Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Criteria for the Book of Mormon Lands – Part II

Continuing with the list of 16 items that a Land of Promise location must meet, the first five were covered in the last post, with number six beginning below:
 (6)  A small, narrow neck of land dividing the land Northward from the land Southward (Alma 22:32, Heleman 3:8, Ether 10:20)
There is absolutely no possible “small, narrow neck of land” found anywhere in Mesoamerica. The Isthmus of Tehuantepec is 120 miles as the crow flies, but according to government listing, is approximately 144 miles across by land, and it is barely discernable visually from the ground or hilltops and can be recognized only through satellite photography and modern maps. Certainly no Nephite could cross that distance in a day and a half travel (Alma 22:32). On the other hand, there is a 26-mile wide narrow neck of land along the border of Peru and Ecuador, east of the Bay of Guayaquil that has been shown and written about in previous posts extensively. 26 miles would certainly fit a day and a half travel, which would be an average of about a mile and a half per hour for 18 hours, whereas 144 miles would be 8 miles per hour average for 18 hours. Besides, that wide of a narrow neck would not be defensible against another force, nor can it be said it is a narrow strip between two seas (Alma 50:34).
(7)  Multiple, functional Calendar and Dating Systems. Left: Aztec calendar; Right: Mayan calendar. The Aztec of Mexico date to the 14th thru 16th centuries A.D. On the other hand, the Maya are claimed to have lived in Guatemala and Yucatan from 3114 B.C. (when the Mayan calendar is said to begin), which would mean they were there about 800 years before the Flood, which casts the entire Maya culture time line in doubt; however, actual records of Mayan cities date from about 250 A.D. to 900 A.D., in which case their calendar would have been toward the end of the Nephite period; it should also be noted that the Maya calendar is claimed to have not been originated by them, but they developed it
Response: This is not a scripturaly supportable concept found in the scriptural record. There is no mention of a calendar or dating system in the Book of Mormon. The dates they use were: 1] Years from the time they left Jerusalem (2 Nephi 5:28; 3 Nephi 1:1; Jacob 1:1; Enos 1:25; Jarom 1:5; Omni 1:3); 2] The reign of Alma in the judgement seat (Alma 1:1); 3] The reign of the judges (Alma 50:35; Helaman 16:24); 4] The year of a certain judge (3 Nephi 1:1); 5] The days of a king (1 Nephi 1:4; 3 Nephi 2:5); 6] Sign given of Christ (3 Nephi 2:7-8; 8:1-2); 7] From the coming of Christ (4 Nephi 1:21, 48; Mormon 8:6; Moroni 10:1); 8] Length of time a Prophet kept the record (4 Nephi 1:20); 9] Age of a certain person (Mormon 1:3); 10] From the time of a battle (Mormon 3:1); 11] Time of dwelling in a land (Mosiah 9:14). The point of all is simply that we are not told in the scriptural record if the Nephites used any regular calendar system, that is, an ongoing yearly system such as the Jewish lunisolar calendar (our 2013 is their year 5774), or the Julian calendar (begun 45 B.C.), or Gregorian calendar (begun 1582), etc.
In fact, as a side note, when Mosiah discovered Zarahemla, the people told of the Jaredite Coriantumr living among them “and he dwelt with them for the space of nine moons” (Omni 1:21). If anyone should wonder why the term “moon” was used to describe month, we only need to recognize that the Jewish calendar used during Lehi’s time was a lunisolar calendar, meaning that months were based on lunar months, but years were based on solar years. Since the Nephites measured their month on a lunar basis (nine moons as shown), one must conclude they were using the day, month and year calendar of the Jews, with the above event dating system (dating time from certain events). Such a system can be found in almost all cultures of antiquity. In the Peruvian Andes, numerous observatories have been found that dated days, months and years. Chinkillo in the Peruvian coastal desert is just one (see numerous articles on this subject in previous posts).
(8)  Merchant Class Using Weights and Measures tied to gold, silver and grain (Alma 11)
Response: First of all, this information has nothing to do with “merchants” or the “merchant class,” since merchants are those who buy and sell goods. Mormon is writing about Zeezrom a lawyer, and the lawyer-judge group, or Professional Class. Secondly, the entire concept stated above is based on a misunderstanding of Mormon’s insertion into Alma’s record. See a follow-up post “Understanding the Nephite Monetary System,” for more on this and a comparison with Mesoamerica.
(9)  Engineers to Build Temples, Towers, and Highways, using Cement 
Response: First of all, only in the Land Northward is there any mention of using cement for such building, and that was only temporary. And not even there was cement mentioned in conjunction with road building. As for stonemasons, walls, buildings, towers, and roads, the work found in the Peruvian Andes is unequaled anywhere in the Americas, with the greatest engineering fetes in all the Americas is found in the Peruvian Andean area.
The Peruvian Andean roads were so impressive to the conquering Spanish that they compared them very favorably with those of Rome
Throughout this area of Peru are 1) Engineered walls of carved and dressed stone used in perfect fits without mortar, 2) Mortared walls and buildings, 3) Mud-brick buildings plastered over with a stucco cement. These areas, such as Sacsayhuaman, Kuelap, and Ollantaytambo are considered engineering marvels unequaled anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere, which astounded the conquering Spanish and later chroniclers. As for the term “cement” used by Joseph Smith in his translation, what we know as cement today (Portland Cement) was not invented until 1824 in England, and reinforced concrete invented in 1849 in Paris, and was first shown at the Paris Exposition in 1867. When Joseph Smith was translating, the word “cement” meant “any glutinous or other substance capable of uniting bodies in close cohesion, as mortar, glue, seder, etc.” In building “cement” in this time “denoted a stronger kind of mortar,” and was a powder or paste. We should not think of a cement building like that built today with reinforced steel rods, and poured between wooden or metal forms. That idea was simply unknown at this point in time.
(10)  Highly-skilled Craftsmen - working with Precious Metals, Stonework (Hel.6:11)
The stonework of ancient Peruvian masons is unequaled anywhere in the Western Hemisphere and hardly anywhere in the world. Its dressed and cut stones, fitted at odd angles, some stones with up to twelve cuts or more, many weighing 50 tons or more and some as much as 200 tons is beyond comparison elsewhere. This is far beyond stacking stones, such as in Mesoamerica. Peruvian's cutting and fitting stones perfectly without mortar has stumped builders even today
Response: Nowhere in all of the Americas is stonework more expertly worked than in the Pervuian Andes. While the impressive stonework in Mesoamerica is basically stacked blocks, the stonework of Peru was worked by experts without parallel in the Western Hemisphere. Their carved and dressed stone, cut and fitted so expertly without mortar that a piece of paper could not be placed between them, is the marvel of engineers even today. As for metalwork, the Peruvian Andes metallurgy dates back into the first millennium B.C., while metallurgy in Mesoamerica began only around 600-900 A.D.
(11)  Warrior Society - Great Battles, Structured Armies, Sophisticated Fortifications
As previous posts have shown, the fortresses and resorts found all through the Peruvian Andes is remarkable for their extensive fortifications. Even the conquering Spanish called most of the Andean fortresses “citadels,” meaning a strongly fortified castle. The same is not found anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere. In addition, the structured armies of Peru and the Andes dates back into B.C. times, with evidences of battles throughout the entire area that the Inca later conquered.
(12)  Legends of a White and Bearded God
The legends of Viracocha (Creator of all things) also called Wiracocha, Apu Qun Tiqsi Wiraquira and Con-Tici (Kon Tiki) of the Peruvian Andes and throughout nearly all cultures, speaks of a white and bearded god, who wore long robes, and was “great, all knowing, all powerful, etc.” Spanish chroniclers Pedro Cieza de Leon and Pedro Samiento de Gamboa, wrote of “Viracocha, the White God,” often describing him as tall with a beard.
(See the next post, “Criteria for the Book of Mormon Lands – Part III,” for the continuation of these sixteen points)

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