, Guatemala, the Olmec constructed conical (not stepped) pyramids in the center of their platform complexes, perhaps meant to imitate mountains or volcanoes not found in the immediate Olmec area. The earthen platforms consisted of layers of worked colored stone laid out in large plazas and covered with as many as a dozen sequential layers of sand and earth piled one on top of the other to construct the platforms. The complexity suggests that the process of construction was as important as the final structure. None of this suggests Mesopotamia (Babel) in any way.
So far, eighteen ziggurats have been uncovered in the are of Mesopotamia, but they are not all the same. Left: The Guto-Sumerian ziggurat resembling the Hind Kush mountains or Iran; Right: The Ziggurat of Ur
Comment #31: “The Mesopotamian ziggurats were constructed of earth and fired brick. (Only one pyramid in Mesoamerica in known to have been built of fired brick, that at Comalcalco).  However, in Mesoamerica the same pattern is used, but the material is different. There the pyramids were constructed of hewn or rough stone, often with an earthen core.”
Response: As has been stated earlier, we do not know what the Tower of Babel looked like. We know what Nebuchadnezzar II’s ziggurat looked like, but that was some 1500 years after the Tower. We know what other ziggurats looked like from some architectural excavations, but nothing dating back near 2200 B.C. to the time of the Jaredites. We also know that stepped pyramids have been found in different areas around the world—probably because it was the easiest way for ancient cultures to build upward—including Egypt's pyramids, and some in Andean Peru.
Comment #32: “The account indicates that the Jaredites built many mighty cities, and spacious buildings, and that the people covered the face of the earth. (Ether 9:23). Their cities, dwellings and trade routes were connected by extensive roads, paths and trail systems. They were skilled in mining and metallurgy, and left large waste dumps from their mining operations (Ether 10:23). The Jaredites also erected stone monuments (stelae) to memorialize their rulers (at least in the case of Coriantumr, Omni 20-22).   They constructed a great city by the narrow neck of land between the land northward and the land southward (Ether 10:20).  But (and this is very important), there is no record of any Jaredite city being built in the land southward. The land southward was maintained solely as a wilderness for hunting (Ether 10:21).”
The Olmec influence covered much of Mesoamerica, but their specific Olmec sites covered far into the Mesoamerican Land Southward
Response: The last remark should eliminate all discussion about the Mesoamerican Olmecs being the Jaredites, for the Olmecs built some cities in the Land Southward, including La Venta, San Andres, Arroyo Sonso, and Chiapa de Corzo, Tenochtitlan, Potreto Nuevo, El Manati, El Azuzul, and Las Lijmas.
For clarification, the ancient Peruvians built many mighty cities, and spacious buildings, and that the people covered the face of the earth. They also built out of stone, their cities, dwellings and trade routes were connected by extensive highways and roads, they were skilled in mining, metallurgy and textiles, and erected stone monuments to their god and rulers, and built enormous fortresses, resorts and outpost forts.
For additional clarification, the Andean area, from southern Colombia to northern Chile, from western Bolivia to Ecuador and Peru, has all the earmarks of the scriptural record for both the Jaredite and Nephite building, roads, metallurgy, ore, textiles, fortresses, etc., as the scriptural record points out.  One can say they doubt the Nephites built out of stone, but the scriptural record simply does not back up that belief. And the experience of Nephi working timbers and building a ship not like that of men should suggest to even the most resistant that the Nephites were learned and capable of building beyond that of other peoples of the same era.
The point is, with all their experience with stone buildings, at least they had knowledge of such stone buildings in Mesopotamia and the building techniques of the great Tower, so why would we expect they would not use stone in the Land of Promise. Certainly they would have had huge numbers, with the size of families they had (Eher 6:20, 7:2), and they lived long lives (Ether 7:1).
Comment #33: “You talk about building with stone, but early man built out of wood. Stone building was probably rare, and isolated to areas like Egypt where they had no wood” Emmett G.
Response: Perhaps it might seem like that, however, the reality is early man all over the world built with stone, even in areas where there was plenty of wood. In fact, one of the oldest and longest lasting building materials known to man is stone, which has stood the test of time.
One of the oldest buildings in the world was that of Barnenez in Northern Finistere, France, built in 4850 B.C. It is 236 feet long, 82 feet wide and over 26 feet high and made completely of stone
Other areas where prehistoric stone buildings were constructed are found in Peru (3500 B.C.), Pakistan (2600 B.C.), Malta (3700 B.C.), England (3650 B.C.), Denmark (3000 B.C.), Russia (3000 B.C.), India (2650 B.C.), Spain (2000 B.C.), Wales (2000 B.C.), Iraq (1400 B.C.), Iran (1250 B.C.), Sweden (1000 B.C.), Mexico (800 B.C.), Turkey (750 B.C.), Bulgaria (400 B.C.), and numerous sites within many of these countries, plus those below:
Top Left: Stone houses, Dunbeg Fort, Ireland, 500 B.C.; Top Right: Stone houses at Nuraghe, Sardina, Italy, 1900-730 B.C.; Center Left: Stone buildings at Nawamis in Sinai, 4000-3150 B.C., Center Right: Knap Howar, Orkney, Scotland, 3700-2800 B.C.; Bottom Left: The workshop of Pheidias, Olympia, Greece, 500 B.C.; Bottom Right: Round houses made of stone and mud with a wood roof, 3800-2500 B.C., Lempa, Cyprus
There is no question that building with stone began in the earliest prehistoric periods and continued onward through all ages and in many parts of the world.

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