Wednesday, June 15, 2016

No Chilean Nephite Ruins Found

On some occasions we have been asked why there are no Nephite ruins, like those in Peru and Ecuador, found in Chile, if that was where Lehi landed.
The answer is quite simple: The Nephites never spent any time in Chile. Following the landing of Lehi, all efforts were turned toward settling that site, with the immediate pitching of tents, getting ground tilled, seeds planted (1 Npehi 18:24), and then sending out scouts to look over the land. Shelter and food would have been of primary importance, as would finding streams for fresh water. Exploring would have been another, for the immediate need of food over the first few months until the seeds grew and could be harvested, would have been of singular primary importance. This would have meant sending out some hunterrs to look over the land around and see to securing any food that might be available.
    In the scouting process, wild and domestic beasts were immediately found in the nearby forest (1 Nephi 18:25). Before one asks where did the animals come from after the Flood, remember the fleeing animals from the poisonous serpents during the Jaredite times where many animals, herds, flocks, etc., were chased into the narrow neck of land and into the Land Southward. Obviously, the Lord was preparing the Land Southward (1 Nephi 2:20) for the coming of both Lehi and Mulek, for there was considerable time elapsed before those landings to give the animals time to migrate throughout the Land of Promise, including all the way south to central Chile.
    In the process the scouts saw surface deposits of gold nuggets in streams, along with copper and silver traces in the rocks, but at the time with shelter and food on their minds, this would have been of secondary importance, and is so indicated as the last thought Nephi writes after their landing (1 Nephi 18:25).
    It is obvious that Nephi spent no more than a year or possibly two in this landing area (Land of First Inheritance), i.e., time to plant and harvest at least one crop, which provided an abundant harvest (1 Nephi 18:24), for Lehi to see and experience his Land of Promise, bless his family, and for his death and burial (2 Nephi 4:12). Nephi also took time to make new plates—usually referred to as the Small Plates (1 Nephi 19:2). Upon the Large Plates he had previously made (1 Nephi 19:4), Nephi which gave a greater account of the wars and contentions and destructions of the Nephites, and upon the Small Plates would be handed down from one generation to another, or from one prophet to another (1 Nephi 19:4).
    During this brief time before Lehi’s death, Nephi took to preaching and enlightening his brothers by reading from the books of Moses (what is now called the Torah), and the writings of Isaiah (1 Nephi 19:23). For a time his brothers wanted clarification of what had been written on the Plates of Brass that Nephi had read to them (1 Nephi 22:1), but after Lehi’s death, his brothers became even more angry with Nephi (2 Nephi 5:1) and plotted to kill him (2 Nephi 5:2,4), so the Lord told Nephi to take all those who would go with him and flee into the wilderness (2 Nephi 5:5).
    How many of his brothers and Ishmael’s family followed Nephi into the wilderness and how soon after he left that this took place, a portion of the group left behind remained in this general area, which they called the Land of Lehi (Helaman 6:10)—which would have included all the land south, if any, of where Lehi settled—the enclave that later existed between the narrow strip of wilderness and the Land of Lehi, roughly south of Lake Titicaca, which probably would have been the area of the Land of Ishmael (Alma 17:19; 21:18, 21). The Lamanites who remained south of this area, were later referred to as an idle people, lacking permanent homes and dwelling in tents, and wandering about in the wilderness with a short skin girdle about their loins and their heads shaven” (Enos 1:20).
    Long after the Nephites were destroyed, remnant Lamanite groups still lived in the far south (now called Chile) and developed more advanced cultures, as remnants of the House of Israel did throughout the Andean area of South America. Here, at Pukara, a fort was built around the 12th century towards the interior from Tierra Amarilla, beside the Río Copiapó, near the village of Los Loros. Today it is an Archaeological District located at the foot of a fort, or as the pre -Columbian peoples called it, pukará. Here are located remnants of pre-Hispanic mining works and cave paintings. The pukará itself is at the top of Punta Brava hill, from which it takes its name. It consists of a rather widely scattered series of dwellings.
    On the other hand, those that followed Nephi’s party, evidently remained further north, close to the area Nephi settled and his people called the Land of Nephi, and the city they built, the City of Nephi (2 Nephi 5:8), calling themselves the people of Nephi (2 Nephi 5:9) or the Nephites.
   Nephi, of course, knew his brothers would find him, and would have wanted to make preparations in case of an attack. Exploring his new surroundings would have been one of the first things he did, and making weapons, like copies of the sword of Laban (2 Npehi 5:14). They also planted seeds again and harvested a second abundant crop, which Nephi knew was a huge blessing (2 Nephi 5:11) for seeds did not just grow anywhere in his day and as a farmer he would have known that.
    Evidently, his brothers, who they began to call Lamanites, must have taken a while before following Nephi’s course, for in the interim, they not only planted and harvested a crop, but also began raising herds and flocks and animals of every kind—no doubt they found many of those in the vicinity of their travels or where they settled, as well as what they might have brought with them.
    Serious contentions broke out between Nephi and his people, and those of his brothers and their people. While many reading this part of the scriptural record are struck with the word “war” that is also used, the word “contention” does not mean war, it means strife, struggle, quarrel, debate, disputing and striving over issues.” Nephi’s brothers obviously “contended in argument” with Nephi, “striving to convince and reclaim” their First Born rights. A similarity would be Paul disputing with the Jews in the synagogue (Acts 17:17).
Nephi’s brothers eventually resorted to fighting, and Nephi “having been a great protector for them, having wielded the sword of Laban in their defence” (Jacob 1:10), fought battles with his brothers and their people. Jacob, toward the end of his life wrote: “And it came to pass that many means were devised to reclaim and restore the Lamanites to the knowledge of the truth; but it all was vain, for they delighted in wars and bloodshed, and they had an eternal hatred against us, their brethren. And they sought by the power of their arms to destroy us continually”(Jacob 7:24). Nephi, himself, of course, knew of the great struggles that would mark the generations between his people and those of his brothers. He wrote:  “many generations shall pass away, and there shall be great wars and contentions among my people” (2 Nphi 26:2).
    The point is, that during the short time Nephi spent in the area of First Landing, he would not have had time to do any building, but once he reached what they called the Land of Nephi and pitched their tents, he taught his “people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance” (2 Nephi 5:15).
    Thus, there would have been no Nephi structures (ruins) in the area of Chile dating to this short Nephite period, like the ruins found in Peru and northward. Whatever buildings (ruins) found in the southern portion of Peru would have been built by Nephi and his people after they settled thereany further south into Chile would have been built by Nephite defectors who joined the Lamanites, such as when the Amalekites and the people of Amulon built a great city, which was called Jerusalem” (Alma 21:2), joining the borders of Mormon some distance from the City of Nephi. Ruins today found in central to northern Chile date to after the Nephite period and are quite rudimentary, no doubt by Lamanites and probably after the Nephite period and likely after the civil wars subsided or came to an end.
    This is why scientific expeditions in modern times have found no ruins in Chile to match the Nephite ruins of Peru and Jaredite ruins of Ecuador in the Land Northward.

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