Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Narrow Neck of Land One More Time

One of the obvious and inarguable bases of the Mesoamerican Theory is their claim that the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is the narrow neck of land. Different theories regarding Mesoamerica and its Land of Promise configuration can be found, but the major issue of the theory is that this isthmus, which is the narrowest portion of the entire land we call Mesoamerica today, is the basis of their Land of Promise.
In one article by a Mesoamerican Theorist, it is claimed: “The critical criteria for identifying the New World setting for the Book of Mormon prove that Mesoamerica—and only Mesoamerica—is the land of the Book of Mormon; and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is the only narrow neck of land (isthmus) that matches the content of the Book of Mormon and that reflects findings from the archaeological and historical records of Mesoamerica.”  Yet, numerous questions abound about Mesoamerica, with the biggest regarding the directions of the land. The second is the size, shape, and distance of their so-called “narrow neck of land.”
The Mesoamerican narrow neck of land
Mormon describes this narrow neck of land in three ways: 1) It was a separating point between the Land Northward and the Land Southward (Alma 22:32); 2) It was narrow enough for a Nephite to cross in a day and a half (Alma 22:32); and 3) It was narrow enough for the Nephites to use as a guardable passage into the Land Northward (Alma 52:9). It was also significant enough for the Lamanites and Nephites to use as a singular dividing line between the Land Southward and the Land Northward in their treaty (Mormon 2:29). It was obviously the only passage from the Land Southward into the Land Northward (Alma 50:34; 63:5).
This narrow neck played a significant role in the Nephite way of thinking. It was, as Mormon described, a way to keep an enemy from moving into the Land Northward (Alma 22:33). It should be kept in mind that Mormon, among other things, was the commander-in-chief of all the military for about 60 years, beginning at the age of 16 (Mormon 2:2). He saw the land through military eyes, understood the significance of the Nephites’ early decisions, and here applauded their understanding of keeping the Lamanites from gaining any land to the north, especially in getting into the Land Northward. Thus he said, Therefore the Lamanites could have no more possessions only in the land of Nephi, and the wilderness round about. Now this was wisdom in the Nephites -- as the Lamanites were an enemy to them, they would not suffer their afflictions on every hand, and also that they might have a country whither they might flee, according to their desires” (Alma 22:34). Now this “country whither they might flee,” was the Land Northward, and the reason they “might have” this country to the north was because they could guard the narrow neck of land from anyone getting through the narrow pass into the Land Northward (Alma 50:34).
One of the important things to keep in mind is that the Nephites knew it was a narrow neck of land. But how could they have known this? They had no aerial photography or satellite images to show them the land narrowed at this point; consequently, to know it was narrow it had to be so significantly narrow that it could be seen from ground level looking along the coast where the land would have to have been indented. We need to keep in mind that when we look at a map, we can see the coastal lines of any land, country or continent. Over the years, it has become imbedded in the conscious of people that lands indent, thrust or bulge outward, etc. However, to the Nephites, this was not the case. They could tell coastal features only because they could see them, either from the land along the coast, or from their sailing along the coast. Consequently, the indentation of a narrow neck of land had to be significant enough for it to be obvious to the naked eye.
To further understand this, we need to take a look at the incline of the narrow neck compared to the distances involved. As an example, a shoreline whose curvature is gradual over several miles would not be seen from a person looking along the shore.
Top Left: The curving shoreline of a bay is very obvious; Right: Also, the curving shoreline of the coast is obvious, but in neither case can one know it is a narrow neck between two lands; Bottom: A curving shoreline where the other shore is not seen does not look like a narrow neck of land
Naturally, we can look at an aerial view and see its curvature; however, the Nephites had no such advantage. They could stand along the shore and look in both directions, but if the change was not abrupt and noticeable, they would not have known there was a narrowing of the land. Take, as an example, a distance of 200 miles east of Coatzacoalcos (the northern point of the Mesoamericanist's narrow neck of land). This coastline is so straight, it would defy anyone at any point to know that it was narrowing and creating a narrow neck along this distance of the Bay of Campeche from Cuidad del Carmon. On the west side of Coatzacoalcos, the land juts outward and runs for 35 miles, then dips in slightly for the next 30 miles, where it runs for another 100 miles on a straight line before turning outward again. In short, this is a distance of about 375 miles one would have to basically view to know there was a significant narrowing of the coastline.
The Bay of Campeche is to the north, the Gulf of Tehuantepec is to the south
Now, even if that could somehow be seen or understood, there would also have to be some similar understanding of the opposite shore, some 200 miles or more to the south (140 miles at the narrowest point). Here, at the southern point of the so-called narrow neck, an area called San Mateo del Mar (just south of Salina Cruz), there is a basic straight shoreline southward for about 300 miles before the land bends slightly inward and runs straight for another 240 miles. To the north of San Mateo del Mar the shore line just outward and runs straight for about 90 miles to Puerto Angel, before turning and running straight for about 500 miles.
When these two shorelines are seen without their opposite shorelines, it is not possible to think of them as being narrow necks of land. The Nephites would not have seen such slight indentations as a narrow neck of land since they had no aerial or satellite photographs or images to view
Consider that we are dealing with a people who walked or rode horses. It took them some time to cover the mileage along the shoreline—and at no time did they have any elevated vantage point to see more than a few miles at a time. Nor could they have ever seen both shores at once; consequently, there is no chance they ever would have surmised that this Mesoamerican area was a narrow neck or “small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward” (Alma 22:32).
Keep in mind that this distance along the shore is like looking south of Salt Lake City toward St. George and trying to see if there is any change in any topography other than high mountains. Or, in California, looking from San Diego to Santa Barbara and seeing and distinctive curve of the coastline, or from Lompoc to San Francisco. It simply is not possible to see curvature over a great distance, or even a short one where a gradual change takes place. From Redondo Beach in California to Pacific Palisades is about 15 miles where the shore juts suddenly out into the sea, however, along that 15 miles, it is impossible to see this drastic change in the shoreline further away than about 5 miles. This particular point in the shoreline is similar to that of Mesoamerica, yet it does not signify to anyone standing on the shore that it is a narrow neck of land, or even a narrowing of the land—all you see is the land going straight, then bending out into the sea further.
This is the shore along Redondo Beach, which is obviously an indentation from the Palos Verdes Peninsula (foreground)—far more pronounced than Mesoamerica; however, it is not a narrow neck of land, only an indentation in the shoreline

No comments:

Post a Comment