Friday, July 10, 2015

Ancient Bible and Book of Mormon Cities – Part IV

Continuing from the previous post, in discussing the types of construction that was known in Jerusalem and Israel in the centuries between David and Lehi, to show what type of construction that Nephi, Sam and Zoram would have known and lived around, and no doubt would have implemented in their design and building of the City of Nephi and the land of the Nephites in those early years.
    For centuries Jerusalem was sparsely inhabited. It began to grow in the time of King David who made the city his capital. By the time Solomon was anointed king in 956 B.C., Jerusalem had become a city of crowded, narrow streets, with spacious quarters for the royal palaces and related court retinue.
David’s Jerusalem: The east was protected by the Kidron Valley, the west protected by the Central Valley, the south protected by the joining of the Hinnom Valley with the Central and Kidron Valleys
    It seems reasonable to assume that the Israelite cities, especially Jerusalem, of the Later Monarchy, mid-10th century to the time Lehi left Jerusalem in 600 B.C., would have directly influenced Nephi, Sam and Zoram in their design and building of their new land in the area that was called the land of Nephi. This would have been what we know fro the scriptural record as the City of Nephi, later called the City of Lehi-Nephi, as well as at least the lands of Shemlon and Shilom (Mosiah 10:7-8), which flanked the City of Nephi. Such building would have taken place between about 585 B.C. to about 225 B.C., when Mosiah was told to flee the city (Omni1:12-13). It is also very likely that other, nearby areas were populated and built up during that 350 year period.
    In the area of Andean Peru, that would have stretched from Cuzco and Sacsayhuaman, to the north along what is now called the Urubamba Valley (what the Inca called the Sacred Valley), which includes cities of Ollantaytambo, Pisac, Chinchero, Machu Picchu, all the way south to Lake Titicaca, including Tiwanaku and Puma Punku.
In Israel, the havoc and destruction of the Aramean Wars of the 9th and 8th centuries B.C. were followed by the prosperous period of the reign of Jeroboam II in the Northern Kingdom and Uzziah and Azzariah in Judah. Cities built during this time reflect a distinct pattern belonging to what is referred to as Iron Age II. Streets reappear. Sometimes they follow a deliberate plan, as at Tirzah (Tel Far'ah), sometimes they follow the natural line of the hill, as at Debir (Tel beit-Mirsim). 
    In Megiddo, Debir and elsewhere, sewers have also been discovered. A palace for the governor or a central administrative building was frequently erected near the main gate, as at Megiddo or at Mizpah. These new features probably had little impact on the mass of the population. Even in the most "modern" of the cities of the period, alleys still separated groups of buildings, as they had done in the past.
    The proper planning of streets and quarters on a regular basis did not come until the Hellenistic period (about 300 years after Lehi left Jerusalem), at which time independent government and policy for each city reached its peak. At this time, they obtained their water from rain water stored in cisterns under the houses and from public springs or wells within the city limits, from which water was taken each day in pitchers and jars.
    The disposal of sewage, from combined bath and toilet rooms, mainly in the better class houses, is indicated, by clay and stone sewers and pipes found in the foundations of Canaanite and Israelite cities. The sanitary facilities, bath-tubs and squatting oriental style toilets must have looked much like the remains of the bathroom in the palace of Lachish (8th century B.C.)
A drain passed through the bottom of the wall, with a water-closet fitted against it on the other side. A large tub would be used for cold water, the small one for hot. After a bath, the water could be run off through clay pipes into a drain or cesspool. The toilet was flushed from a sewer of water and emptied directly into the sewer. Sewers and pipes would be cleaned at intervals.
    The ancient Hebrews were among the earliest peoples to incorporate cleanliness and hygiene into their religious observance and everyday life. Some attribute Moses' upbringing in an Egyptian royal household for his emphasis on the purifying aspects of water. Washing, bathing and cleanliness played a prominent role in the religious rites of the Jews, and indirectly afforded the people a greater measure of health than enjoyed by most ancient societies.
    The earliest recorded sanitary laws concerning disposal of human waste also are attributed to Moses and his teachings in the Old Testament around 1500 B.C., when his people are instructed to dispose of their waste away from the camp, and to use a spade to turn the remains under the earth or sand. Of course, in crowded cities, more ingenuity is required.
    Jerusalem's water supply and drainage developed in stages from the ancient days, even prior to the reign of King David in 1055 B.C. Drains were built for removing sewage from homes and streets, while excess waste and refuse were carted out through the appropriately-named "Dung Gate" of the city.
Beneath the Old City of Jerusalem are several tunnels and sewers that date to the time Lehi left Jerusalem. It was through a tsinnor, a water conduit, such as one of these that Joab captured the foritified stronghold of Jerusalem (City of David) for the king (2 Samuel 5:8)
    Because the temples required their own "pure water" arrangements, there were two separate drain and waste water systems in the city. This was certainly an extra expense, but the early plumbers developed a conservation system for its reuse. Sink water was channeled into ponds or large cesspools or directed into a settling basin. Here the waste materials would be held in suspension and subsequently used as manure for the fields and croplands. Any surplus water was eventually used in the cultivation of gardens.
    More elaborate sewer systems were found in smaller towns of the region. They consisted of a trunk line and auxiliary drains underneath the houses. In the courtyard of Solomon's Temple stood what the Old Testament calls a "molten sea," said to have held 2,000 baths (cubic measures). It was used by the celebrants to wash their hands and feet before entering the sanctuary. According to one source, the "sea" or laver was a replica of the apsu, the laver that Babylonian priests used in their temple rites, except the Babylonian laver was chiseled out of stone.
The Molten or Brazen Sea was a large basin in the Temple in Jerusalem made by Solomon for ablution of the priests, standing in the south-eastern corner of the inner court
    This "molten sea" was a 7-foot high basin of bronze or brass, 15 feet in diameter and 3 inches thick. It rested on the backs of 12 cast-iron oxen, which stood in four groups of three. The basin contained water sufficient for 150 ritual baths (mikvah), with the seas representing the world, the ten ells of diameter corresponding to the ten Seifirot, and the round at the top as the heavens.
    Biblical scholars calculate the weight of the "sea" alone at 33 tons, an astounding figure which can never really be proven. The laver was situated close to the temple's "Water Gate" with a convenient water conduit on the outside of the complex.
    When we read the Book of Mormon, we need to keep in mind that the Nephites came from that background found in Jerusalem as shown in this series—they were not a new society emerging from an earlier, pre-state of lesser accomplishments as archaeologists always want to believe, but the continuation of a society with more than 500 years behind them, and at least 300 to 400 years of advances rivaled in accomplishment by only a few societies of the day. What the Nephites brought to the Land of Promise was a very modern civilization for the time, with vast accomplishments behind them and a knowledge of construction that involved cut and dressed stone and magnificent edifices. Obviously, the Land of Promise should reflect that level of accomplishment.
    And there is only one place in all of the Western Hemisphere that does!

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