Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Story of Coriantumr and the End of the Jaredite Nation – Part III

Continuing from the last post, when Limhi’s 43-man expeditionary force failed to find Zarahemla, they discovered in a Land of Many Waters the remains of a large civilization. In addition to the ruins of numerous buildings, they found, a land which was covered with dry bones (Mosiah 21:26).
The words “dry bones” is Mormon’s insertion—he never saw the bones (he wrote about 500 years later) and we don’t know if the word “dry” was part of the original record or Mormon’s explanation that the bones were old, etc. In any event, using the term “dry bones,” means the bones were “without a trace of moisture,” that is, there was no moisture in the bone, meaning the bodies were long dead.
Ezekiel uses the same term: “The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.  He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.  He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.” In this exchange, both the prophet Ezekiel and the Lord used the term “dry bones,” obviously to show they were dead and had no possibility of life.
Ezekiel saw a valley full of dry bones
As an example of Mormon changing or adding a word of explanation, he describes the plates of Ether being of pure gold (Mosiah 8:9), but later on, when he is recapping the event, he calls them plates of ore (Mosiah 21:27). All gold is ore, but not all ore is gold. However, continuing with the term dry bones, the date at the foot of the Book of Mormon indicates that these events occurred “about 121 BC.” 
Most of the Theorists of the Book of Mormon have settled on Meso- or Central America for the location of the Land of Promise and, therefore, use that clime to discuss these bones. However, it is a humid, wet, semi-tropical land, and there is no indication that such was the land in which the Jaredites died. If they lived in Ecuador, in the higher mountains, the land there is not wet, humid and semi-tropical, so this example does not hold true. In fact, bones in a dry, arid desert-like area, can last for centuries.
After a lengthy war that left bones of men, women and children scattered across the land, including those of beasts, we might discount much in the way of animals scavenging about. No doubt most of the animal life had long been used for food by these armies that totaled in the millions. Therefore most of the biological decomposition would have come from natural causes of bacteria.
One Theorist on this subject wrote: “We can safely assume that within one hundred years all evidence of the Jaredite bones which had been on the surface would have disappeared. So if we take 121 BC as the date of the Limhite discovery, then the earliest date of the last battle would have been 221 BC. It could easily have been much later.” However, that is simply not the case. While one can cite numerous studies on how fast decomposition takes place, bones have been found to show the opposite and sometimes lengthy time frames.
150 years after the battle at Spottsylvania Court House, bones still lay sprawled on the ground in dense wooded areas. Note bones of skull and legs in bottom foreground
Bones have been found in the Arizona desert of cavalrymen who fought the Apache dating to the late 1880s—that is 120 years ago. Human bones dated to 160,000 years old were found in Herto, Ethiopia, and two human skulls named Omo I and Omo II, dated to 196,000 years old were found in Africa, the skeleton of “Lucy” is claimed to be 3.2 million years old, the skeleton of “Ardi,” and the bones of at least 36 other individuals and some 6,000 animals, are claimed to be 4.4 million years old, the skull of “Chad” is said to be 6 million years old, and Paleontologists have recovered animal fossils they claim are half a billion years old. The idea that bones completely decompose in 30 years is totally unrealistic and without scholarly merit.
The reason Theorists want to set such time frames is to show that their pre-determined model is correct. So let us take a look at this time frame of the Mulekites (People of Zarahemla), which most Theorists claim landed in the Land Northward and traveled south into the Land of Zarahemla and settled there, though Omni 1:16 tells us differently.
Archaeologists pulled a metric ton of cattle bones from an ancient Corinth theater, dating back to the 4th and 5th centuries A.D. In addition, baby bones were uncovered on the floor of a workshop in Tuscany dating to 7th Century B.C.
The first mention of the Land Northward in the scriptural record is when Mormon inserts an explanation of the division of land in Alma 22. We know the Nephites in general knew about those who had died in the Land Northward in 72 B.C. (Alma 46:22), and Mormon again describes the Land Northward among the Nephite possessions at that time (Alma 50:11). Also, Morianton planned to flee into the Land Northward with his followers in 67 B.C. (Alma 50:31), though it appears from further reading that the Nephites in general had not occupied the Land Northward as yet, which may be why the Lamanites had a plan to march into the Land Northward the following year (Alma 52:2), but gave up the idea when Teancum was sent by Moroni to block any passage into the Land Northward (Alma 52:9).
While Hagoth built his shipyard near the narrow neck, it is not until 54 B.C. that we are told Nephites actually went into the Land Northward to occupy the land (Alma 63:9). Eight years later, in 46 B.C., many Nephites went into the Land Northward “to inherit the land” (Helaman 3:3), and went so far northward, they came to the land of many waters (Helaman 3:4). From this time onward, the Land Northward is obviously considered part of the Nephite Nation.
According to this, then, for the first 470 years, the Nephites did not know there was a Land Northward (Mosiah 8:8), and did not occupy the Land Northward for the first 530 years or more. Almost all of the activity around the narrow neck of land takes place in the final half of the last century B.C.
Left: Ancient Greek swords and daggers found in Mycenae; Right: The ancient Chinese sword of Goujian, king of Yue, 
Theorists also want to make an issue out of the condition of the swords, missing hilts, and breastplates; however, such is a superfluous argument unless one can definitely make a claim regarding where this took place. As an example, an Anatolia sword (one of nine uncovered) believed to be 5000 years old was displayed recently at the Palacongressi in Florence. Bronze daggers dating to the late 4th millennium B.C. and Copper (2300 B.C.) and Bronze swords (1700 B.C.), and others dating to the 1400s B.C., exist today. 500-year–old Swiss steel longswords, and steel Dubrovnik ceremonial swords, exist today. There are literally hundreds of ancient swords in museums around the world, many dating a thousand years or more, to show that swords have been known to survive the flow of time.
As has been stated many times, any effort to try and pinpoint dates for the Jaredite nation is fraught with difficulty, since the record is not that complete, and the events not always that clear, but mostly because it covers a 1500+ year period with no additional information anywhere to compare it against. Nor can we invent another people and claim they were there, etc. Only the few scriptural references to a time (such as in Ether 13), and a laborious effort to log each and every event of Jaredite timing, compare it with Genesis and Abraham, and the Book of Mormon itself, is any possibility of obtaining a remotely significant Jaredite time frame possible.

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