Thursday, October 27, 2016

Finding Lehi’s Isle of Promise – Part XVIII

Continuing with more of Mormon’s statements that lead us to a clearer understanding of the location of the Land of Promise, for there can be no question that any Land of Promise must have all these descriptions Mormon left us, or that they existed at the time of the Nephites. In this particular article, we take a look at 3 Nephi 6:7-8, which reads “there were many cities built anew, and there were many old cities repaired. And there were many highways cast up, and many roads made, which led from city to city, and from land to land, and from place to place.”
Highways and roads in Andean Peru, the most complex and lengthy ancient road system in the entire Western Hemisphere

    No doubt these were the same highways and roads that Samuel the Lamanite foretold would be broken up at the time of the crucifixion (Helaman 14:24), and so reported by the Disciple Nephi (3 Nephi 8:13) that the Nephites, after the advent of the Savior, began to rebuild and renew their land after the destruction reported earlier.
    As recorded, these highways stretched long distances, and connecting roads that led from city to city, and place to place with the highways running from land to land. In fact one such highway ran by Nephi’s home in Zarahemla where he went to pray in his garden tower which “was also near unto the garden gate by which led the highway” (Helaman 7:10).
    This is another important criteria—the roads and highways that, from description, ran from place to place, city to city, and land to land, suggesting a very large and complex system.
    These highways were made of some type of solid material, like stone or a form of pavement, since Nephi also tells us that during the terrible destruction that “changed the face of the earth,” these highways were “broken up” (3 Nephi 8:13).
The Nephite roads and highways 1600 years later: Top: Stone highways found in Andean Peru, still travelable after more than two thousand years; Middle Left: This stepped, stone highway stretches for miles, obviously not intended for wheeled vehicles; Middle Right: This ancient road was “cast up” across a series of mountainous valley ravines with an irrigation channel in the middle; Bottom: Stepped roads and bridges meant only for foot traffic

    The highway system in Andean Peru is both remarkable and unequaled anywhere in the Western Hemisphere, and according to the conquistadors who first saw these roads, claimed they rivaled the highly acclaimed roads of the ancient Romans. This highway system ran 3,700 miles, from Chile to Ecuador, with an intertwining and interconnected network of 24,000 miles of roads and highways. Truly, this road system “led from city to city, and from land to land, and from place to place.”
A drawing depicting how the Inca used these pre-existing roads to conquer an entire people in three large countries (Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia) and parts of two others (Chile and Colombia), a total of 690,000 square miles in less than 50 years. Had the roads not already been in place, the swiftness of their conquest would not have been possible

    The Inca called the main road Qhapaq Ñan (meaning Great Inca Road or Route of the Inca), who later used these well-built Nephite roads to help them conquer from Ecuador to Chile. They never could have been built by the Inca, whose existence is figured to be less than 100 years, and once subduing all of Peru, took 50 years fighting first in the south, then in the north and finally in the east into Amazonia, in which most of that time was taken up by fighting wars, subduing and replacing governments, and controlling or policing their Empire. Without these roads already in place, the Inca never could have conquered most of their eventual territory.
    In fact, it was these highways and network of interconnecting roads that allowed them to subdue Peru in the first place, since they could rush replacements and supplies to advanced fighting units in a matter of hours or a day or two—something others could not have managed since all roads centered on two locations, Cuzco (Inca homeland), which was the City of Nephi, and Pachacamac (near Lima) the city of Zarahemla. Once these roads were secured, and in any initial blitz could have been done before any other people would have known what was happening, the movement of troops and supplies could flow uninterrupted.
Today, these roads are described as the grandest engineering achievement of the pre-Hispanic Americas, stretching roughly 3,700 miles along the Andes, from present-day Colombia to Chile. During Inca times, “The Inka” and the royal family traveled by litter. The main road and network still exists in remarkably durable portions across six countries of South America, though it was built without iron tools, draft animals, a single arch, or the wheel. With suspension bridges and ramrod-straight roads laid out by ancient surveyors, the road brought civilization to the Nephite Nation, allowing Alma to go far and wide to preach the gospel as well as the sons of Mosiah and other missionaries. During Inca times, besides sending troops and supplies over the roads, it also functioned as a kind of map of Inca ambitions, an eternal landmark imposed by a preliterate society that left no written documents.
    These roads were indeed an engineering fete of some magnitude, not only because of their lasting value, indicating their road base and means to control erosion, but the standards of rock walls to keep out wind blown sand and debri from collecting on them, often having central irrigation channels down the highway and irrigation ditches on the side to control erosion of the ground beneath the roads. Most of the roads were made of smooth cobblestones, or flat rock slabs, or fieldstone. Over the centuries, in an extremely high earthquake country, most of these roads are still remarkably intact. Some sections are gone that the Spaniards tore up, because after 1000 years or more, the Spanish horses suffered terribly from the sharp edges of the roads’ stepped inclines. When the Spaniards rounded the turn in the road and entered the Sacred Valley and on into Cuzco, they entered the heart of an Empire they could neither understand nor even comprehend, surrounded with monumental palaces and temples, and everything glittering in gold.
    "The royal road!” It was the best-preserved section in Cuzco, a wide, straight portion of the Capac Ñan that ran hundreds of yards, neatly walled on both sides as it traversed the slopes of a steep hill. There were houses below, and a road clogged with traffic above. The path was more than three yards wide, neatly edged, and still floored with stones worn smooth by Inca religious processions.
Top Left: The main road to the northwest, called today the Chinchaysuyu road, but known to locals as hatun ñan (Main Raod) or chaski ñan (Pedestrian Road), which runs from Cuzco to Quito, Ecuador; Top Right: One of the many bridges over deep ravines—Yellow Arrow shows the stone stanchion to which the ropes are secured on either side; White Arrow: the length of these bridges, which today are replaced every two years, can be considerable; Bottom: Three roads: Yellow Arrow: a main north and south highway; White Arrow: An east-west connecting road; The Green Arrow is a modern road

    Looking at the road system today, it is obvious that all roads lead to Cuzco, which was the City of Nephi. A local named Amado said that “Every sacred place had a road that leads to it [Cuzco].” Karen Stothert, an archaeologist from the University of Texas at San Antonio, who began walking these roads in 1967 while still a Peace Corps volunteer said, “You are talking about thousands of miles in some of the most rugged topography in the world. The road climbs 5,000 feet straight up mountains. Sometimes it is built on a stone ledge, just wide enough for a llama. If you bump your backpack, it can bump you right off the cliff, 2,000 to 3,000 feet down.” She has conducted seminal research on the road system, especially in Ecuador and Peru, documenting and mapping bridges, walls, tunnels and drainage systems on the eastern slopes of the Andes. But she is adamant about who built the roads:  “First of all, we call them Inca roads, but many of us know some parts were built before the Inca.” For at least 3,000 years, other cultures, including the Moche and the Nazca, forged roads that connected to their larger world, and engaged in long-range trade for herbal medicine, gold and medicines.
(See the next post, “Finding Lehi’s Isle of Promise – Part XIX,” for more of Mormon’s statements that lead us to a clearer understanding of the location of the Land of Promise)

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