Monday, November 3, 2014

Mormon’s Abridgement Part XIV – We Did Find Upon the Land of Promise – Part II

Continuing from the last post, which covered four specific descriptive areas that should exist adjacent to Lehi’s landing site (adjacent, not just somewhere else in the Land of Promise).      
    Following is the importance of these four items and the significance of their being near where Lehi landed and pitched his tents. In fact, they are so important, we will cover each of the four points one at a time over four posts.
    First, however, let us consider why a landing at Coquimbo Bay is considered.
    Coquimbo is found in an unusual location. The currents and winds that blow northward from the southern isles of South America, as the northern track of the Southern Ocean is bent north along the continental shelf (the lower track passes through the Drake Passage), slows from their swift movement of some 25-30 mph, until they reach the 30º South Latitude, where they are nearly becalmed (0-5 mph) and, aided by the upwelling currents, turn toward the coast. The perfect scenario for a deep sea vessel to land along a coast where there are no docks, buoys, or tie ups.
A ship in 600 B.C. moving along the coast must have a place to land that fits three absolutely critical criteria: 1) Winds die down to allow a shoreward movement, 2) Currents stop flowing to allow a shoreward movement, and 3) The shore must have a landing site
    In addition, the rocky cliffed topography along the coast of South America provides few choices for landing spots. In fact, most of South America (and much of North America) is covered in coastal bluffs, sea cliffs that are often precipitous and mountains along the length of the coastline, which provide few possible landing sites.
    Even today, the west coast of South America is not especially an easy place to make port calls, and cargo ships are scarcely ever unladed at docks anywhere on the west coast from Mexico to Chile. Nor are the harbors on the west coast as on the east—for example, at Mollendo, unlading of cargo is done at sea (not at docks) which is far costlier, but also far safer because of the poor coastal bays, inlets, or ports. Shipyards are seldom found in South America, with those in Venezuela on the north coast (Caribbean Sea), or those on the east coast along the Rio del la Plata in Uruguay and Argentina. There are no shipyards on the west coast south of the Bay of Guayaquil. All of this makes both Coquimbo and Valparaiso in Chile the best natural docking and harbor south of Guayaquil in Ecuador.
In a quiet bay, such as Coquimbo (which means peaceful waters), Nephi could have beached his ship at low tide, or taken it into the lagoons where low tide would have made it easy to disembark for everyone—low tide falls to one foot or less just after noon in the bay
    Finally, from the south moving northward, the first possible landing site is Valpariso, then Coquimbo, then Arica in northern Chile, Calleo (Lima) in Peru, and Guayaquil in Ecuador—five places along a 4,300 mile coast, with only three before the Peruvian Bulge that forces currents back out to sea. Of all these, only Coquimbo Bay in the south and Guayaquil in the north provide protected settings of such a landing as Lehi would have needed in 600 B.C.
    Here, then, is the first of the four points:
    1. Where they landed in a bay of some sort a short distance from the sea, where they could pitch their tents and settle down.
    Because of Lehi’s age and both his and Sariah’s health at this stage (see previous post), it is unlikely, and probably would have been impossible for the colony to have gone very far inland after landing. In addition, the biggest, and immediate need for the colony would have been three fold: 1) Secure quarters (location and shelter) for living and sleeping beginning with the first night--this would have been pitching their tents as Nephi said; and 2) Secure food and water for their immediate needs through fishing and hunting, and 3) Provide for planting for a long-term food supply--Nephi also said they did this. These latter two efforts would have been important since when they left Bountiful, they “had prepared all things, much fruits and meat from the wilderness, and honey in abundance, and provisions according to that which the Lord had commanded us, we did go down into the ship” (1 Nephi 18:6), and it would not be very likely that much of these provisions would have remained by the time they reached the promised land. Nor could they have, as modern man is used to thinking, simply go down to the corner market and purchase food.
    Consequently, it appears obvious that the party would have landed and immediately found a place to settle, pitched their tents for immediate shelter against weather and the night, and quickly sent some to hunt while others began tilling the ground and planting for an early harvest. Thus, we need to find a bay for landing, and a nearby location for settling.
The Bay of Coquimbo at the 30º south latitude in Chile, the first well defined landing site along the southern coast of South America, where the Humboldt Current flows northward, taking a ship from the Southern Ocean up along the coast and into the bay which is very well protected from the prevailing southerly winds
Top: Satellite view of Coquimbo Bay and La Serena. This bay is at the exact location where the winds and currents die down and a ship “driven forth before the wind,” would be able to steer out of the winds and currents and in toward land. Note how the bay is protected from the prevailing southerly winds (yellow arrow) and provide a perfect place for both landing and living
Both photos show Coquimbo Bay from the La Serena (northeast) side (looking south). Note in the top the huge size of the bay, with the Pacific Ocean on the right (yellow arrow pointing beyond the photo) and the bay running far to the left; Bottom: note the huge cruise liner at the Coquimbo docks (red arrow), and the wetlands (white arrow) that before man were a series of coastal lagoons that would have been perfect for the anchoring and landing and/or beaching of their ship to disembark
    In about the middle of the Bay is the delta mouth of the Elqui River, a fresh water source originating in the high mountains inland--this would have been one of the first needs the colony needed was a fresh water supply. The river runs quick and straight from the Andes, laying out a broad, rich alluvial plain as it slows near the sea at La Serena, passing through the Elqui Valley, one of Chile’s most productive agricultural valleys and the primary producer of its potatoes. Upstream, the Elqui’s floodplain pinches narrower and steeper, and the fields give way to where terraced hillsides today produce most of the nation’s grapes for their wine industry. The river’s headwaters are found in the high mountains that reach over 18,000 feet and form a backdrop above the town of Vicuna about 38 miles inland from La Serena.
The Elqui River not far from its headwaters and at the spot where the Tambo River flows into it. This fast-moving fresh water source flows for 47 miles through the Elqui Valley and La Serena to its delta mouth at Coquimbo Bay
    This river would have provided fresh water for the Lehi colony from its mouth in the delta at Coquimbo Bay clear to its source in the Andes—especially in the area of La Serena and the Elqui Valley, which is famous for its production of fruits, where their crops and fields would have been.
Red Arrow shows where the Elqui River delta empties into the Coquimbo Bay. This water source would have been within easy reach of any landing site in the Bay
The Elqui River near its delta mouth at Coquimbo Bay, which would have been within site of Lehi’s landing site along the eastern shore of the bay, and no doubt would have been the location of their inland movement to where they pitched their tents
    As a result, Coquimbo Bay provides the best landing site along then entire coast of Chile and Peru, certainly within the area of the Humboldt Current where the winds and currents would have taken a ship “driven forth before the wind” from the Arabian Peninsula, before it is driven westward by the Peruvian Bulge and out to sea and back into the South Pacific Gyre. At the same time, within this limited area of Coquimbo and La Serena, is found an ideal area for Lehi to have pitched his tents and the colony settle down, with not only ample fresh water from the Elqui River delta, but also the ideal place for planting, which we will cover in the next post.
(See the next post, “Mormon’s Abridgement Part  XV – We Did Find Upon the Land of Promise – Part III,” to find he second of these four areas Nephi describes to be adjacent to their landing site, and crucial for any Land of Promise location to have—not just in the entire land, but specifically adjacent to the landing site, which is where Nephi placed them)


  1. Del, you have gone to great lengths in the past to chronicle how the land of promise was changed during the upheaval of AD 34. However, in this past and others, you employ geographic details that very well might not have existed in Nephi's time. What's your rubric for deciding when and what to ignore?

  2. I'm not sure "rubric" is the correct word to use here. I have only one rule I follow on this in regard to the scriptural record and that is I accept what is written and how it is written; however, as for man's knowledge, it is far more fluid and adjusts as man's knowledge increases (so far I have not found that increase to be contrary to the scriptural record and what I've written earlier). Man's knowledge can be a guideline based on what existed at the time as far as geological chronology (not dates but sequence of events) took place based on the best information available at the time of my writing as compared with the scriptural record for place and time. Perhaps if you gave me a specific example of your meaning I could give you a better answer. It might also be kept in mind that I have been writing this blog since January of 2010 and have somewhere around 1500 posts or articles written. Over the course of those four years, geological knowledge (knowledge of man) has increased by leaps and bounds in some of the areas that affect the Land of Promise (such as plate tectonics, geologic uplifts, etc.) and what I use to support the scriptural record--thus, much of my later writing is far more complete than earlier writing. First and foremost is the scriptural record which, I believe anyone who follows my writings, including the books and these posts, would know I accept word for word as written without making any attempt to explain away anything or alter, change, or ignore anything written. Thus, rules are difficult to consider other than that one. On the other hand, I am learning as, hopefully, are we all. Where many Theorists doggedly adhere to explanations that are no longer accurate based on greater knowledge, this blog has tried to move in the direction of supplemental support in a dynamic environment of constant learning--I hope my writing reflects this effort. As an example, when Great Lakes and Heartland advocates first created their model, they used the Mississippi and St. Lawrence rivers as their source of Lehi's travel (ship) going inland in this manner; however, since then, we have learned more about these inland rivers that were all far too shallow and some links non-existent until the Corps of Engineers dredged them in the 18th-20th centuries--a fact that was always existent, just not known to most people but now is common knowledge.

    My personal opinion is that if Hugh Nibley had written some of his ideas today, with the greater knowledge now available on such historical matters, geography, etc., he might never have suggested some of the views he stated. I think this might be true of others as well. Yet, I have never read of anyone still writing to have made such adjustments--usually they are silent on such matters.

    In any event, I don't know if this answers your question, if not, provide me with something a little more specific. Thank you.

  3. In looking over your comment once again, I find I neglected to answer the last question about what did and might not have existed in Nephi’s time. Again, I’m not sure if you have a specific question in mind, but in general terms, I use two criteria: 1) The scriptures as already discussed above; and 2) the knowledge of the past as best known and understood by man at the time of the writing (basically also stated above).

    In explanation, I make the assumption that the Land of Promise, as discussed, described, and covered in the scriptural record before 34 A.D., to have been physically unchanged. So however we describe it, it remained that way from Nephi down to the crucifixion. I assume this because there is no indication in the scriptural record to suggest otherwise. On the other hand, 3 Nephi describes a tremendous change, as is verified by Nephi’s earlier vision and the prophecies of Samuel the Lamanite. From that time, certain physical areas are not mentioned at all again or even referred to, such as the East Sea and the narrow neck of land, which may not mean anything, but could mean they were no longer physically the same. At the same time, I look at the geologic picture and adjust it to fit a 13,000 year old world rather than a 4.55 billion year old world—which I do because I am convinced that Moses writings of the time frame of the world (which dates, etc., Joseph Smith used in his 2nd Lesson in the School of the Prophets) is correct rather than man’s knowledge about evolution and the demand that a world had to be billions of years old to accommodate such Satanic evolutionary philosophies.

    In addition, there are no geological factors (when using the geologic island[s] of south America, like no Panama connection, seas to the east of the Andean area, etc.) that would have affected the basic gravitational currents and winds that have remained in existence from the beginning in regard to the Land of Promise.

    Again, I hope this helps.

  4. Del, great stuff. And just to be clear, I'm fully on board with the SA model. I say that not for ingratiation purposes, rather so that you know where my point of view is coming from: I'm a big believer of using falsification and strict rigor. I believe that we should look for ways to falsify our own theories in order to make them stronger. I believe that where reasonable alternatives exist in order to explain something, that we ought to acknowledge it. I don't believe in passing off an assertion as fact that cannot be absolutely affirmed. That being said, in this business there are few absolutes (relatively speaking, of course). You have chosen a criteria and an approach for interpreting what the BOM says, and it's a good one because it's an effort to mitigate personal/emotional biases. I would say that one weakness of it, though, is that the Scriptures don't always mean what we think they mean. And, as we go along, sometimes we make those discoveries.

    OK, enough of the background, but I thought it was important to establish it so I could more clearly communicate my question/wondering.

    Recently, you went to great lengths to expound upon all the changes that were wrought upon the land of promise and connected them with current and past geography of SA. These include, among other things, possible River flow changes and mountain changes. However, in these posts you Talk of the high mountains, the river, coastline, forest, etc, as if that's how it all was in Nephi's time. Should not these expositions be couched in disclaimer language?

    That's just one example. I'm just talking internal consistency. We hold other theorists to it, I just was curious as to how you policed your own continuity.