Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Remarkable Roads and Bridges of Peru—Part II

Continuing with the previous post regarding the magnificent road system the Nephites built that went from city to city, from land to land and from place to place (3 Nephi 6:8). Again, it is obvious that any Land of Promise location today would show some remains of these roads that Mormon describes. And as pointed out in the last post, the areas of Mesoamerica and Andean Peru are the only two locations in the Western Hemisphere that have ancient paved roads dating to Nephite times, with those in Peru far more descriptive of the scriptural record. 
    These Andean roads were well made, like those the Romans built, with a multi-layered foundation of lower statumen, lined with stone fillers and filled with rubble of broken stones, a bedding of fine rock with a dorsum or agger of leveled rock for the surface. Miles and  miles of these roads are still visible today where they have not been incorporated into modern roads and highways or fallen prey to city expansion.
Despite the harsh climate in the Andes, or the flow of rivers, earthquakes, and other weather over the centuries, the ancient roads of Peru that date back to Nephite times are still in use today throughout Andean Peru and, in many cases, are still in excellent condition
Upper Left: Many roads incorporated aqueduct channels for the flow of irrigation water; Middle: Many roads were stepped to rise up hillsides or through mountains; Bottom: Some roads were raised on platforms through the hills, swamps or along the coasts
Remarkably, these ancient roads were meticulously made, with some lined on each side to preserve their integrity in the climate or weather conditions, and many were laid out in a straight course as much as the topography would allow
These roads went from place to place. Here showing a branch of one road (yellow arrow) which goes over the mountain, with another branch or road (red arrow) heading down the mountain in a different direction to another place
Many ancient roads were so expertly made that they have been turned into modern roads with asphalt laid over the ancient road bed. Even today, these roads are narrow and obviously were not meant for vehicles, but foot traffic. They are so dangerous for vehicles that accidents are common
    In Egypt at the time of Lehi and long before, paved roads were part of temple complexes, some overlaid with stone, such as the Dimai in the Fayum where the temple was reached over a stone paved road, and where the temple complex built in 2000 B.C. by Mentuhotep II at Deir el Bahri, was described by Herodotus as “The entrance to it is by a road paved with stone for a distance of about three furlongs, which passes straight through the market-place with an easterly direction, and is about four hundred feet in width” (Histories 2.138).
    It seems safe to assume, then, that Lehi, Sam and Nephi would have known of such things, especially Lehi who had dealings with the Egyptians and learned from them what is called Reformed Egyptian language in the scriptural record. Such knowledge, coupled with the advanced building of stone houses, temples and public buildings existing in Jerusalem long before their time, would have been the foundation of their development in the Land of Promise. While most Theorists think the Nephites built out of unstable and flimsy wood that did not last,it seems far more likel that Nephi, coming from a very old society with a history of stone work in private and public buildings as well as roads and streets, would have taught his people how to build the same while he was teaching them:
    “And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance. And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon's temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine. And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cause my people to be industrious, and to labor with their hands” (2 Nephi 5:15-17, emphasis mine).
This is the Jerusalem Nephi would have known before leaving in 600 B.C.
    To think that Nephi built houses, temples and other buildings out of wood, rather than out of stone to which he was far more knowledgeable, seems to place him in a backward state once he left Jerusalem and came to the Land of Promise. After all, when he says, “save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land,” he certainly would not have been referring to stone or rock since that is available almost anywhere except in a desert—and then wood is not available there, either. And when he says, “But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine,” one should consider that what Nephi would have thought was “exceedingly fine,” having seen Solomon’s Temple, and knowing how it was built of stone and well made to last many lifetimes and representative of a temple worthy of God, would doubtfully think a wood edifice would be “exceedingly fine.” It is also unlikely that Nephi would have built a temple worthy of God out of wood, since the Jews had sent for Phoenicians to show them how to build Solomon’s temple out of long-lasting stone and Nephi would have not only known this, but understood the reason for it.
Top: typical housing construction in Jerusalem at the time of Lehi. Homes were made of stone, as were most everything in Jerusalem; Bottom: Solomon’s temple was made out of dressed stone and meticulously detailed
    There seems little doubt that Nephi’s temple was not only out of stone, but quite intricately built for him to compare it with that of Solomon’s temple. In addition, Solomon had a royal palace built 400 years before Lehi’s time that was the envy of the period as well as in Lehi's time—it too, was made of stone and represented the opulence that surprised and pleased a myriad of visitors to Jerusalem from all over the region. It was built just south of the temple complex on a rise overlooking much of the city and would have been highly visible for all to see, including Nephi when he went into the city. The royal structure was quite large, being both the palace complex for the administration of Solomon's office and his own private residence.
Solomon’s palace was located near the Water Gate of Nehemiah’s time (3:29) and the royal gatehouse is now under the modern road. These photos are of the excavation that unearthed parts of the palace that became open to the public in 2011
    It seems reasonably certain that not only did Nephi build his temple out of stone, but taught his people how to build buildings out of stone and that much of his city was built of stone, including roads that led from place to place. It is what he would have known, what he would have understood, and what he would have considered the way to build, and what he would have taught his people. It also seems just as reasonable to think that remains of those buildings and roads would be seen today in whatever location one might search for the Land of Promise or claim it existed.

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