Friday, May 8, 2015

More Comments from Readers – Part III

Here are more comments that we have received from readers of this website blog: 
   Comment #1 “The Nephi record states that after Lehi turned east (1 Nephi 17:1), which you claim would taken them across the Empty Quarter desert, meaning nothing existed there, Nephi writes that “we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children, and were strong, yea, even like unto the men; and they began to bear their journeyings without murmurings” (vs 2). Where did they get this meat? The Empty Quarter is devoid of life, it is so hot there that nothing could survive such a habitat” Mani A.
A herd of Arabian oryx moving along the dunes in the Rub’ al Khali—they have been residents of this desert for millennia, grazing on native plant that have also adapted to the harsh climate. Near extinction in the 1970s, they are making a comeback through captive breeding programs
    Response: Perhaps a little further study on your part would show that the Empty Quarter, while a difficult habitat for most things (temperature from 129.2º F. to -26.6º F.; less than 100 mm of rain annually; 403,891 square miles), has its share of wild life that are adapted for life in an arid, nearly water-free environment, including Cape hares, sand cats, striped hyenas, red foxes, caracals, gazelle, wolves, camels and oryxes. There are also lizards, geckos, poisonous snakes, scorpions, spiders, ants, bees, wasps, moths and beetles (not to mention several birds, including buzzards, vultures, falcons, swallows, martins, sparrows and doves. The first European to cross the Quarter was the British civil servant and explorer Bertram Thomas in 1930-31, opening this area to the West for the first time (he wrote a book of his expedition titled Arabia Felix). However, Bedouins have long frequented The Sands (ar Ramlah), Arab pirates or robbers have always been found within it, and though for thousands of years this territory has resisted settlement as one of the Earth's hottest, driest, and most unyielding environments, it has also been home to a culture on the edge, a proud Bedouin society.
    Like others of his time, I am sure Nephi and his brothers took an occasion from time to time to hunt some of the animals to secure meat as the scriptural record tells us they had.
    Comment #2: “What about the problem with the fact that Khor Rori, in Lehi's day, was a populated pagan town and in later times a busy shipping port, with little natural vegetation and no timber at all near the coast. The lack of timber has led some writers to suggest that it may have been imported from India as was done in northern Oman. Even today significant vegetation grows only in small irrigated areas at the coast or many miles inland. Khor Rori is surrounded by the broad and arid Salalah plains reaching inland to the Qara hills. There is no "mount" closer than twenty miles where Nephi could pray "oft." In contrast, Kharfot, hidden by the steep Qamar mountains, is the most fertile coastal location on the Arabian peninsula. Its fertility stretches several miles on each side of the bay. A variety of wild fruits and wild honey abounds and large timber trees grow -- almost to the waters edge. A prominent mountain stands on the west side of the bay and at its base is an elevated plateau that would be ideal for a small community to live. It is a pristine place, almost certainly uninhabited in Lehi's day” Willis G.
    Response: This statement is right out of Warren Ashton’s article in Meridian Magazine “Finding Nephi’s Bountiful in the Real World.”
    He also listed the following table of contrast:
On balance, Khor Kharfot seems a much more convincing fit than Khor Rori. Ashton also goes on to say, “Over the years I have taken scores of seasoned Latter-day Saints to both sites and not a single person has ever felt otherwise. Typically, those who feel otherwise have not actually been to both sites to compare.”
    The problem lies in the accuracy of the statement along with the accuracy of the chart and contention. There is no doubt that Khor Kharfot has many fine qualities in connection with Nephi’s description of Bountiful. However, the fact is that Ashton’s comparison is not accurate. Trees, greenery, honey (from ancient deposits of beehives in caves), nearby mountains, the cliffs overlooking the entrance to Khor Rhori where Nephi’s brothers wanted to throw him into the depths of the sea—all exist at Khor Rhori despite his comments to the contrary. We have posted over the years numerous articles in this blog showing photos of Salalah, of the Khor Rhori area, the wadi Dirbat, the Baobab trees in wadi Hannah, the Frankincense park at wadi Dawqah, etc., etc., etc.
    When the Lord told Nephi to build a ship to take them to the Land of Promise, Nephi asked “And I said: Lord, whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me?” (1 Nephi 17:9). When he asked this he had already been in Bountiful “for the space of many days” (1 Nephi 17:7). Evidently, he had time enough to look around where he was and had not found any evidence of the “ore” he needed, so he asked where he could go and find it. This should suggest that the ore, flint, and other materials needed were not immediately in the area of Bountiful he had already seen. Ashton’s argument is that Khor Kharfot had everything needed, but evidently the scriptural Bountiful did not. From this it might be suggested that everything needed was within walking and working distance of where they were located at Bountiful.
Immediately above Khor Rori, within a very short walking distance, the land rises into the mountains of the Wadi Dirbat; Top: View down the Wadi toward the Khor Rori and the sea; Bottom Left: The Wadi Dirbat where there are numerous mounts; BottomRight: The 90'-high cliffs overlooking the entrance to Khor Rori from which Nephi could have been thrown into the sea by his brothers
    Around Khor Rori is everything needed to fulfill the scriptural record descriptions and actions, including the perfect launching site for a ship, a protected harbor (the Khor Rori inlet) and inland river source dropping from the mountain behind the inlet. Perhaps Ashton did not look around sufficiently to find all that the scriptural record indicates and exists at Khor Rori. It is certain, though, from his descriptions and pictures that he did not visit the area or evidently take his groups to Khor Rori during the Khareef, or monsoon season (for a fair description, see A Port in Arabia Between Rome and the Indian Ocean, 3rd C BC-5th C.AD, Khor Rori Report 2, by Allessandra Avanzini, L'Erma di Bretschneider, 2008, 742 pages
    Comment #3: “Loved your article on Chavin, especially your final comment about ‘Though found many miles apart and considered to be totally different cultures (different people) than one another, note the similarities between the stone heads set in stone walls at both Chavín de Huantar in north central Peru, and Tiahuanaco in southeastern Peru. Also, note the same similarity of style in decorating stone walls with carvings. Such similarities lead archaeologists and anthropologists to normally suggest the same culture or two cultures heavily influenced by one another; however, in Andean Peru, cultures are considered separate from one another and are not linked to a common people. Yet, this and other evidence suggests that these people were all inter-connected.’ You have to love archeaologists and anthropologist who sometimes cannot see the forest for the trees” Margene U.
The carved heads on stonewalls at Tiahuanaco—an obvious part of the Tiwanaku people that had great similarity to the stone heads on the walls of Chavin del Huantar
    Response: Exactly, and it’s not that these heads are hidden at Tiahuanaco—they cover four huge walls of a sunken courtyard. But there is more. How about these similar carvings and drawings throughout the Andean area and time, including one from Mexico, all depicting the same “staff God” worshipped throughout Central and South America cultures.
The Staff God of the Americas, found in numerous cultures scattered over distance and time throughout Andean Peru and also in Mesoamerica: Top Left: Wari Staff God;  Top Center: Tiahuanaco God; Top Right: Chavin God; Middle Left: Huari God; Middle Center: Caral God; Right: Middle Right: Aztec (Izapa Mexico) Tamoanchan God; Bottom Left: Norte Chico God; Bottom Center: drawing of Norte Chico God; Bottom Right: Andean Viracocha Creator God
    Though the professionals can claim these were separate cultures with little or no connection, the evidence shows they were more or less one extensive culture settled in different locations that not only had contact with one another, but that they had similar methods, styles, and tools to create their monumental architecture and designs. Yet, they were separate in their locations, probably because of mountains and valleys separating one settlement from another, which had minimal or intermittent interaction since transportation was probably relegated to foot traffic. Yet, though they had separate artists, each with his own ideas on design, function, and methods, they produced similar work in some cases and distinctly different in other cases. To the archaeologist and anthropologist, this meant they were different cultures, living at different times, but other facts show this was not the case.

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