Wednesday, January 1, 2014

So Where is the Land of Promise? – Part VII

Continuing from the last six posts, listing actual descriptions in the Book of Mormon and how any Land of Promise model should match all of those listed in that scriptural record.     
    Earlier posts in this series have covered 1) Mountains, “whose height is great”; 2) Two unknown animals; 3) Two unknown grains; 4) Plants that cure fever; 5) Land of promise as an island; 6) The four seas surrounding the Land of Promise; 7) the Climate where Lehi’s seeds grew that he brought to the Land of Promise from Jerusalem; 8) Roads and Highways; 9) Driven before the wind; 10) Lehi’s Course to the Land of Promise; 11) Both Gold and Silver and Copper; 12) Hagoth’s ships went northward; 13) Forts, fortifications and resorts; 14) Fortified wall; 15) Narrow neck of land; 16) Defendable narrow pass or passage, and 17) the sea that divides the land.
    Following are more descriptions found in the scriptural record:
    Another description is regarding the many buildings constructed in the Land of Promise. The first mention of these buildings are those of the Jaredites. Mosiah’s 42 man expedition to find Zarahemla became lost and wandered into the Land Northward, “having traveled in a land among many waters, having discovered a land which was covered with bones of men, and of beasts, and was also covered with ruins of buildings of every kind, having discovered a land which had been peopled with a people who were as numerous as the hosts of Israel” (Mosiah 8:8).
Vast cities were built in the Land of Promise. In the Land Northward there were buildings of every kind. In the Land Southward, there were “great” cities, including Zarahemla, the capitol. Some of these cities stood for over a thousands years among the Jaredites, and 500 or 600 years among the Nephites
    When Zeniff returned with his group to reclaim the city of Lehi-Nephi in about 200 B.C., they “began to build buildings, and to repair the walls of the city, yea, even the walls of the city of Lehi-Nephi, and the city of Shilom” (Mosiah 9:8). Zeniff’s grandson, king Noah, “built many elegant and spacious buildings; and he ornamented them with fine work of wood, and of all manner of precious things, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of brass, and of ziff, and of copper” (Mosiah 11:8), which included “a spacious palace, and a throne in the midst thereof, all of which was of fine wood and was ornamented with gold and silver and with precious things” (Mosiah 11:9). He also had his workmen create all manner of fine work within the walls of the temple, of fine wood, and of copper, and of brass” (Mosiah 11:10). He also “caused many buildings to be built in the land Shilom” (Mosiah 11:13).
    The city of Zarahemla was the capital of the Nephite Nation (Helaman 1:27). Nephi had his house along the highway that led to the city of Zarahemla, and he had a tower there (Helaman 7:10). Zarahemla was called a great city (Helaman 13:12), the “strongest hold,” meaning fortified city, in all the land (Helaman 1:22), it had a prison, was burned during destruction (3 Nephi 8:8), and rebuilt (4 Nephi 1:8). We also see that there were houses, cities and temples, as well as synagogues, sanctuaries and all manner of buildings (Helaman 3:9); they had houses built of cement (Helaman 3:9), and many cities of wood and cement (Helaman 3:11).
    It would seem obvious that such buildings, or remnants of them, would be visible today. Nor were these small areas that could easily have been overlooked for several cities were called “great,” (3 Nephi 8:24-25), even by the Lord (3 Nephi 9:3-5,9). The word “great” was defined in 1829 as: “Large in bulk or dimensions; a term of comparison, as in beyond what is usual; Being of extended length or breadth; Vast; extensive.” The sense of great is to be understood by the things it is intended to qualify; a great city is intended to convey huge, extensive, important; superior, preeminent.
    Again, there should be some prominent cities left to ruin that can be seen today in the area of the Land of Promise. And as such, there are only two areas in the Western Hemisphere where this is found: Andean Peru in South America, and Mesoamerica. There are no such ruins found in North America, or in any of the other suggested Land of Promise locations.
Ruins of buildings and walls found all over Andean Peru dating to Nephite times
    More descriptive statements have to do with towers. We find that in the Land of Promise, “And it came to pass that he caused many buildings to be built in the land Shilom; and he caused a great tower to be built on the hill north of the land Shilom” (Mosiah 11:13). The towers were of such height, that “when the king saw that he was about to overpower him, he fled and ran and got upon the tower which was near the temple. And Gideon pursued after him and was about to get upon the tower to slay the king, and the king cast his eyes round about towards the land of Shemlon, and behold, the army of the Lamanites were within the borders of the land” (Mosiah 19:5-6), and “Limhi had discovered them from the tower, even all their preparations for war did he discover; therefore he gathered his people together, and laid wait for them in the fields and in the forests.” (Mosiah 20:8).
Nor were these towers just in a local place, for we find that “it came to pass also, that he caused the title of liberty to be hoisted upon every tower which was in all the land, which was possessed by the Nephites; and thus Moroni planted the standard of liberty among the Nephites” (Alma 46:36), and “And he caused towers to be erected that overlooked those works of pickets, and he caused places of security to be built upon those towers, that the stones and the arrows of the Lamanites could not hurt them” (Alma 5):4). Even in the Nephite cities of the dissenters, towers had been built, “And the remainder of those dissenters, rather than be smitten down to the earth by the sword, yielded to the standard of liberty, and were compelled to hoist the title of liberty upon their towers, and in their cities, and to take up arms in defence of their country” (Alma 51:20).
    Nor were these towers only in the Nephite lands, but also among the Lamanites, “And now it came to pass that, as soon as Amalickiah had obtained the kingdom he began to inspire the hearts of the Lamanites against the people of Nephi; yea, he did appoint men to speak unto the Lamanites from their towers, against the Nephites” (Alma 48:1).
    It is interesting that Mormon uses the term “tower,” since that is a significantly different construction from their a houses, villages, cities, synagogues or sanctuaries. The meaning of tower in 1829 was “A building, either round or square, raised to a considerable elevation and consisting of several stories. When towers are erected with other buildings, as they usually are, they rise above the main edifice. They are generally flat on the top, and thus differ from steeples or spires. Before the invention of guns, places were fortified with towers.”
    It is also interesting that the main description given us of a Nephite tower was the one king Noah built in the city of Nephi, “he built a tower near the temple; yea, a very high tower, even so high that he could stand upon the top thereof and overlook the land of Shilom, and also the land of Shemlon” (Mosiah 11:12). This tower was so positioned that from the top could be seen the entrances to the city and the far off lands of Nephite controlled Shilom, and Lamanite controlled Shemlon. Such a “very high tower” would have been built of stone, and it would have had some height vantage where it could see beyond the city and into other lands, “even all the land round about.” And it was next to the temple—the temple Nephi earlier built like unto Solomon’s (2 Nephi 5:16).
    Obviously, such a structure ought to have some remnant of its existence found today in the Land of Promise. And such is in Andean Peru.
    When the conquistadors first arrived in the area now known as Cuzco, they were awed by the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, and a tall, round tower beside the “temple” on a far hill overlooking the city “and the land round about.” They described it as being made of stone, four stories tall, with a flat roof upon which people could stand. This tower was the later site of the Inca’s last stand against the invaders.
Top: Aerial view of Sacsayhuaman situated on a hill overlooking Cuzco. The fortress contained the fort or a large building and basement with a labrynth of rooms, a temple, a tower (now just a base), and an outer wall; Bottom: All that is left today is this remaining base of the tower discovered in 1934 next to the temple of Sacsayhuaman. The Muyuq Marka consists of three concentric, circular stone walls connected by a series of radial walls and a web-like pattern of 34 lines intersecting at the center and a pattern of concentric circles that corresponded to the location of the circular walls
    Originally, the Myuqmarka (tower) was a building with 4 superposed floors. The first body would have had a square floor; the second would have been cylindrical; the third would have had also a cylindrical shape. The successive would have formed circular cultivation terraces with decreasing width, being the widest of 3.6 m and the narrowest of 3 m. The tower would have ended up in a conic ceiling. Muyu Marca must have reached a total height of 20 meters. It was as amazing work that generated the admiration of several chroniclers. The Spaniards destroyed it, in spite of the protests both from Cieza and Inca Garcilaso.
Left: Sacsayhuaman sitting on top of the hill with a sheer cliff on one side and a three tier rock wall protecting the other. The view from the tower overlooking Cuzco and the “land round about” is obvious. Right: A second tower in Cuzco, the base is still visible as the foundation upon which the Spanish built a Cathedral
    Obviously, then, any true Land of Promise must match all of the descriptions listed in the Book of Mormon—it is not a pick and choose arrangement in selecting those that agree with your point of view, but must match all of the descriptions, beginning with these first 19 covered in these seven posts.
(See the next post, “So Where is the Land of Promise? – Part VIII,” for more of these descriptions as listed in the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon)

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