Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Why Was the Narrow Neck Strategic? – Part VI

Continuing from the previous post and our responses to the article George Potter wrote that was sent to us by one of our readers. In the last post we covered Potter’s claim that the Lurin Valley was his transportation corridor, or narrow neck/narrow passage into the Land Northward. He also identified the Lima area a the Land of Desolation.
    It should be kept in mind that the Lurin Valley runs about 30 miles from the coast to the foothills of the Andes and almost anywhere along that distance troops could have moved northward, not necessarily along the river bed of flat ground, but certainly over the low-lying hills to the north of the valley.
    However, undaunted by the reality of the terrain, Potter goes on to say:
    Potter: “Here are the reasons why the Lurin Valley qualifies as a candidate for the Book of Mormon’s narrow neck or passage of land:
1. The border between the Incas’ northwest and southwest quarters was located roughly at the Lurin Valley.”
    Response: Again, the Inca came along a thousand years after the Nephites. Though they used Nephite roads, highways and mountain passes as well as the rope bridges the Nephites built, the point is that where the Inca placed their north, south, east or west quarters has nothing to do with the location of the narrow neck of land and the narrow pass or passage.
2. Potter: “As noted, Sullivan informs us that the area the Incas called the land of the people of desolation had a “…single high pass.” In both Inca and Spanish colonial times, the main road from the southern {land Bountiful} and south-central Andes {City of Nephi and Zarahemla} to the central Pacific coast {Desolation and the land Northward} lay through the pass, where the Incas carved steps into “living rock.”
    Response: First of all, these roads were built long before Inca times. It was over these roads that the Inca could move their armies to attack their enemies with great swiftness, but they were already in place. Secondly, the roads the Nephites built: “And there were many highways cast up, and many roads made, which led from city to city, and from land to land, and from place to place” (3 Nephi 6:3), have not all been identified today, some disappearing, others torn up by the Spanish and later the Peruvians to make their railways, etc., and Third, and most importantly, these early Nephite roads were not restricted to mountain passes or other simple locations.
They cut their way through solid rock mountains for their roads
They cut into sheer mountain sides and built roads hanging over the valleys below
They even built precarious steps out over the edge of cliffs for upward egress; and built their roads nearly straight up and straight down unscalable mountains
    While these are called Inca Roads today by unknowing historians and scholars, even the Inca, who were always reluctant to admit they had not built everything when the Spanish arrived, claimed they were in place long before their time. Had these roads not already been in place, the Inca could never have conquered so far and wide in such a short period of time (less than 100 years). In addition, the building of these roads, like the building of Sacsayhuaman, Ollantaytambo, and all the other magnificent sites, was far beyond the Inca ability. Even when they tried to make repairs on these sites, their work is by far inferior to that of the original builders (as we have shown on these pages many times before).
    Potter: “The pass is found in the Andes at the eastern end of the narrow Lurin Valley that runs from the mountains down to the shoreline.”
Response: In the above sense, the Lurin valley is no different than several valleys in this same area that run from the Andes in the east down to the shoreline. The map (left) shows three specific valleys so running, with a fourth a little smaller. In fact, because of the Continental Divide which runs north and south in South America within the Andes Mountains, numerous river valleys move from the Andes westward into the Pacific, with 49 such river valleys in Ecuador alone, and another 62 in Peru, and there are no end to Mountain Passes within the Andean cordilleras.
    Potter: “The Lurin valley was extremely important for military reasons. Not only did the passage to Cuzco run through it, but it was also the junction with the Incas’ shoreline highway from the south. The Inca coastal road was along a sixty-mile narrow passage that led from what appears to be the land Bountiful north along the sea. This shoreline passage does not widen until it reaches the Lurin Valley. Losing control of the Lurin valley would have meant that the Lamanites could attack the land northward from both the southeast (the land southward) and the south (land of Bountiful)."
    Response: While the concept of the importance of this area is correct, the other information is not. First of all, the Lurin Valley in far too south in Peru to mark the northern point of the Nephite nation or the Land Southward. If the Lima area was the Land of Desolation as Potter suggests, then the Land Northward would encompass about 60% of Peru and all of Ecuador, leaving only a small part of southern Peru and northern Chile to be the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Bountiful, which would not make much sense, since the vast majority of Nephite ruins are found from about that line northward, leaving very little production for the Nephites in the first 900 years of their existence, and the majority of their construction of cities in the last century of their nation when they fr too busy running for their lives since they were almost constantly under attack from Lamanite armies during that time.
    Secondly, the Lurin Valley provided a buffer zone between the Land of Nephi and the city of Zarahemla (Pachacamac), the religious center of all of southern Peru as every archaeologist and anthropologist has recognized. And as for the wall at the northern end of the Luin Valley, which is similar to the Great Wall of Peru built further north and mentioned in Helaman: “And there they did fortify against the Lamanites, from the west sea, even unto the east; it being a day's journey for a Nephite, on the line which they had fortified and stationed their armies to defend their north country” (Helaman 4:7).
North of Huambacho, along the seacoast, stands a large settlement, and just north of there is the bay of Samanco, which provides one of the few really protected harbors on the Peruvian coast. There, just beyond Chimbote, is a magnificent wall, called The Great Wall of Peru, which snakes up from the Pacific sea coast—the first five or six miles inland the Wall is now mostly missing, with the rocks carried off by locals for other buildings, though the foundation is still visible—and continuing into the interior. This is so impressive, that von Hagen wrote about it extensively in his book, "The Royal Road of the Inca" (Gordon & Cremonesi, London, 1976)
    This wall ran from the sea to the east for a day’s distance. The wall was meant to stop the Lamanite advances into the north countries and the Land of Bountiful. It obviously worked, for after building it, “Moronihah did succeed with his armies in obtaining many parts of the land; yea, they regained many cities which had fallen into the hands of the Lamanites” (Helaman 4:9).
    Evidently, in Moroni’s time, when he also was “building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands” (Alma 48:8). This would have included the stone wall the height of a man along the northern rim of the Lurin Valley that Potter mentioned. In this way, it would have been near to the southern border of the Land of Zarahemla and certainly would have served its purpose in defending the capitol against Lamanite aggression from the south.


  1. Looking at that map, it seems to me that investigating the land to the east of the eastern end of the Great Wall might raise some very intriguing questions about how the land has changed since it was built.
    This wall obviously took a great deal of effort to construct. Unless similar constructions dating to the same time or earlier block the mountain passes to the east, it was effort largely wasted.
    If there is a lack of such fortifications, a question is raised of why armies would not simply go around the wall.
    Perhaps when the wall was being built, there was no way to move armies around the wall, and it was only a significant change to the landscape that opened up such pathways?

  2. Thanks for this series. I was reading Potter's book and when I got to the part where he was explaining his version of the narrow neck I stopped reading it and never finished it. But I do appreciate his work in Arabia.

  3. I read "Nephi in the Promised Land" and read it through since it made more sense to me than "Mormon and Moroni" (Mesoamerica focused), which, in its turn, made much more sense to me than promised land = entirety of the Americas, which was my running assumption until I came across that book.
    I'm not sure if I would have read "Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica" if those two books had not jump-started my curiosity on the topic.
    "Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica" is a very intimidating-appearing book, though (perhaps paradoxically) it was actually quite easy to read and re-read.

  4. Thank you for your comments.

    To erichard, I agree that Potter's work in Arabia is excellent, it is a shame he did not put out the same accurate effort in Peru.

    To Michael, you might find the second book "Who Really Settled Mesoamerica," of interest since it brings Central America into focus as to the time and circumstances in which that area was settled by Nephites (around 50 B.C.), with the first half of the book about the Jaredites and how they got to the Land of Promise and where they landed.

  5. You are quite right. I found "Who Really Settled Mesoamerica" quite interesting; especially the ideas on the Jaredite barges. I will eventually be picking up and reading the other 2 books in this series.