Monday, February 15, 2016

Wow! A Mesoamericanist Agrees with Llama and Alpaca – Part II

Continuing from the previous post regarding Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper’s article about what animals could the Jaredite Cureloms and Cumoms have been. In the previous post, we listed all the different animals Miller and Roper presented and why none of them would have been applicable to Ether’s description of the two “unknown” animals they brought with them in their barges to the Land of Promise. 
    Miller and Roper then write: “So, what other Mesoamerican animals are left from which to choose for a curelom or cumom? One good candidate in our opinion is a member of the camel family. The present New World members of this family are the llamas.”
The problem is with this idea, though it is undoubtedly correct in the llama being one of these animals, is that it did not exist in Mesoamerica until long after the Jaredite kingdom was gone and well into the Nephite period.
    While Miller and Roper spend some time trying to show the llama existed in North America (remains have been found within the La Brea Tar Pits of Southern California, along with extinct animals of various types), and tried to show how some might have lived beyond the so-called extinction date. In fact, Miller and Roper use numerous dates in an attempt to place the llama within the Jaredite time frame:
    This animal certainly must have survived the late Pleistocene extinction event. Several archaeological sites, including some in Mesoamerica, have yielded co-occurrences of llamas and man. Dates recorded in North America showing late survival of extinct species include 3800 years ago (Arroyo-Cabrales and Alverez); 8240; 8527 years ago (Mead and Meltzer); 7432 years ago (Frison, Walker, et all); and 7400 to 8200 years ago (Hester).”
    There is one article claiming a possible date of 3000 years ago (Mead and Meltzer “North American late Quaternary extinctions and the radiocarbon record”), but that single date is far off of the others, and except for that date, all the others fall before the Flood, therefore, before the Jaredite period.
The point is, the llama came to the Western Hemisphere with the Jaredites, as all animals indigenous to the area in pre-Columbian times, since the Flood would have wiped out any and all animals endemic to North America prior to that time.
    So here we have two Mesoamericanists claiming that the llama was one of those animals mentioned in Ether as being especially useful to man like the elephant. However, from this point on, the two miss the entire point of the llama and alpaca, lumping them into the same animal, when they are two entirely different species of camelid. They do, however, acknowledge that Joseph Smith would not have known about these animals.
    It is extremely doubtful whether Joseph Smith would have known about these animals in the early 1800’s. In fact the knowledge of them was not known to the general public in North America until the late 1800’s. Now, would a llama, either an existing or recently extinct species, have been an “especially useful” animal to the Jaredites (Ether 9:19)? It seems quite likely that they would have been. Although llamas are no longer native to North America, extinct species were. And like other large mammals thought to be extinct by the close of the Pleistocene Epoch, some probably lived on much longer.”
    The problem lies in now, on  ce acknowledging that the llama could have been one of the Jaredite animals, Miller and Roper, being Mesoamericnaists, have to keep the animals alive in North America (and Mesoamerica) to maintain their model as the Land of Promise. The problem with that is, the llama and alpaca are considered by all scientists as having existed in South America long before it was anywhere else, including a belief that it migrated northward before the extinction period. But the main issue is that it was brought by the Jaredites, and as such, we should look to where it existed the longest (after the Flood) and that area is Andean South America—a fact to which all archaeologists, anthropologists, and zoologists agree except for Mesoamerican theorists.
The llama was first domesticated in the Andes of Peru several thousand years ago
    Miller and Roper go on to state: “Not only is there good evidence for the co-existence of American llamas and man, but also that these animals could be domesticated. It was stated by anthropologist Ricardo Latcham that New World camelids (the llamas) were domesticated in pre-Columbian times. Archaeologist Jane Wheeler claimed that the domestication of the llama goes back several thousand years.  This would take in the time of the Jaredites in America.”
    So here we have two Mesoamerican theorists acknowledging that the llama was domesticated several thousand years ago.
    Miller and Roper: “As far as being an especially useful animal, consider the uses for which the llama has been put by man. As stated by Walker et al., “It is easy to realize the importance of the llama to the Indian, as he utilizes it almost 100%, from its smallest hairs to its most insignificant droppings. Jerked llama meat nourishes the Indian; its woven fleece keeps him warm; its hide is made into the crude sandals with which he is shod; its tallow is used in making candles; braided, the long hairs serve him as rope; and the excrement, dried, constitutes a fuel…”
    The scriptural record states: “And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephonats and cureloms and cumoms” (Ether 9:19). The above certainly shows how useful the llama was to the early indigenous people who domesticated it.
    In addition, Miller land Roper state: “Additionally the llama makes a very good beast of burden, and its pelt is used for blankets and outerwear. It has also been shown that they are good at guarding flocks. All these items make the llama an extremely useful animal for man. It seems to us that this animal could well be either the curelom or cumom mentioned in the Book of Ether.”
    Interestingly enough, at this point Miller and Roper seem to forget the origin of the llama and the alpaca, for they stem from different stock, for they write: “If the llama in fact represents a curelom or cumom, what could the other one be? Again, it has to be one which lived in the right place at the right time; that is, when and where the Jaredites were living. And it also must be an animal especially useful to man. Although now extinct, two viable candidates are ones related to the elephant.”
The alpaca with its highly prized fibers for clothes and almost all types of weaving, from rugs to hats to shawls to jackets
    It seems almost comical that ignoring the other companion animal to the llama, that fits the bill quite well, they go to looking at some extinct animals when the pair, llama and alpaca fit the concept of the curelom and cumom so well, i.e., after all, llama and mastodon, don’t fit naturally, anymore than “llama and gomphothere” has no natural ring. Besides, llama and alpaca are both camelids though they serve two entirely different purposes.
    The llama, as described above, is a beast of burden, but the alpaca produces an exceptional fiber, which is the same class as cashmere, but also shares many of the properties found in sheep’s wood. It is the strongest natural fiber known to man, yet has exceptional softness, and has an insulating value from three to five times higher than sheep’s wool, making it the most valuable textile fibers in the world today. The Alpacas graze on grasses and whatever else they can find, do not pull up the grass roots like sheep, so pastures renew if the animals rotate. The alpaca's digestive system is very efficient so most any grass, including low protein grasses, will do, and an acre of good pasture can support about 15 to 20 alpaca. They are very hardy animals with few medical needs, easy to handle, even for children.
(See the next post, “Wow! A Mesoamericanist Agrees with Llama and Alpaca – Part III,” as Miller and Roper now look for the other animal beneficial to man and answer the question regarding what animals the cureloms and cumoms were as described in Ether)

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