Sunday, March 27, 2016

Did the Nephites Have the Wheel—What Happened to the Nephite Evidences? – Part III

Continuing from the previous two posts with the question about the Nephite Wheel and all evidence of their existence as well as the evidence of other Nephite relics.
     As can be seen from the previous two posts on this issue, the Nephites both had horses and horse-drawn chariots, and extensive roads on which to drive them. And as we have discussed, the roads built by the early Peruvians stretched from Quito in Ecuador to central Chile, with some in northwestern Argentina and western Bolivia.
There were two major north-south highways, with the eastern one, called the Camino Real by the Spanish conquistadors, that ran from Quito to Cuzco, traversing the mountain ranges of the puna and mountain valleys of the Andes, with peak altitudes of more than 16,000 feet and on to what is now Tucuman, Argentina, for a total length of 3,230 miles. The other main road, the western route that followed the coastal plain except in coastal deserts where it hugged the foothills, which the Spanish called El Camino de la Costa, or Coastal Road, ran for 2,420 miles parallel to the sea and was linked with the Camino Real by many smaller, feeder routes. More than 20 routes ran over the western mountains while others traversed the eastern cordillera in the Montana and lowlands. The entire system provided easy, reliable and quick routes for the ancient Peruvian civilian and military communications, personnel movement and logistical support. These are the roads that Alma traveled on his missionary work, as well as the sons of Mosiah; Moroni and Mormon’s armies in the defense of the Nation.
    In all, there were 100 suspension bridges made of icchu or puma grass, one still survives today and is rebuilt every two years as they were in antiquity. When the Inca came to power, they quickly conquered an area 772,204 square miles, over these roads the Inca called “Qhapaq Nan” and the later Spanish used to conquer the Inca.
    On steep terrain the early Peruvians built steps to dissipate the water's energy and counter erosion. At high altitudes they paved the way with local stone to protect the surface from ice and snowmelt, and when they needed supporting walls they left holes for the water to drain.
    There were approximately 2,000 inns, or tambos, placed at even intervals along the trails. The inns provided food, shelter and military supplies to the tens of thousands who traveled the roads in this organized and civilized Nephite Nation. There were corrals for llamas and stored provisions such as corn, lima beans, dried potatoes, and llama jerky. Along the roads, local villagers would plant fruit trees that were watered by irrigation ditches. Later, under the Inca, all of this enabled chasqui runners and other travelers to be refreshed while on their journeys.
    Now, according to the archaeologists, the Inca, an advanced people, did not know the wheel and there is no evidence of the wheel ever being in Peru or the Andes; however, not long ago a wheel was discovered in the Kachiqhata quarries across the river from Ollantaytambo, not far from Cuzco, by two young explorers.
The 63-inch diameter Stone Wheel at Kachaqhata. Archaelogosits have tried to claim this is a Mill Wheel, but Mill Wheels have grooves in them and this one does not—it is perfectly smooth like, well, like a wheel. Besides, a wheel is a wheel isn’t it? That is, if it is round and rolls, then it is a wheel, irrespective of what it is used for and doesit is still a wheel
    When the structures, ruins, roads, and terraces of Ollantaytambo was discovered (44 miles up the sacred valley to the northwest of Cuzco), archaeologists eventually traced the massive rocks used across the Urubamba River to an area called Kachiqhata in a ravine among three quarries, Mallup’urka, Kantirayoq, and Sirkusirkuyoq—the north, south and west quarries—all  of which provided blocks of rose rhyolite for the elaborate buildings of the Temple Hill.
    This temple at Ollantaytambo was obviously unfinished, but what is there is Andean stonework at its finest. Huge blocks of rose rhyolite were brought from the Kachiqhata quarries, located high on a mountain across the valley three miles away to the southwest on two giant rockfalls just below the cliffs of a granitic outcrop, called Negra Buena. Two great retaining walls to protect the quarries from rock falls and possibly to stop big blocks hurling down from high locations anciently. There are also traces of water canals leading to the quarries and to nearby ruins that are clearly visible—which may have been occupied by workers or leaders of the projects (according to Peruvian architect Emilio Harth-terré).
    The stone blocks were sledded a couple of thousand feet down the mountain, somehow transported through the river, dragged several hundred yards across a field or two, then brought up a colossal 380 yard-long ramp to the construction site. The quarries at Kachiqhata are reached today as they were a thousand years ago by a ramp, which leads down from the site of Ollantaytambo to the river and up the mountain on the left bank to the rockfalls. Along the whole length of the ramp there are some eighty abandoned blocks, called today the “weary stones,” as though they had become “weary” from the arduous movement down and up the mountains and could go no further.
    These quarries are the only places around where they could find this stone and if the Pre-Inca Peruvians of antiquity wanted a certain kind of stone for their construction, they would go to great lengths and heights to get it. Rose rhyolite is a pretty stone. It is a dense and fine-grained volcanic rock that is a light salmon to pale pinkish yellow in color.
    One might wonder if these round stones in the quarry had anything to do with transporting the huge blocks of rhyolite from the quarries down to the ravine below, or up to the building site on the other side. However, sticking to their belief the wheel had been unknown in the Andean area, archaeologists passed off the stone as merely millstones. Though why millstones were found in this quarry so far from any habitation where they might be used for grinding wheat or other grains is an important question. There are no buildings around, no evidence of the existence of any grist mills in the entire area, even at Ollantaytambo across the way.
Actual millstones, showing their natural thickness and also the numerous lines or grooves in them for grinding up the grain, not at all like the thin and smooth stone shown in a photo above
    However, since everyone knows (or so they say) that the ancient Peruvians did not know the wheel, it was also claimed that this stone had to have been a carry over from colonial times; however, as archaeologists have found, there is no evidence of the quarries here ever having been used after the Spanish arrived, and likely not for centuries before that time.
    It is always amazing how quick professionals are to defend their opinions or previously believed “facts.” It is interesting when archaeologists saw the round stone wheel at the quarry, they immediately considered it evidence that colonial presence had been in the quarries, though none has been found, and its appearance is far older than the colonial period—its wear from weather alone suggests antiquity. It is interesting that it never dawned on any of them that the wheel was a carry over from ancient times, another people before the Inca, and obviously meant that ancient Peruvians knew the wheel.
    It is also interesting that over the time archaeologists have been digging in the ground in Peru, and all the way north to Mesoamerica, where wheeled toys, pottery wheels, and other semblances of wheels have been found from time to time, but all have been discarded as meaningless since, of course, everyone knows the ancient Americans, and especially the Peruvians, despite extensive roads, did not know or have the wheel.  (Lu Fawson, A Study of Documents that Substantiate the Existence of a Potter's Wheel in Ancient America, Salt Lake City, unpublished paper, 1966).
The American archaeologist Matthew Stirling made a second unsettling discovery at Tres Zapotes, which was also the place where archaeologists unearthed the first example of a Pre-Columbian wheeled object. Since then several more have been found in locations dispelling the myth that the wheel was unknown in Central and South America before the conquest
    In 1940, Matthew Stirling (an archaeologist who has concentrated his studies on the wheel) discovered eight wheels in Tres Zapotes, Vera Cruz. The wheels seemed to be clay discs which were used to make the pottery toys mobile. Along side the wheels were found a pottery dog and a pottery jaguar, each with two tubes attached to their feet. The wheels were held together two-by-two by wooden axles that passed through adobe tubes, which were attached to the animals' front and rear legs. On a second expedition, Stirling found twelve more discs which he took to be three sets of wheels for toy figurines. He summarizes his findings: "It doesn't appear likely that having known the principle of the wheel for five centuries it never occurred to them to use it in a more general way” (Alfonso Caso, Sobretiro de Cuadernos Americanos, Mexico: Imprenta Mundial, 1946, p25.)
    According to Jean-Pierre Protzen (“Inca Quarrying and Stonecutting,” Humanities Research Fellowship from the University of California at Berkeley 1982, and Center for Latin American Studies), while first discovered in 1863, such things as hammer-stones of diorite, picks or wedges, etc., were not found until 1959, and others in 1983. There are still many mysteries about these quarries yet to be uncovered, however, the point is, these quarries have not been used in centuries, containly at least one round wheel about five feet across, and show that the ancient Americans at least had an understanding of the wheel.

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