Sunday, February 22, 2015

Letter of Arthur Budvarson – Part II

Continuing with Arthur Budvarson’s six questions asked of the Smithsonian Institution about the Book of Mormon and their answers and our evaluation. 
    His first question: “Have there ever been any cities named in the Book of Mormon been yet discovered?”
When these cities were first excavated and uncovered, there were no signs as to what they had once been called by the builders and early inhabitants. Archaeologists named them according to their location, surrounding areas, or local names of the site given them after the Spanish arrived
    We suppose that critics expect, if the Book of Mormon is correct, to find excavations of cities bearing the name of Zarahemla, Nephi, Antiparah, or Bountiful, etc. The question that needs to be asked instead is, if archaeologist excavated a city that originally had been called Zarahemla during Nephite times, how would they know of such a name? Perhaps one might expect to find find a plaque inscribed in Hebrew or reformed Egyptian saying, “This is the city of Zarahemla, founded 555 B.C.” or a road sign on the approaches to a city listing the equivalent of “5 miles to Zarahemla.”
    Critics, even experts, are perfectly correct in saying that “no archaeological site has been identified with any of the names of the cities mentioned in the Book of Mormon” as did Dr. Frank H. H. Roberts, Jr., Acting Director of the Smithsonian in his reply to Arthur Budvarson on October 10,1958 (in answer to the latter’s question: “Have any of the cities named in the Book of Mormon been discovered?”)
So let us look at this question from a different angle. We know that there are scores of ancient cities in southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, etc., as well as scores of ancient cities discovered in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, etc. We can see the cities, archaeologists have studied them for decades, and many books are written about them. Now the question to be asked is, “Do we know the ancient names given those cities by the people who built and lived in them?”
    The answer is a definitive “no.”
    No one knows the names of hundreds of Nephite-period (600 B.C. to 400 A.D.) cities so far discovered in Central and South America that were given them by their builders. The names we know them by in Mesoamerica: Chichen Itza, Tik’al, Caracol, Uxmal, etc., or in South America: Chan Chan, Caral, Chavín de huántar, Machu Picchu, Pachacamac, etc. None of these names by which we now know them were the names known by the original builders and inhabitants of those cities in antiquity.
    What we know of all these cities and the hundreds of other ancient sites now discovered, are names given them long after the Book of Mormon period. The names we have are those assigned to these sites by their discoverers, or claimed to have been called long after the Nephite period by historians or natives dating to after the Spanish Conquest. We know what the Aztecs (1427 A.D. ) called their cities, as an example, and what the Incas (1400 A.D.) called theirs, but these civilizations existed a thousand years after the demise of the Nephite nation.
    For another example, take the pre-Inca site of Tiwanacu (Tiahuanaco) along the Peru-Bolivia border, just south of Lake Titicaca. The name we know this city by today was given it by Pedro Cieza de Leon, who came upon its remains in 1549 while searching for the Inca capital of Qullasuyu. It is believed this site may have been inhabited as early as 1500 B.C., but surely by the 6th century B.C.
    When Cieza de Leon asked numerous Inca about the ruins, they told him it had always been there and no one knew who the builders have been. When it was actually built, no one really knows. During the time period between 300 BC and AD 300, Tiwanaku is thought to have been a moral and cosmological center to a population of 25,000 to 30,000 inhabitants before it expanded its powerful empire, which is believed to have eventually supported a population of between 285,000 and 1,482,000
The city of Tiahuanaco, with temples, subterranean courts, and exterior walls, covered an overall empire that stretched from Bolivia to Peru and Chile. It was one of the most important civilizations prior to the Inca Empire in all of South America
    According to Arthur “Arturo” Posnansky, a well-respected avocational archaeologist and author of Tihuanacu, the Cradle of American Man, it may have even existed in the antediluvian period. The name Kalasasaya, associated with this site, is also a modern name given it, as was the name Lukumata and Akapana, along with another site nearby today called Puma Punku—all of these names we use today would have been unknown to the original builders. 
    Its site and workmanship is extensive, with the largest stone block weighing 131 metric tons, another 85 tons, and within the Akapana (temple) an andesite block estimated to weigh 66 metric tons. Without question, Tihuanaco is an example of a major site and empire dating to Nephite times, yet its original name and the original builders and occupants are unknown to modern history. So the site is named  Tiahuanaco (Tiwanaku,Tiahuanacu), a name whose origin is unknown, possibly passed down through the Inca and the Spanish. It may have come from the Puquina, an extinct language once spoken by a native ethnic group in the region surrounding Lake Titicaca and sometimes associated with Tiwanaku, and believed by some to be the “runa simi” cryptic language of the Inca nobility. The point is, no one knows what this city, region or people were originally called.
    An example in Mesoamerica are the ruins of Copán, which some claim was occupied during the Nephite period, and existed over a two thousand year stage. Located in western Honduras, near the Guatemala border, it lies in a fertile valley among foothills at about 2300 feet elevation. The civilization here is said to have had a major influence on regional centers across western and central Honduras, had a population of some 18,000 to 25,000 at its height, and covered an area of over 100 square miles. It was considered one of the more powerful Mayan city states; however, it was long abandoned before the Spanish arrived.
The Mesoamerican site of Copán in Honduras near Guatemala, was discovered in 1570 by Diego Garcia de Palacio, and is one of the most important sites of the Mayan civilization 
    The ruins first appeared in the book Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan by John Lloyd Stephens, written in 1841 regarding an 1838 expedition (this is the book that found its way into the hands of Joseph Smith in 1843). Called Copán since its discovery in 1576, no one knows the original name by which the settlement was known in antiquity, though some have suggested it is associated with words like “Corner,” Summit” or “Motmot.” Others claim it might have earlier been known as Oxwitik, though that meaning remains obscure; however, the area was called Quirigua for a time, though that is really the name of a site about 30 miles away. The original name of Copán is simply unknown.
The point is, we are not going to uncover ancient signposts or city signs telling us the original names of these cities. Consequently, archaeologists and anthropologists have no idea what these many sites in Central and South America were first called by the builders and early occupants. Yet no one doubts these places exist. What were they called, who built them, and what is their connection to modern knowledge is still unknown after more than a century of investigation.
    But they do exist, they are there, and they do date to the period of the Nephite nation or shortly afterward in the case of Central America. The important thing to keep in mind is that basically all our information to date on the region of the Book of Mormon civilizations—Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile in the south and Mexico and Central America in the north, pertains to the archaeological developments of modern man during the periods long after that of the Book of Mormon. The civilizations that existed or co-existed in the same time period, such as the famous Norte Chico, Wari, Moche, Canaris, Caral Supe, Chavin, Tiwanaku, etc., in South America, and in Mesoamerica, the Maya, Teotihuacan, and Zapotec cultures along with the empires of the Toltecs and Aztecs, are simply not known to the modern era. In fact the specialists in the field of American archaeological areas will be the first to admit that not enough is yet known about the "Preclassic" period of these regions—i.e. the period of the Book of Mormon—to enable anyone, least of all a true scientist or scholar, to reach a valid conclusion as to the claims of the Book of Mormon.)
    It is not, therefore, the oft-quoted opinions of "scientists" that will decide the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, but the actual evidence on hand and yet to come forth, both internal (validation of the record within the Book of Mormon itself), and external (archaeological and anthropological data, relating to the actual area and period of the Book of Mormon people). The fact that science has found cities and cultures in South and Central America that match the time frame and writing of the Book of Mormon should suggest to anyone of the connection. However, science is extremely reluctant, if not loathe to use anything connected to a religious record as a basis for "scientific" discovery.
    Therefore, any criticism of this nature—not finding any named city of the Book of Mormon period, is a moot subject. No names of any sites of prehistory in the Americas is known today by the name they were known by their builders and first occupants.
(See the next post, “Letter of Arthur Budvarson – Pt III,” for the continuation of this article and the rest of Budvarson’s six questions that the Smithsonian answered and their evaluation)

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