Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Did the Nephites Build out of Stone? Part VI

In the first three of these posts we discussed the facts and scriptures surrounding the Nephite building materials. In the last two posts we have answered the specific statements about not using stone and clarifying the point. We continue here:
Comment #14: “Moroni's fortifications during the wars with Amalikiah were principally of earth and timbers (Alma 50:1-4).”
Response: The account actually begins two chapters earlier, when Amalickiah first obtains the Lamanite kingdom and began a propaganda program to convince the Lamanites to go to war against the Nephites (Alma 48:1). With a desire to “overpower the Nephites and bring them into bondage” (Alma 48:4), he appointed Zoramite captains over the Lamanites because they were “the most acquainted with the strength of the Nephites, and their places of resort, and the weakest parts of their cities (Alma 48:5), and moved the Lamanite camp toward Zarahemla, ready for war (Alma 48:6). However, unknown to Amalickiah, Moroni had not been idle—he had been preparing the minds of the Nephites to be faithful to the Lord (Alma 48:7).
In this preparation, Moroni “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). He also moved his men about, strengthening all places equally, and “thus he did fortify and strengthen the land which was possessed by the Nephites” (Alm 48:9).
A small hilltop outpost, or resort, of Huillca Raccay in Peru that overlooks the valley below, to warn of an approaching enemy force
During the entire next year, the Nephite defenses kept the Lamanites at bay and little by little, the Lamanites were defeated in their numerous attempts to capture one of the Nephite cities. Once the Lamanites fled back to their lands, Moroni continued to reinforce his earlier efforts. After building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land, he then set out strengthen individual areas by digging up heaps of earth round about all the cities, throughout all the land which was possessed by the Nephites. And upon the top of these ridges of earth he caused that there should be timbers, yea, works of timbers built up to the height of a man, round about the cities. And he caused that upon those works of timbers there should be a frame of pickets built upon the timbers round about; and they were strong and high (Alma 50:1-3). Obviously, Moroni “left no stone unturned,” as it were in his preparations, and “Thus Moroni did prepare strongholds against the coming of their enemies, round about every city in all the land” Alma 50:6).
Comment #15: Moroni's fortifications during the wars with Amalikiah were principally of earth and timbers (Alma 50:1-4). “Although on one occasion he does mention building "walls of stone" (Alma 48:8) but this seems to have been the exception.”
Response: Along this line, we are left to wonder what Moroni used as the foundation for the city named after him (Alma 50:13) since stone or rock is not mentioned. And we are also left to wonder if Moroni’s armies fired any arrows back at attacking Lamanites since only throwing stones is mentioned (Alma 50:5). Also, one might wonder after Mormon mentioned once about Moroni 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), didn’t bother to mention it again—do you think it was because it was but an “after thought” or that it was just “an exception”?
Another small hilltop outpost fort overlooking the valley below at Pisac, Peru
Comment #16: “John Gee makes some good points regarding Nephite buildings.  "It is a common trap to assume that because the Maya produced impressive architecture, beautiful artwork, and intriguing writing they must somehow be connected with the Nephites. In the Old World, the Egyptians hold a similar position to the Maya in the New World. By comparison, the Israelites produced less impressive architecture, cruder artwork, and a less elegant script than the Egyptians; they did, however, produce the Bible.”
Response: The Egyptians were rather isolated in the Fertile Crescent, being at its far bottom; however, the Jews were right in the middle of it, and wanted by both those north, west and south of them and were involved heavily in maintaining their peace. Also, for many of those years, they were under tribute to, and paying vast amounts of money to, another foreign power. Yet, with all the problems they had, including internal civil wars, they built a Temple that was the envy of much of the world, and an impressive city on a hill that was a light to all. And, yes, they did produce the Bible, one of the greatest written works the world as ever known.
Comment: #17: During the terrible destruction at the crucifixion of Christ, many of the Nephite cities were burned. As mentioned earlier, this would suggest wooden construction.”
Response: No, it suggests that a fire in a stone building burns the supporting roof structure and the higher floors cave in.
Left: Stone buildings catch fire since some of their construction is timber, for supports, ceiling, roof, and stairs; note it is still standing and the stone walls are not on fire; Right: A stone structure on fire…again, the stone is not on fire, only the wooden support structures
Comment #18: “The Nephites may not have been that much different from their Israelite ancestors; at least evidence indicates this is the case. Nephite architecture, for example, need not be as elaborate, impressive, or durable as Maya architecture.”
Response: Since Mesoamerica was not the Land of Promise, this and following comments seem unnecessary to answer, but we will anyway. The Maya architecture is impressive, but not as much as that of Andean South America—it is just better known with more, and less informed, LDS promoters. Knowledgeable historians and archaeologists who have studied both areas always write about being more impressed with the Andean area.
Comment #19: “While the Maya are noted for their limestone-block-over-rubble-core construction with limestone plaster overlays, building with stone is mentioned only once in the Book of Mormon and only for city walls (see Alma 48:8).”
Response: Actually, it is mentioned in connection with defensive walls and positions—something South America is famous for. It might be of interest to readers to know that neither the term “wood fence” or “wood fencing,” is anywhere in the scriptural record. Wood is not mentioned at all in Alma, but the term “frame of pickets built upon the timbers” is found (Alma 50:3), and a “breastwork of timbers” (53:4). The term timber used in conjunction with walls is used only once (Alma 53:4). Or stated differently, the term “wood” or “timber” is never used in conjunction with any building anywhere outside the Land Northward on that one occasion. So exactly what case are we making here?
(See the next post, “Did the Nephites Build out of Stone? Part VII,” for more on the building of the Jaredites and the Nephites)

No comments:

Post a Comment