Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Finding Lehi’s Isle of Promise – Part XXIII

Continuing with more of the scriptural record 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 and Moroni left us, must be reachable by ship “driven forth before the wind” by an inexperienced crew, and qualify for an island as Jacob said, or existed at the time of the Nephites.
     In this particular article, we take a look at the numerous references to textiles, i.e., fine silks, fine-twined linen, and all manner of good homely cloth found in the scriptural record (Either 9:17; 10:24; Alma 1:29; 4:6; Helaman 6:13).
    Thus in the Land of Promise, fine-twined linen and silks were available from Jaredite through Nephite times, or from somewhere around 2000 B.C. to 385 A.D. Therefore, to identify any Land of Promise location, the area would have to have an ancient history of textile development, and dating to at least 4000 years ago with complex weaving techniques and silk material. Like all the other descriptions Mormon and others left us of the Land of Promise and the Jaredite kingdom and Nephite Nation as found in the scriptural record and we have listed in this series, textiles is another that has to be included within the area one might want to designate as the Land of Promise.
Top: The early occupants of the Andean region of South America developed rich traditions of textile production. The excellent preservation conditions on the coast allowed many textiles to survive to this day. Some of the best known Andean textile traditions come from Peru: the Paracas on the south coast (500-200 BC); Bottom: 2500-year-old textiles from the Lambayequew culture of northern Peru

    However, only one area in all of the Western Hemisphere has a record of silks and linen being used anciently and that is the Andean area of South America. In fact, Peru and Ecuador are widely known for their textiles and silk that equaled that of the Old World according to the early Spaniards—even though the Andes did not have the silk worm, the silks they produced from other means (see earlier posts on this subject) were compared by the conquistadors with those of Seville and elsewhere as being even finer. According to Cambridge University, “Peru has the longest continuous textile record in world history. Simple spun fibers many thousands of years old provide evidence of the first human occupation in western South America. Elaborate fabrics, dating from 3000 BC up to the present, survive in large numbers.”
    To further show this, according to Kevin Stacey, in “Carbon Dating Identifies South America’s Oldest Textiles,” while humans have created textiles since the dawn of culture, many are fragile and disintegrate rapidly. Ancient textiles are preserved only by special environmental conditions. The oldest known textiles in the Americas is some early fiberwork found in Guitarrero Cave, in the Callejón de Huaylas of Peru, and are dated to 12,100 to 11.080 years ago (University of Chicago Press Journals, 2013). These textiles of spiral interlocking and open simple twining, both with a Z weft (Karen Owen Bruhns, “Ancient South America,” Cambridge World Archaeology, 1994).
Twined textile of a condor ingesting a coiled serpent dated to 2500 to 1800 B.C., Huaca Prieta in northern coastal Peru, part of the Norte Chico civilization

    Twined textiles of the Norte Chico civilization in the Ancash region of Peru, date back to 2500 to 1800 B.C. Others place the presence of textiles in the Andean area as earlier as 3200 B.C., which continued until the conquest of the Andes in 1532 A D. In fact, it is claimed that the Andean world had the oldest and one of the most complex textile traditions of antiquity (Schevill, Berlo and Dwyer, Textile Traditions of Mesoamerica and the Andes, 1991).
    The oldest in North America date 3000 years after that of Peru (Tamara Spike, University Press of Florida, Gainesville, 2003). And textiles in Mesoamerica date back to the Classic Maya period (250 to 900 A.D.), and only during the Terminal Classic era (after A.D. 800) did ceramic spindle whorls make a widespread appearance in the Maya area. According to Arlen F. Chase, et al, in Textiles and the Maya Archaeological Record, Textiles have been found dating to the Classic period of 250-900 A.D.
    Max Uhle, as early as 1892, established the proof that Tiahuanaco was pre-Incan, an idea foreign to archaeologists at the time. Uhle went on to establish an Andean chronology which developed in pottery and textile typology during subsequent three decades of his life. He was the first to excavate Pachacamac. There he revealed a stratigraphy of remarkable depth and cultural diversity, with cemeteries that, in their spatial planning, retained quite well many aspects of the socioeconomic history of Pachacamac.
    He found that women took responsibility for the weaving of textiles worn by the priests, and made the corn beer (chica) that figured in so many Inca festivals. In death, they were accorded the highest ritual wrapped in fine cloth, and then buried in stout, stone-lined tombs. Each was surrounded by funerary offerings of foodstuffs that were specific to the Peruvian highlands—coca, quinoa, cayenne pepper —rather than the local varieties of plants found in tombs elsewhere at Pachacamac.
    It is interesting in a possible parallel, we find that when Zeniff returned with his immigrants to reclaim the City of Nephi (Cuzco) from the Lamanites, he wrote after they inherited the land of their fathers: “I did cause that the women should spin, and toil, and work, and work all manner of fine linen, yea, and cloth of every kind, that we might clothe our nakedness” (Mosiah 10:5).
    According to Paul Goulder, Academic and specialist on Latin America and Peru, from the ENSCP-Paris King’s College, University of London as well as UNSA, Arequipa, Peru, the country of Peru is considered to have the longest continuous textile record in world history. Plant fiber basketry survives from the earliest B.C. period, and weavings made on a loom are still with us from the Chain period beginning around 1000 B.C. to 100 B.C. (History of Peru Series – Part 8: Ancient Textiles, Peruvian History Information, 2011)
3000-year-old textile made by the Chavin culture in Peru before the Classical Period of ancient Greece (called the Hellenic period) 

    The Paracas culture, which proceeded the Nazca, produced some of the most “dazzling” textiles the world has seen, as attested by the fact that the Director of the British Museum, in selecting 100 objects to tell the history of the world, chose a fragment of a Paracas textile, once wrapped around mummified bodies in the great Paracas Necropolis in Peru, that date to 300 B.C.

Fragment of a Paracas textile, made of alpaca and llama wool, once part of a cloak, found in a tomb and dates to 300 B.C.
    The ancient textile fragments obtains during the William Pepper Expedition, undertaken by Max Uhle (considered the Father of Peruvian Archaeology) at Pachacama in 1896-1897, are now located in the University of Pennsylvania Museum’s Peruvian collection, and include fragments of patchwork weaving  and tie-dye patterning of textiles found beneath the temple at Pachacamac, about 25 miles southwest of Lima (Max Uhle, Pachacamac: Report of the William Pepper Peruvian Expedition of 1896, Dept Archaeology University of Pennsylvania, 1903
 Top Left: 1903 Edition of the Pachacamac Report; Others: Textiles dating to early B.C. period found beneath the Pachacamac Temple during the Pepper Expedition of 1896

(See the next post, “Finding Lehi’s Isle of Promise – Part XXIV,” for more of Mormon’s statements that lead us to a clearer understanding of the location of the Land of Promise)


  1. You wrote: "... City of Nephi (Pachacamac)" But surely you meant Cuzco not Pachacamac.

  2. I most certainly did. I'm breaking in a new computer and it has a mind of its own :)