Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Another Question About the Hill Cumorah – Part III

Continuing with the previous post regarding the Hill Cumorah and the questions Mormon’s description raises as we seek to locate the placement of that hill in the Land of Promise:     
    The problem of locating the hill Cumorah lies in three very important facts:
    1. The hill Cumorah was in the Land of Cumorah, which contained a land of many waters, rivers and fountains (Mormon 6:4);

2. The Land of Many Waters was “so far northward” (Alma 22:30) that it was beyond the Land of Desolation (Mormon 4:19-22), from which Mormon and his army had fled northward for quirt some time, perhaps as many as 5 years (375-380 AD), continually marching before the Lamanites (Mormon 6:1);
    3. The Land Northward, home of the Jaredites, contained somewhere in the neighborhood of at least 5 million, and probably closer to 10 million people (Ether 15:2, 11-12, 14-15).
    Thus, the Land Northward was not a small area, and the Land of Many Waters was toward the northernmost parts, and the Land of Cumorah was nearby. With this understanding, we might want to suggest that 90 miles, or a total land of only about 100-120 miles north to south (the distance from Provo to Fillmore [100], or from Los Angeles to San Diego[120], or from Cedar City to Fillmore [106]) is not a very large area of land, especially when it was narrow as the Land of Promise is described.
    For those who want to place the Book of Mormon hill Cumorah in upstate New York, you might want to consider these three facts, and those outlined in the previous two posts. Just because at some point in time over a 1400 year period, the records Joseph found were deposited in the hill Cumorah, is the hill described so differently in the scriptural record.
There is also another consideration. The Jaredite final battle commenced at the hill the Jaredites called Ramah, which was the same hill the Nephites called Cumorah (Ether 15:11). About this hill both sides gathered together for four years all the Jaredites left on the land except Ether (Ether 15:12, 14). Here tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of Jaredites died in battle during seven days of horrific fighting leaving only 59 still alive (Ether 15:15-25). At this same site, we know that some 300,000 or more Nephites and Lamanites died in battle. Yet, not a single artifact has been found—not arrowheads, nothing in this area where farmers have plowed the land for a century and more.
    Certainly one would think that something would have been found, but locals are adamant that nothing has ever been found on their properties.
    It is interesting that Joseph Allen, David Palmer and V. Garth Norman, all Mesoamericanists, claims as their hill Cumorah, the Hill Vigia, about 60 miles from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec pass in southern Veracruz, an area referred to as a tropical agricultural zone, often called “the Hawaii of Mexico.” This is his hill Cumorah because, among other reasons, it is located in a land of ample water and rich land to sustain the Nephite nation while preparing for the final battle.
The hill Cerro Vigia (“Lookout Hill”) in the Tuxtla Mountain Range. With its many peaks and angles, it is doubtful that a few men standing anywhere on the mountain could see the entire battlefield of dead warriors (Mormon 6:11)
The interesting point is that Mormon and the Nephites were in this area for only a very short time before the Lamanites reached it and the one-day battle took place. It is not likely that forage and water were a major issue at this time. He also claims his hill Vigia is located where Nephites could escape from the final battles and flee into the land southward because of a secluded route along the coast on the east base of the Tuxtla Mountains would be a natural unobstructed escape route to the south.
    An interesting, and superfluous idea, since there were some 400,000 to 500,000 Lamanites in the area. While Mormon mentions a “few” who had escaped into the south countries and a “few” who had defected. We don’t know how many a few are, but it is unlikely they needed a secluded route. More likely, they escaped before the fighting began as they saw the size of the Lamanite army approaching that terrified the Nephites (Mormon 6:8). Besides, it is highly unlikely they could have escaped once the fighting began—simply too many Lamanties looking to kill every Nephite they could see.
According to the Mesoamerican model for the Land of Promise, the Hill Cumorah is about 60 miles beyond the narrow neck of land, but 250 miles from their Land of Many Waters. While Mesoamerica runs east and west, Sorenson and others claim the Nephite “north” was really eastward as this map shows. In any event, they have placed Cumorah nowhere near the Land of Many Waters, which Mormon describes as part of the Land of Cumorah (Mormon 6:4)
But the problem is the distance. Of course, every Mesoamericanist wants to restrict the distance between the narrow neck of land and the hill Cumorah, but the scriptural record does not suggest that. After all, north of the narrow neck was the Land of Desolation, “it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed” (Alma 22:30), referred to as the Land of Many Waters, within which was the Land of Cumorah and the hill Cumorah (Mormon 6:4). There is no suggestion here that this was a short distance. The term “so far northward” does not suggest a short distance.
    In addition, Vigia is about 2400 feet high, and Mesoamericanists claim a person could reach the top in three to four hours; however, after the day’s battle, Mormon was so severly wounded, the Lamanites left him be and continued on past (thousands of Lamanites passed by the spot where Mormon lay). We are not told how he escaped to the hill, and of course others could have carried him, but for a severly wounded man to get up a 2400 foot hill is not very likely. It would seem that an appropriate elevation for the hill Cumorah would be about 1000 foot, ten times higher than the hill Cumorah in upstate New York, yet nowhere near as high as Vigia in Mesoamerica.
The Cerro Vigia area, about six miles from Tres Zapotes, and forty miles from the sea, was continuously occupied from 1000 B.C. to 900 A.D., and there is no evidence that there was a depopulation at any time around 385 A.D. when nearly 500,000 people died at Cumorah. Top two images are differentr view of Vigia, and the bottom is a drawing of two major hills within the mountain range, neither of which matches Mormon’s description
Another point Norman, et all, make is that Vigia was in an area of major civilization occupation during Jaredite times, and a heartland of Olmec civilization with extensive ruins during Nephite times, with subsequent cultures that qualify for Mulekites, and the later Nephite civilization. The point about this is that Mormon would not have chosen a populated area in which to make his final battle, nor could some 500,000 to 600,000 combined forces move about and fight in a populated area or one with numerous ruined buildings. Nor is a populated area listed, shown or suggested during the final Jaredite battles. After all, both Jaredite armies pitched their tents in this area (Mormon 6:4). Depending on how large were the tents and how many men per tent, or the size of the family per tent, one might get the idea that this tentscape covered a very large area around the hill Cumorah, leaving little room for this area to be previously occupied with buildings, etc.
Top, the Tuxtla Mountain Range in the Veracruz region of which Vigia is part. Bottom, the Andes Mountain Range in South America. Which would Samuel the Lamanite suggest were mountains "whose height is great"?
    In addition, Vigia is considered to be located in a region of volcanic and earthquake activity that characterized nearby land Bountiful. The Tuxtla Mountains are a volcanic range that was active in Book of Mormon times. It could also be pointed out that the range of the Andes for more than a thousand miles south of Panama is a continuous range of volcanoes, with the majority located in the area of Ecuador (the Land Northward) and have been and are active since they were formed.
    Once again, we have to recognize that almost any location can be chosen for the Book of Mormon Land of Promise and its various highlighted areas, such as the hill Cumorah, if one picks and chooses those points they wish to use to suggest and prove their model location; however, the point to all of this, and all our blogs, is for any location of any area described by Mormon in the scriptural record, then one must use all of the criteria of description, not just those parts they wish to use.
    As has been said by others, this is not a cafeteria list—you can’t pick and choose. However, all Mesoamericanists and Great Lakes/Heartland, Central and North American theorists do this. They ignore those scriptural references that disagree with their points of view. So we continue to publish what those scriptural references are an show where they are not used and do not support these numerous and erroneous views of those who place the Land of Promise in areas not supported by Mormon's many descriptions and other the scriptural references.

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