Sunday, May 3, 2015

Who Were the Jaredites—Part III, The Ancient People of Puñay

The pyramid of Puñay in the foreground, showing the steps or terraces on one side of the pyramid 
   Another spectacular site that meets the Jaredite time frame in the Land Northward is that of a pyramid nestled on the peak of a mountain top in the Andes about 80 miles east of the city of Guayaquil, in Ecuador, which is about 60 miles east of Santa Elena Peninsula and 80 miles from the Pacific coast, lies the ruins of an ancient pyramid dated about 2400 B.C., having been built 4657 years ago. Located about 1060 feet above sea level, it is the highest pyramid in the world and was only discovered in 2002. The area is famous for its verdant valleys, thick clouds, and stunning sunsets, and the view from the pyramids would have provided its ancient occupants a breath-taking view.
    The mountain top location near the Jaredite landing place of Santa Elena Peninsula brings to mind Mormon's statement "It being the place of their first landing. And they came from there up into the south wilderness" (Alma 22:30-31).
Called Puñay, the pyramid is 1475 feet long, 130 feet tall and built somewhat in the shape of the ancient sacred Guacamaya (left), otherwise known as the Macaw, a bird sacred to almost all ancient Andean cultures. The pyramid is believed to have been constructed by the Cañari people, who carried stones and mud for the construction from mines in nearby valleys surrounding the mountain (certainly a process well known to the builders of the Tower in Mesopotamia from which the Jaredites had come, and would have been familiar with finding and transporting building stones). At the top of the structure are twin truncated pyramids which are similar to many other pyramids in the Andes of South America, as well as those in Mesoamerica.  
    One of the reasons that Puñay has remained undiscovered for so long is because of erosion and the build up of biomass on the surface of the site. This has slightly affected the temple’s structure making it appear to be an extension of the mountain when viewed from afar.
One of the structures on top of the shorter pyramid (taken from on top of the taller pyramid)
    Today there are numerous holes visible in the structure, having been dug by grave robbers and looters some 50 to 70 years ago. This is, at least in part, due to an old Kichwa myth about a lost pyramid containing golden artifacts located somewhere in the Ecuadorian highlands lured both archeologists and grave robbers to the area in search of Puñay. In 2002 Christian Aguirre, a teacher in the School of Ecotourism ay the University Politecnica de Chimborazo, helped “rediscover” the pyramid. He also conducted the first archeological study of the temples dimensions and created a topographical map of the site, which showed the temple has the formation of a giant Macaw.
The mountain top at Puñay (today called meditation point), as seen by tourists. The view is spectacular and the area draws visitors from all over the Region, though it is a two-day climb from nearby Killa Wasi (House of the Moon) B&B Hostel in Alausi
    Referred to as the Lost Pyramid of Puñay, it sits in an area where few would have normally traveled, too far to the east for the normal passage around the Bay of Guayaquil from the south to the north, and not near much else in the mountains after they rose to their height during the Crucifixion. It is considered an enigma among all major archaeological sites in the Americas, sitting as it does on the peak of this “mystical” mountain. It is considered by archaeologist as being unique among all other pyramids in the world, and is believed to have been an ancient observatory where Amautas and Yacchas (Andean wiseman and priests) would unite to heal and praise the gods.
Top: View of the valley below Puñay; Bottom: View across the Valley showing the morning fog rolling in. The early inhabitants would have had an ideal location for beauty, relaxation and peace
    What is interesting about this site is that it matches Jaredite information:
1. Located in the Land Northward (north of the narrow neck area of the Bay of Guayaquil)
2. Located in the south near the Jaredite landing site (Ether 7:6)
3. Located in the mountains (“came up unto the land of Moron Ether” 7:5; “up unto the land of Moron Ether 14:11)
4. Located near the Land of Desolation (Ether 7:6)
5. Located among hills (Ether 7:9)
6. Unique pyramid. Puñay (Moron?) was a unique style of building, unlike any other in the land (north or south), matching the idea that the Jaredites would have known different type of buildings than the Nephites
7. The country to the east is all mountainous and hilly (Various hills are mentioned to the east of Moron)
    This area of Puñay is very beautiful with spectacular views of mountains and valleys, and certainly would have drawn a group of people; especially a group like the Jaredites, for it was far enough from the ocean that, after spending 344 days cooped up in tossing barges, etc., would have been very appealing as a location for settling down with wide open views, plenty of fresh mountain air, and lots of room to roam.
Unless we read something into the scriptural record that is not there, like other people in the Land of Promise other than the Jaredites, Mulekites and Nephites, as Mesoamericanists are wont to do, and unless we ignore the scriptural reference of the land being held from occupation after the Flood (Ether 13:2), as Mesoamericanists are also wont to do, Jaredites were the only people living in the Land of Promise between the Flood (2344 B.C.) and the arrival of Lehi (600 B.C.). Any people there, no matter the name science calls them, had to be the Jaredites. Now if the scriptural record is accurate on that point, and Hugh Nibley, John L. Sorenson and many others think it is not, then any group of people occupying the Land Northward during that period of time would have to be Jaredites.
    On the other hand, Hugh Nibley said that “worldly discoveries are going to bury the Church in criticism if members of the Church don’t take it upon themselves to become a people of learning.” While he intended that statement for the Book of Abraham, it should be considered for all the scriptural record. And it should apply as much to the Book of Ether as any other. The point being that we need to learn all we can about the circumstances surrounding the Land of
Promise, especially during Jaredite times, since it is typically the least studied work in the record.
    However, it is difficult to study the scriptural record when on the other hand we are being told that there were other people in the Land of Promise other than those mentioned in the record. Personally, I accept the Book of Mormon the way it is written and for the material found within it—I do not look for other peoples to be there when there is absolutely no reference or suggestion that any were there. Nibley and Sorenson’s views come from the fact that they are supporters of Mesoamerica and, as such, know that in Mesoamerica there were other people besides those they consider to have been the Nephites and Jaredites—thus they are forced to make room for others and do so through the altering of the scriptural record and the criticizing of Latter-day Saints who take a simplistic approach to the Book of Mormon, i.e., that it contains information about people in the land of Promise during the Jaredite-Nephite era.
    When the record states very clearly that the Land of Promise (Western Hemisphere, the American continent, both North and South America) was kept free from other groups and nations since the Flood and held in reserve for those who the Lord would bring, I see no reason to disregard that nor think it is not correct.
    Therefore, any people occupying the Land Northward (basically Ecuador) during the Jaredite time would seem most likely to be Jaredites, no matter what name or culture archaeologists want to apply to them. This blog is dedicated to that principle and the information stated in it. To this end the last few articles about Jaredites (and the Nephites before that) are the same people as those illustrated in the Book of Mormon.

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