Sunday, January 24, 2016

Looking for Zarahemla – Part III

Continuing with another comment from a new reader, evidently promoting his own book “Finding Zarahemla,” to which we are responding and continuing from his last comment: “When the great emigration of the Nephites to the land northward occurred, described in Alma 63:4-5, it was a very large group that traveled overland through the narrow neck to move on to a better place. 
    Response (cont): When we start talking about immigration by ship as opposed to overland, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. 1) Purpose, 2) Motivation, 3) Practicality, 4) Convenience, 5) Cost, and 6) Opportunity.
    Obviously, the purpose of these immigrants mentioned in Alma 63 and Helaman 3, had to do with dissatisfaction with the lengthy war that just ended between the Nephites and Lamanites, with their motivation looking for a more peaceful and isolated land northward. As for practicality, it was a simple matter of reaching Franklin’s Elk Neck area (narrow neck of land), less than 100 miles from his Zarahemla to the passage into his Land Northward.
Looking north from Franklin’s narrow neck area to the east and north of the Chesapeake Bay up Elk River; Bottom: Beyond the narrow neck at White Hall and Glasgow, looking north. Note the completely flat ground—it would have been an easy trek into his Land Northward from the Delmarva Peninsula with no narrow passage in sight
    A rather simple task, and at the same time quite convenient. The cost of overland travel would have been minimal and the opportunity after the war ended quite convenient. Going by ship, on the other hand, which in this circumstance makes no sense at all, would have been quite costly and much more difficult in securing passage, and conveying by ship all the necessary supplies, equipment and building tools needed. Typically, in ancient times, immigration by ship was taken when large bodies of water precluded overland travel—in this case, there would have been no water hindrances, nor mountains nor any terrain nor topography blockages, making ship travel completely unnecessary.
    Also note in the photos above showing the narrow neck area, there are no narrow passes between these two lands that Franklin claims is the narrow neck of land. It is about 12 miles wide with nary a hindrance, pass—narrow or otherwise—into the land beyond.
Top: The area of Franklin’s Narrow Neck of Land, a small area between the Delmarva Peninsula (south) and Pennsylvania (north), beyond Newark and Wilmington in the Twelve-Mile Circle of Delaware; Bottom: Eastern lock of the Chesapeake and Delaware (C&D) Canal in Battery Park, Delaware City, Delaware. Note how flat the Narrow Neck area is—no hills, mountains, canyons, passes, etc.
    To get a better picture of Delaware, it is on a level plain, with the lowest mean elevation of any state in the nation, with Delmarva, the entire peninsula falling within the Atlantic Coastal Plain, a flat, sandy and sometimes swampy area with very few or no hills and a maximum elevation of about 102 feet (447 in the continental or mainland of Delaware), and within the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain, which stretches for 239 miles along the coast and includes Eastern Maryland from the Anacostia River (separating Maryland from Washington D.C.) eastward, Delaware, and New Jersey (an area 12,168 square miles). Within Delmarva, or the peninsula, the highest point is only 102 feet above sea level at Stillpond Neck, about ten miles south of the Susquehanna River mouth on the east shore of the Chesapeake. It is only 5,721 square miles and runs north and south 170 miles, though the lower one-third is a narrow land neck about 50 miles long and 18 miles wide which, today, belongs to Virginia, and known as the Virginia "Eastern Shore." 
    The actual narrow neck of land, between the Elk River (at White Hall just south of Elkton) and the Delaware River at the mouth of Red Lion Creek (between Newcastle and Delaware City) is only 12 miles wide over flat, uninterrupted ground—hardly the day and a half journey for a Nephite described by Mormon. Nor is it a choke point, since the area just south of there would allow for a crossing of the Elk River, a distance of only 480 yards (less than five football fields) across between Henderson Point and Plum Point, and further south about 520 yards between Elk Forest and Bull Minnow Run—ether one of which an army of attacking Lamanites or Nephite defectors could cross in canoes, rafts or small boats, to gain a six mile wide finger of land that opens six miles northward into a vast open land hundreds of miles across that would be impossible to defend.
Looking north up the Elk River at Town Point, (yellow arrow) about 600 yards across. The river narrows to under 500 yards about 3 miles (white arrow) beyond this point. Note the flat land all around
    This Elk River north of Back Creek is not deep, being part of a tidal tributary of the  Chesapeake Bay and the most northern extension of the estuary, which is only 1.4 miles long between Elkton and the Chesapeake Bay. Beyond that, the streams run out of the Piedmont (foothills) of the Blue Ridge Mountains (about 2,000 to 4,000 feet elevation at this point) and the Shenandoah. The waterway itself is shallow, shoaling very quickly beyond Elkton anciently, but in the late 1800s, was dredged to a depth of 7 feet, and in 1915, dug out even deeper to about 14 ½ miles north of the mouth. To the south, the river to Back Creek is crooked and narrow in places, making it difficult for any type of vessel Hagoth built to have traversed.
    Your Blog Comment: “The location is completely different from any other theories you may have read about but, as you will see, it is very compelling.
    Response: It can hardly be compelling when it lacks so much in comparison to the descriptions Mormon gave us. Truly, there is no narrow neck of land, just a narrowing of the land that is flat with no narrow passage or pass, no military choke point that could easily be defended with bows and arrows and swords, and at 12 miles, could easily be crossed in less than a day. There is no specific Land Northward, no mountains of any kind in the Land Southward, let alone ones "whose height is great"; there are no two animals that would not have been known to a New England farmer in 1829; no two grains; no natural herbs to remove fevers; no west, east or north sea beyond the narrow neck; no Land of Many Waters in the vicinity of the Land Northward; of the five or so main rivers in the Land Southward (Peninsula), none flow northward as the Sidon River does.
In addition, according to the Chesapeake Watershed Archaeological Research Foundation, of the officially searched 1500 archaeological sites on the Peninsula, the 60,000 acres of agricultural fields and over 600 miles of Chesapeake Bay shoreline and Atlantic coast line personally searched by the Foundation no evidence of substantial human populations occupying this Middle Atlantic coastal plain has been found. Even after numerous excavations and scores of years of the Smithsonian and other professionals, not a single indication of an ancient highly advanced culture exists; nothing beyond stone arrow points, knives and tools have been located, with most archaeological finds centering on shapes and designs of stone arrowheads, knives and tools, with a few ceramics, lithics (rocks), and bone tools.
This is hardly evidence of an advanced culture, which the Nephites coming from Jerusalem in 600 B.C. would have been.
(See the next post, “Looking for Zarahemla-Part IV,” for more information on Franklin Reid’s book Finding Zarahemla, and his comments to us and our responses, and also an introduction into the Delmarva Peninsula to show how it simply does not fit the scriptural record)

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