Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Pachacamac: The City of Zarahemla – Part II

Continuing from the previous post regarding where the Mulekites settled and Mosiah found them along the cost near Lima, Peru. 
   In the last post, we ended where Mosiah’s possible route from the City of Nephi to the City of Zarahemla might have taken him as the Lord guided Mosiah and those who would go with him down through the mountains and to the lower level valley of Zarahemla.
The ruins of Pachacasmac, the City of Zarahemla. Note the large walls (yellow arrow) around the city (Helaman 1:21; 16:1) upon which Samuel the Lamanite stood to preach to the Nephites
    The City of Zarahemla, or Pachacamac, was located about 25 miles south of Lima and a little east since the curvature of the coast cuts inward toward the east from Callao, lying along the banks of the Lurin River within the narrow Lurin Valley. Today, the Pan American highway runs between the site and the coast.
(Top) One of the large structures in the vast Pachacamac complex, overlooking the sea. (Bottom) One of the many streets within the city complex
    Obviously, during the time of Mosiah and his leading the more righteous Nephites who would go with him out of the City and area of Nephi, there were no roads between the City of Nephi and the City of Zarahemla. At this time, the Nephites had not even known there were people living north of them until Mosiah traveled there when fleeing from the city of Nephi. Nor were there roads leading back to the Land of Nephi when Zeniff took his people back to reclaim the City of Nephi, nor any roads for Limhi or Alma to follow from that area in their escapes to Zarahemla later on (this lack of roads caused Limhi's 43-man expedtion to find Zarahemla and Ammon and his party trying to find the City of Nephi to become lost in the wilderness).
    There were, of course, roads built around the City of Nephi, connecting Shilom and Shemlon and down to Tiahuanaco south of Lake Titicaca during the 200 years prior to Mosiah leaving Nephi to discover Zarahemla. In fact, they had a main road from the City of Nephi down through the LaRaya Pass and into the Titicaca basin.
The City of Zarahemla where it is set back from the Pacific Ocean on a promontory hill about 250-feet above sea level. The view from this temple site was breath-taking, especially from the higher terraces 
    As Mosiah and the escaping Nephites passed through the last of the hills coming down out of the mountain passes, the heat of the day across the low-land area where the desert is a furnace struck them, followed by a slight breeze coming from the distant sea to the West. As they traveled westward and neared the coast, they saw a settlement atop a rise overlooking the sea. It became almost immediately obvious that the city and surrounding area of houses and streets that it “contained a numerous people." Upon encountering them, the Nephites quickly realized that these people spoke a language they could not understand.
    Mosiah caused that they should be taught in his language,” and after they were taught their leader, a man named Zarahemla, gave a genealogy of his fathers, according to his memory, which were recorded on the large plates (Omni 1:18). Mosiahdiscovered that the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon” (Omni 1:15), they had journeyed in the wilderness and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters into the land where Mosiah discovered them and “they had dwelt there from that time forth” (Omni 1:16), and that they “had many wars” among themselves “and serious contentions and had fallen by the sword from time to time” and also that they “had brought not records with them and denied the being of their Creator” (Omni 1:17).
Pachacamac was built with stones and mud brick, the latter is mostly disintegrated by now, but the stones remain almost perfectly in place
The enormous 210-acre, four huge truncated temple site, along with a dozen smaller temples, in the overall 600 hectares (2.3 square miles) of complex, is very impressive. Its stone walls that served as the base for the fantastic adobe structures of great mud-brick stepped pyramidal ramped temples, dwellings, remains of frescoes decorating the adobe walls and other interesting archaeological constructions built by different peoples over time, including vast cemeteries said to hold between 60,000 and 80,000 dead. It was the oldest religious center of indigenous people at the Peruvian coast in pre-Hispanic dating man centuries before the Inca.
    It is interesting that this overall complex, like Sacsahuaman, sits behind a zig-zag structure providing the main access to the compound.
Pacha Kamaq (Pachacamac) was the name of the ancient Peruvian Creator God, or supreme God, creator of the world
    The word “Pachacamac,” according to the chronocles of Garcilaso, Velasco, and Ulloa, or more accurately Pacha (“World”) Kamaq (“to Animate” or “Make”), literally translated means “Earth Maker,” or “World Creator,” “Creator of the World.” In a looser translation, it also means: “The one who animates/generates the world,” that is, "the Great God of Creation." 
    To those who created the city of Pachacamac and lived there originally, Pacha Kamaq was the most powerful God of Heaven and Earth, with the single exception of Inti, Pacha Kamaq’s father, and who created the first man and woman. It is interesting that he was, according to Wilhelm Frederick Griewe, considered invisible and, therefore, was never represented in art (History of South America, Central Publishing, Cleveland, 1913, p84).
    It is also interesting that monotheism existed in Peru throughout its history, even as late as the Inca period. While many cultures had inferior gods, each had one supreme god, and with the Inca it was Viroccha, while much earlier it was Pacha Kamaq who created the world and later sent the deluge to punish the disobedient. However, over time, other gods were considered important as well, and eventually cultures had gods for every possible need, and the knowledge of one god had grown dim and dark, long before the Inca came to power.
    However, before the Inca, Pachacamac was the most important religious center of Peru, and certainly the most important along the coast, already having become a major point of pilgrimages. Through the years and centuries, the pattern of intense pilgrimages extended far beyond the geographical boundaries of the Lurin Valley attracting scores of devotees from the central Andes that came here to consult the shrine’s revered oracle. It is interesting that the records from chroniclers show that the ancient Pacha Kamaq priests acted quite a bit like the Jewish High Priests in regard to the temple with restrictions of activities, isolated areas, and special relics (like the Ark of the Covenant, etc.) and places of special activities (like the holy of holies) and were forbidden to do certain things. One can easily see a form of worship handed down from the pre-Christ era of the Nephites living the Law of Moses.
    In 1533, chronicler Miguel de Estete reports that Pachacamac was the destination of pilgrims coming from places as far away as Tacamez on the Ecuadorian coast, who carried gold, silver and clothes offerings.
    After the Inca conquest of the coast, they took the deeply rooted worship of Pacha Kamaq directly into their Pantheon of gods, but to them, their supreme god Viracocha was more powerful. Over time, Pacha Kamaq became the God of “fire and earthquakes,” because of the vast number of volcanoes and earthquakes that strike this land.
Today’s ruins of Zarahemla, one of the largest overall sacred centers in all of the Andes of South America, mirroring its scriptural record as being the capital of the Nephite Nation and the center of most religious activity throughout the last nearly 800 years of Nephite history
    Less than a hundred years after the Inca took over Pachacamac, however, the great monumental center met its demise. The Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro arrived in Peru in 1532 and took the Inca ruler Atahualpa prisoner. Pizarro soon heard about the riches at Pachacamac and in 1533 sent an expedition led by his brother, Hernando, to sack the site and the surrounding area. The Spanish conquerors made off with large amounts of silver and gold and destroyed the idol that served as oracle for the pilgrimage center. Pachacamac never recovered its former importance and within time faded away.
(See the next post, “Pachacamac: The City of Zarahemla – Part III,” for more information on where the Mulekites settled and Mosiah found them along the cost near Lima, Peru)

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