Friday, May 1, 2015

Who Were the Jaredites—The Ancient People of Puñay

Not a lot is known about the Jaredites from the scriptural record. 500 pages are written surrounding the Nephites, covering a period of about 1000 years, while only 21 pages make up the Book of Ether, covering a period of about 1600 years. What we do know is that the Jaredites landed in the land promised around 2100 B.C., according to the dates of the patriarchs, less than 250 years after the waters receded from the Flood. 
Between that time and their final battle, where Coriantumr killed Shiz to end the Jaredite kingdom (left), this civilization of remarkable skills and abilities moved across the Land Northward, from the narrow neck of land in the south (Ether 10:20), to the great sea in the north (Ether 15:8), and from the Sea West where they landed to the Sea East (Ether 9:3; 14:26).
     Founded by Jared and his brother, the latter being a man “highly favored of the Lord” (Ether 1:34), who had such strong faith that he actually moved the mountain Zerin (Ether 12:30), the Lord could keep nothing from him (Ether 3:26), and who possessed more faith than any man (Ether 3:9); who was given a vision of the entire earth history, from beginning to end of time (Ether 3:25); and a man of such stature in the eyes of the Lord “he could no longer be kept without the veil” (Ether 12:21). He helped forge a Jaredite kingdom that lasted longer than any other in history, though at the end internal conflict, pride, and avarice destroyed them.
     However, during that millennium they ruled over the land with some righteousness, they accomplished magnificent things. The Nephite expedition who was sent to find Zarahemla by king Limhi stumbled across the Jaredite ruins centuries after their demise and remarked at their remains of buildings of every kind, and a people who were once as “numerous as the hosts of Israel” (Ether 8:8), with a written language that was recorded on gold plates (Ether 8:9). They were a large (Ether 8:8) and mighty people (Ether 13:15; 15:26), building mighty cities (Ether 9:23; 15:2), whose population numbered in the millions (Ether 15:2).
     What is important to understand when we look at accomplishments of past societies, that those directed by God and inspired to their accomplishments, such as when he told the Jaredites that he would lead them to a promised land: “And there will I bless thee and thy seed, and raise up unto me of thy seed, and of the seed of thy brother, and they who shall go with thee, a great nation. And there shall be none greater than the nation which I will raise up unto me of thy seed, upon all the face of the earth. And thus I will do unto thee because this long time ye have cried unto me” (Ether 1:43), or later when he told Lehi, who wrote of it: “Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever” (2 Nephi 1:9).
Stonework that marvels even builders of today, set without mortar that not even a razor black can fit between the rocks
     In such cases, we can expect that the people the Lord led to a new land would be blessed beyond measure, and given abilities, knowledge and understanding to accomplish great things provided they worshipped him.
     All we need to do is look around at the marvelous things that were accomplished by these early civilizations, the Jaredites and Nephites, and to the remarkable abilities they possessed beyond that of their age. These accomplishments are such, that even modern man, with all his technology marvels at the accomplishments of these early peoples.
     Of course, the archaeologists and anthropologists who discover their achievements have no way of understanding how they were able to do such things—some even attributing it to extra-terrestrial beings. However, we should understand that when people are good and godly, the holy ghost inspires them to accomplish remarkable things. There was so much righteousness with the brother of Jared, with Nephi, at that time, the manifestations of the Holy Ghost and the inspiration of that power that is given to righteous men enable them to accomplish things far beyond their own mortal powers.
    We have covered time and again the remarkable accomplishments the Nephites made with the buildings of such things as Sacsayhuaman, where stones were cut into fitted shapes and walls, structures, temples, etc., built beyond what most believe would have been the capability of the time. We can also see such work among the Jaredites, even at a much earlier age.
    The Lord simply inspired them to brilliance, with ideas and inventions that were brilliant, many of which have not been duplicated since until the 20th century. While the physical accomplishments of the early peoples we identify as the Nephites have been identified and discussed for nearly a century now, that of the Jaredites is only just now becoming better understood as archaeology moves into the Ecuadorian mountains and  jungles, uncovering some of the last Andean ruins to be discovered.
     Take, as an example, the discovery in November, 2013, of a totally unknown ancient megalithic pyramid complex located in the central jungles of Ecuador in an area called La Maná, in the Province of Cotopaxi.
The pristine area before man; Bottom: The huge plain surrounded by huge rainforests and covered with modern buildings and the city of La Maná in Ecuador
     The Jaredites “did cast up mighty heaps of earth to get ore, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of copper” (Ether 10:23). It is interesting that this area is called La Maná, a name taken from the “manna,” the food God sent the Israelites every day in the wilderness, because of the gold wealth of the area and the enormous influx of people who came to remove the large presence of gold in the country.
     For centuries the people of Ecuador have shared wild sounding stories of legendary ancient cities supposedly lost to the jungles. Many of these stories are based around the reasonable hypothesis that a number of settlements have been swallowed up by the expansion of jungle areas, and the stories are kept alive by the tantalizing prospect of large amounts of gold hidden in these few urbanized areas that did not fall to Spanish hands. The recent discovered pyramid in Ecuador dubbed the “Hummingbird Pyramid,” where local legends claim there was once a civilization here that was known for the giant size of its people—until recently, only thought to be a myth, however, this site consists of bones that are from humans of extreme height, well over six feet tall in some cases.
     Now, it appears these legends are at least somewhat based in fact. The total size of the complex located is uncertain. A layer of soil has built up and covered structures at the site and then tropical foliage has taken root, making buildings indistinguishable from the background of jungle plants. By good fortune, a landslide induced either by heavy rain or by an earthquake brought down all of the material covering one side of a large pyramidal structure, believed to be some 265 feet square with walls rising to about 260 feet (26 stories)—several such pyramid sites in the area are believed to follow astronomical alignment.
Two workers trying to climb the 45º-angled side of the slanting pyramid; Bottom: Scientists working on the discovery project estimates that the large megalithic stone blocks are each around two tons in weight with many hundreds making up the pyramid, and were cut into irregular shapes and sizes, cleverly interlocking and possibly cemented into place
(See the next post, "Who Were teh Jaredites? PtII," for more information on the Jaredites landing and the ancient people of La Maná

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