Monday, December 29, 2014

Jaredite Direction of Travel – Part V – The Matches of Salalah and Khor Rori to Moriancumer

In the earlier posts of this series, we discussed the directions of travel the Jaredites could have taken out of the Valley of Nimrod (north of Babylon) on their journey to the Great Sea. In the last post, we discussed their arrival at the Great Sea—the Sea of Arabia. In this post we will cover their reaching the Sea.
Yellow Arrow: Entrance through the mountains (Frankincense Trail); White Arrow: Salalah (village and also the region of the cup-shaped area between mountains and sea); Green Arrow: Wadi Dirbat, where the water drops from the mountains); Blue Arrow: Khor Rori, where stream it empties into the Sea 
    Coming through these mountains toward the coast, the Jaredites dropped down off the flat plateau of the vast Arabian desert into the area now called Salalah, which today is the capital of Dhofar and known throughout Arabia as 'The Garden City,” a relaxed, cool and humid area where banana, coconut, sugarcane and papaya plantations are plentiful—a veritable Garden of Eden during the khareef, when the monsoon winds and rains turn the plain into a lush green paradise.
As shown in the last post, Salalah was and is a veritable paradise during and just after the monsoon season from May to as late as early November, and stays green throughout the year. 
    This land between the sea and jebels (mountains) the Jaredites called Moriancumer and Lehi later called Bountiful, a cup-shaped and fertile plain about eighteen miles wide and about ten miles deep at its greatest depth from mountains to shore. There are several ains (springs) here, and nine khors or Khawrs (creeks or inlets) that flow from these mountains that lie in an arc of black and gray ophiolitic (ocean crust) through the land and empty into the sea, from Khor Al Gurum, to the west of Salalah, to Khor Rori, about fifteen miles to the east of Salalah, the latter being the largest and most attractive of the khors, with Mirbat two miles to its west.
In the hills above Khor Rori in this cup-shaped plain lies the Wadi Dirbat (Darbat), home to a spectacular waterfall during the khareef season and the even more dramatic uplands of the Jebel Samhan, whose sheer limestone walls tower above the coastal plain. Further back are the Tawi Attair and Taiq, cavernous sinkholes and home to one of the largest variety of birds found anywhere. On the Cliffside, a few hundred feet above the valley floor, is the scenic hanging valley, home of a spectacular waterfall in full flood and a lush, green paradise with small tributaries tumbling down from the mountain in burbling cascades. There is a lot of fresh water, with caves, trees, animals running wild, and a large flowing river in the wadi.
In this area later would be discovered the frankincense trees from which olibanum, the sap or gum of the tree that dries into crystals (left), which can be made into an aromatic resin used in incense and perfumes, could be extracted. From here the famed Frankincense or Incense Trail would begin some 1800 years later and carry Frankincense to the known world.
The fertile lands of Khor Rori filled with wild animals, including camels, sheep, goats, and cattle left behind by the Jaredites after they left in their barges across the Great Deep 
    So taken with this area were the Jaredites, that they decided to settle there. Moroni wrote: “the Lord did bring Jared and his brethren forth even to that great sea which divideth the lands. And as they came to the sea they pitched their tents; and they called the name of the place Moriancumer; and they dwelt in tents, and dwelt in tents upon the seashore for the space of four years” (Ether 2:13). In fact, they named this land after the Brother of Jared, who was the spiritual leader of the group through whom the Lord directed his guidance.
The Khor Rori Plain between the Great Sea and the Qara Mountains where the Wadi Dirbat, Dirbat Valley and Dirbat Dam lie
As stated earlier, this area of Salalah is a cup shaped, fertile land surrounded by mountains on one side and the Sea of Arabia on the other. Within the cup-shaped fertile areas is the Wadi Dirbat and the inlet known as Khor Rori, the most active of the various khors (creeks) which line the coastline around Salalah. This inlet is fed by the Wadi Dirbat, where it drops from the hills above Khor Rori, filling the creek with fish, which in turn attract a fine selection of aquatic birds. It is a peaceful and quiet area—so quiet you can hear the splash of fish in the water. 
Dirbat Valley lies in the foothills above Khor Rori. Top: Wadi Darbat; Middle: Falls over the natural Dirbat Dam above Khor Rori; Bottom: The greenery of the lush hills filled with timber 
Dirbat Valley is filled with trees, fresh water, and a lush landscape  during khareef
    The hills above Khor Rori are filled with timber of various trees, including a unique tree nestled in the wadi Hinna, known as the Baobab Tree (see the book Who Really Settled Mesoamerica for an explanation of this tree’s importance to the Jaredites and why Khor Rori had to have been where the Jaredites arrived along this coast). This wood forest is about halfway up the hills overlooking the sea, with trees of enormous trunks of Elephant-skin texture bark quite different from all other trees in the area—known in Arabic as the Tabladi, they are nicknamed the "upside-down tree" and look like they have been planted on its head, with its roots sticking up into the air to produce a somewhat eerie silhouette.
The Baobab Forest above Khor Rori in the Wadi Hinna. Note the closeness to the Sea in the lower right picture 
    These Baobab trees grow to enormous heights of over 90 feet, even some over 100 feet, with a girth of from 25 to 36 feet, though they have been known to grow to 150 feet circumference and a diameter to 52 feet. These unique trees can live several thousand years and have very unusual properties. Its fruits are filled with pulp that dries, hardens, and falls to pieces, which look like chunks of powdery, dry bread. They are stuffed with antioxidants such as iron and potassium, and contains six times the Vitamin C levels of an orange as well as vitamin A, twice the amount of calcium of milk and fifty per cent more calcium than spinach and is a plentiful source of anti-oxidants, those disease-fighting molecules credited with helping reduce the risk of everything from cancer to heart disease. The dry pulp is either eaten fresh or dissolved in milk or water to make a refreshing drink. The Baobab's fruit is sometimes called a 'superfruit' (Claire Soares, The Tree of Life [and its super fruit], 2008). Baobab fruit is also said to help fight fevers and settle the stomach, and has been suggested to have the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development, and support sustainable land care. 
The unique Baobab trees which the Jaredites used to build their barges (see the book "Who Really Settled Mesoamerica"), provided a large, unique long-lasting fruit that could be dried and stored that is packed with vitamin "C" and has numerous medicinal values
    Young fresh leaves are cooked in a sauce, and are sometimes dried and powdered. The powder is called Lalo in Mali and sold in many village markets. The leaves can be eaten as relish, and oil extracted by pounding the seeds can be used for cooking. The integral antioxidant capacity of baobab fruit pulp was more than ten times higher than that of orange pulp, and It very high in Vitamin C, up to 5000 parts per million, and not only a good course of Vitamin C, but also significant amounts of calcium and thiamin and other vitamines and minerals. In addition,baobab is loaded with natural dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble, making it a healthy whole fruit supplement and texture to other foods.
    All of this would all have been important to the Jaredites for their journey by sea that took 344 days in order to avoid the typical disease of later mariners, scurvy that resulted from a deficiency of vitamin C, which is required for the synthesis of collagen.
(See the next post, “Jaredite Direction of Travel – Part VI – The Animals Left Behind,” for more information about this seashore the Jaredites called Moriancumer)


  1. In your book, "Who Really Settled Mesoamerica", you touch upon the name of Ophir as the Brother of Jared, which does seem to make sense.
    You also tie this to the port through which Solomon received some of his wealth, which causes me some confusion.

    I'm unsure how the name would remain associated to the area beyond the time of the Jaredites boarding their barges.

    Who was there to know what the Jaredites called this location?
    On a related subject, how would people in this area claiming decent from Ophir be tied to the Jaredites, as the Jaredites and their posterity had left on the barges?

  2. You pose a good question. While we may never know the exact answer, some thoughts can be suggested, as was done in the book "Who Really Settled Mesoamerica." First, unlike Lehi, the Jaredites were not fleeing from their homeland in secret, the dispersal of people from Mesopotamia (Babylon) was evidently widely known, since Jared asked his brother to ask God that both their language be not confounded and to inquire where they might go (he must have known others were leaving in droves). It seems obvious that the Jaredites had no reason not to mention where they were going when they encountered anyone in the Mesopotamia or desert areas through which they passed. This dispersal is widely known in the scriptural record and in history, obviously, when the Lord dictated this history to Moses, the prophet was told many things, not all of which got into the record, and not all of what got into the record survived the centuries of scribal rewrites.
    Secondly, the pathway the Jaredites took south from the area of present-day Qatar was the same trail (oasis to oasis) the Dilmun traders took and would have been well traveled since trading was the very purpose of this movement, of Gerrha’s existence and that of the Salalah or Khor Rori locations originally. No one knows for certain how early the Frankincense trade began, but before that there had been trade of goods among just about all people, especially in this area of Gerrha to the coast. Location names do survive for a time—the Bedouin nature of naming places for their own purposes is well documented (ala Valley of Lemuel and River of Laman), but this was not done if a place already was known by a name. While the area now known as Salalah was not settled until after 500 B.C., it does not mean that people did not pass through or visit or do business in that area from time to time.
    Thirdly, there is no question that this area in history became well known, well traveled, and well used by peoples from all over the region, even as far away as Africa and Rome, who traveled there by ship and used this remarkable port along an otherwise barren and inhospitable coast. While it is not likely, but possible, the Jaredites might have left some information of this area they named—we do not know enough about their tendencies in such matters to say one way or the other—but a passing trader, ship, etc., might have wandered by that area while the Jaredites were there during their 4 to 5 year stay and learned of its name.
    Fourth, according to current knowledge of residents (described in the book), the area was known as Ophir—the question is, how did it get that name? Did someone just come up with it, or was there a connection to the Jaredites somehow left or indicated? Was Moses told this information by the Lord?
    Unfortunately, while the historical record bears out the name, and the circumstances of the Jaredites also bears out the name, how the two are connected is not known—we can only speculate, but the fact is, the two names seem to bear witness to each other--it is certainly a possibility.