Monday, October 20, 2014

Mormon’s Abridgement Part I – The Cure for Fever

Continuing from the last post regarding the many descriptions Mormon wrote about his land that are vital for us to consider when claiming a current location of that land, we should consider in detail his clear and obvious meaning and not just skip over them. Nor can we ignore them or claim they are unimportant merely because they do not support a personal view or opinion or agree with one’s model of the Land of Promise location. 
    Many of Mormon’s descriptions may seem unimportant and of little value in searching for a land until we consider the full effect and meaning of the statements Mormon made—specifically how they impact a land and what that would mean in our looking for a geographical match.
    As an example, Mormon tells us the Lamanites “came down” from the Land of Nephi into the Land of Zarahemla, such as stated in “Now, if king Amalickiah had come down out of the land of Nephi, at the head of his army, perhaps he would have caused the Lamanites to have attacked the Nephites at the city of Ammonihah; for behold, he did care not for the blood of his people. But behold, Amalickiah did not come down himself to battle. And behold, his chief captains durst not attack the Nephites at the city of Ammonihah, for Moroni had altered the management of affairs among the Nephites, insomuch that the Lamanites were disappointed in their places of retreat and they could not come upon them” (Alma 49:10-11).
    In fact, Mormon uses this “came down” from the Land of Nephi into the Land of Zarahemla 24 times in the book of Alma alone. Obviously, then, we need to recognize that the Land of Nephi was at a much higher elevation than the Land of Zarahemla, and any place we claim to be these two lands, the one must be higher over a large area from the other—significantly higher for Mormon to continually mention it.
Top: The Upper Mississippi, and (Bottom) Lower Mississippi and all along its course is a flat land without a single hill worthy of mentioning. There is no way the Mississippi could have been the location of a significantly elevated land as Mormon describes of the river Sidon
    Thus, when Meldrum in his
Heartland model claims the Mississippi River was the Sidon River, and that his Land of Nephi was to the South of his Land of Zarahemla, it is not at a greater elevation to match Mormon’s description; nor is the area in southern Iowa at a higher elevation than upriver where others claim the city of Zarahemla was located across from Nauvoo. Because of this one fact, these two areas immediately become suspect when one claims they are the Land of Promise. What about Mormon’s description of a higher Land of Promise and coming down from it to do battle in the Land of Zarahemla? Are Meldrum and others simply ignoring these several comments by Mormon?
    So let’s take a look at some of Mormon’s other and sometimes minor descriptions, but ones that give us a clearer understanding of the topography and therefore the geography of the Land of Promise. And in so doing, see whether or not a claimed location could match the area Mormon describes.
As discussed in a recent post, the roads and highways (3 Nephi 6:8) that should be noticeable today in any claimed location of the Land of Promise. Not just roads, but a complete system of ancient "roads" and "highways" that went "from city to city, and from land to land, and from place to place"  in the Land of Promise. That one item alone would eliminate anything in North America and Malay, leaving only Peru, and to a lesser degree, Mesoamerica, and an even lesser degree Central America, the latter two having some roads, but hardly the amount Mormon describes as does Andean Peru.
    So what else did Mormon mention? A rather interesting one is mentioned in Alma. In fact, when Mormon abridged the Book of Alma, he apparently condensed some interesting information regarding the problem the Nephites had with “fevers” during certain times of the year. Writing about “there were many who died,” he goes on to state, “And there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land -- but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate” (Alma 46:40).
    So in the last centuries B.C., what fever might we be talking about? In the ancient middle east, two fevers were common, typhoid and malaria, and elsewhere, a third fever was known, which was yellow fever. However, typhoid, which is caused by a bacteria, does not have a plant or herb cure, and is treated with modern antibiotics which kill the Salmonella bacteria. Prior to the use of antibiotics, the fatality rate was 20%. Death occurred from overwhelming infection, pneumonia, intestinal bleeding, or intestinal perforation. Yellow Fever is a virus and even currently, there is no cure for it—once a person has become infected, the only thing to do is wait for the body to kill the virus.
On the other hand, malaria, which is a parasitic infection spread by Anopheles mosquitoes, is neither a virus nor a bacterium—it is a single-celled Plasmodium parasite that multiplies in red blood cells. Like yellow fever, the prevention of malaria is in eliminating the mosqitoes that cause it. However, once infected, the cure or treatment is only found in the cinchona plant or tree.
    Anciently referred to variously as “Marsh Fever,” “tertian ague,” “acute fever,” and “Roman fever,” the latter was a particularly deadly strain of malaria that affected the Roman Campaigna, and the city of Rome throughout various epochs in history, especially during the sultry summers, where 30,000 died each year. William Shakespeare knew enough about it to mention it in eight of his plays. And for thousands of years, traditional and herbal remedies were used to treat malaria. During the Middle Ages, traditional treatments included blood-letting, inducing vomiting, limb amputations and trepanning: drilling or scraping a hole in the skull). Some turned to witchcraft and astrology. As for herbal remedies, physicians and surgeons as well as folk-healers administered ineffective and often deadly herbs, such as the toxic plant Belladona (deadly nightshade).
    It might be of interest to know that malaria, or “fevers that kill” were not referenced in the “medical books” of the Mayans or Aztecs, while the origin of Plasmodium falciparum in South America shows an old beginning according to archaeological and genetic evidence (Erhan Yalcindag, et al, Multiple independent introductions of Plasmodium falciparum in South America)
Perhaps the most famous case of malaria was that of Alexander the Great who, according to some experts, died of fever in 323 B.C., two weeks after sailing in the marshes to inspect flood defenses (Jonathan Thompson, Disease, not conflict, ended the reign of Alexander the Great). And while the plague of Athens in 430 B.C. is blamed on typhoid fever, this is an epidemic disease and is spread from person to person, while malaria is not, for it can only be transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes.
    It was malaria that was described in 2700 B.C. in ancient Chinese medical writings. Malaria was commonly recognized in Greece as early as the 4th century B.C., and it was the Romans who attributed malarial diseases to the marshlands and set in place a system of draining their swamps.
    Malaria is among the oldest of maladies, a widespread and potentially lethal human infectious disease. At its peak malaria infested every continent, except Antarctica, and even by the close of the 20th century, malaria remained endemic in more than 100 countries throughout the tropical and subtropical zones, including large areas of Central and South America, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Africa, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Oceania. The latest statistics show that 207 million cases of malaria were reported in 2012, which killed as many as 789,000 people.
    The seriousness of malarial fever has always been well understood. It was the most important health hazard encountered by U.S. troops in the South Pacific during World War II, where about 500,000 men were infected. According to Joseph Patrick Byrne (Encyclopedia of Pestilence, Pandemics, and Plagues), "Sixty thousand American soldiers died of malaria during the African and South Pacific campaigns." Before that, malaria decimated the armies of both the North and South during the American Civil War.
    After the link to mosquitoes and their parasites were identified in the early twentieth century, mosquito control prevention measures such as widespread use of pesticide, swamp drainage, covering or oiling the surface of open water sources, indoor residual spraying and use of insecticide treated nets was initiated.
However, the treatment and cure was found only in Prophylactic quinine—the only natural cure in the entire world until the 20th century. Quinine, of course, comes only from the natural ground up bark of the cinchona tree—a tree found only in the area of Andean Peru and Bolivia. This quinine was the first and only effective treatment for malaria until it was synthesized in the middle of the 20th century.
    So one would think, that after Mormon tells us that the fever that killed many Nephites was not so deadly “because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases,” we need only look to where the quinine-producing cinchona tree grew during Nephite times to see where the Land of Promise would be located.
    This cinchona tree and its herbal produced quinine was known to the ancient Peruvians of the Andes dating back into B.C. times, where the cinchona tree grew only in Andean Peru until the Dutch pirated cuttings out of South America in the 19th century and planted them in Indonesia. Up until then, quinine was available only to the Peruvians, who used it for the cure and treatment of fever by grinding up its bark and producing the bitter crystalline compound.
    It would seem, then, if one is going to claim a place as the Land of Promise, one might want to consider the fact malaria is a deadly fever, and is the only fever that can be treated or cured by herbal (plant) means, and that herbal cure is quinine, which is the only cure for malarial fever (and numerous other ailments), and is indigenous only to Andean Peru. No other herb or plant contains quinine, and only quinine has been found to cure or effectively treat malarial fever.  Thus, Mormon’s description of an item in the Land of Promise can only be found in Andean Peru.
(See the next post for another of these Land of Promise factors described by Mormon that should help on to understand where the Land of Promise was located)

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