Wednesday, November 23, 2016

More Comments from Readers Part IV

Comment #1: “What was the value of the defensive wall when it had openings, even if they were wooden doors or gates that were barred. Such can be overcome. Seems self-defeating to me” Victor E. 
The several stone doorways in the zig-zag walls surrounding the northern approach to Sacsahuaman

    Response: I remember feeling much the same way when I first saw those doorways, since there are six of them, two each in each wall on each of the three levels. I never understood their rationale of building such fantastic impregnable walls only to leave these openings, though it would have been the only way from inside of the complex out the back to the open field where numerous activities, rituals and ceremonies took place anciently. I tried to consider how any door could be braced to make it impenetrable and nothing came to mind until I read Garcilaso de la Vega, who grew up among the still-intact Sacsahuaman complex of cut stones. He wrote that each of the gates were operated like drawbridges by lowering or lifting a huge stone into place. Evidently, during attack, they were lowered into place from the inside, and evidently could not be moved from the other side.
Comment #2: “You write about the zig zag walls of Sacsahuaman, but without guns to cross-fire, I don’t see what advantage or purpose this achieved” Phil G.
    Response: The original 60-foot high zig-zag walls provided twenty-two salient (outward) and re-entrant (inward) angles on each level. An enemy would have to expose their flank to the defenders as they tried to scale the walls, which was the main way of attacking walls anciently, either by ladder or by hand. The zig-zag provided a field of fire for sling, bow and arrow, stone, and bricks—the weapons of the early Peruvians.
    Comment #3: “If those Inca roads were truly built by the Nephites, why would Nephites have built roads between Zarahemla, their homeland in Mosiah’s time, and the city of Nephi, in Lamanite hands?” Bronson E.
Response: Not until the time of the so-called Nephite Golden Age, 34 A.D. to about 200 A.D., would roads have been built to connect the north and the south of the narrow strip of wilderness. First of all, it seems likely that the first section of roads in the famous road system was constructed around the City of Nephi (Cuzco) connecting it to Shilom, Shemlon, Chanapata, and the surrounding areas the Nephites would have built during that period of time between when Nephi settled there and when Mosiah left, a period of at least 350 years. This no doubt included building up the Sacred Valley to Ollantaytambo and possibly as far north as the area of Machu Picchu (though doubtful it would have been up the mountain to the city, just to the area).
    The roads to Tiahuanaco, Puma Punku, Lake Titicaca (beyond the La Raya Pass) might also have been built at this time. One of those roads was an average of 15-feet wide, with sections of these first roads paves with flat stones and other roads just hard-packed earth. Low stone walls on either side of the road market the way, and in sections of steep inclines steps were formed or cut directly into the stone. In addition, some of these roads were cut through the solid rock of the mountain, and no doubt some of the rope bridges were strung across gorge and deep river ravines. These roads were probably not completed until around 29 or 20 A.D. when “many highways [were] cast up and many roads made which led from city to city and from land to land, and from place to place” (3 Nephi 6:8).
    Comment #4: “If I understand you correctly, you divide or separate the land of Nephi from the rest of the land south of the narrow strip of wilderness. Why and to what extent?” Rob P.
Response: As Mormon wrote, the Lord brought Mulek into the Land North and Lehi into the Land South, (Helaman 6:10), Lehi’s family would have called that land where Lehi landed the Land of Lehi, and it was evidently so labeled in the first 116 pages that were lost. Nephi’s people obviously called the land where he settled after separating from his brothers, the Land of Nephi. When Mosiah left that land to settle in Zarahemla, the Lamanites took over the city of Nephi and that land and added Lehi to the name, thus we see the City of Lehi-Nephi later (Mosiah 7:1).
    Consequently, the original Land of Nephi probably would have been bounded by the Cordillera Vilcasbamaba on the north, by the cordillera Carabaya on the east (with the Vilcanota waters running within the borders parallel to the Carabaya). The southern border would have probably been at the area formed by the Mountain knot called the Vilcañota Knudo, an area that now separates the department of Cuzco from the Titicaca Basin by way of the La Raya Pass. The western boundary would probably have been the gorge of the deep Apurimac River, a tributary of today’s Amazon River.
    Comment #5: “I understand Hagoth built his first ship around 55 B.C. for some immigrants that sailed into the land northward and this was done “on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation” (Alma 63:5). I assume from this that it means the land Bountiful and the land desolation had a common border. If this is true that means one or the other land included the narrow neck of land. Is that right?” Luke P.
Response: That is a good question since there is nothing in the scriptural record to clarify this point. My personal take on it is that the narrow neck of land was a narrow corridor (Pass) between the two lands in the same way that the narrow strip of wilderness is described as being between the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Nephi; however, this is merely my opinion since it is not specified one way or the other in the scriptural record. What we know is that Hagoth’s shipyard was near the narrow neck of land, which we have shown elsewhere was probably in the Mangrove islands to the southeast of the opening into the channel of the Gulf of Guayaquil.
    I might just clarify one point—we do not know that the first ship listed in Mormon’s abridgement was the first ship Hagoth built. As a shipwright, Hagoth may have built other, and probably smaller, ships before this event; however, it sounds like this was the first of a very large type ship he built since such emphasis is placed on the “exceedingly large” size.
    Comment #6: “Doesn’t Isle of Sol in lake Titicaca suggest that the Inca and early Peruvians worshipped the sun?” Dion D.
    Response: The Isle of the Sun is a modern name, just as the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon at Pachacamac area. It is just as likely that the island could have been called in pre-Inca times as the Isle of the Son since a temple was built there. Archaeologists today, normally not steeped in religious beliefs or attitudes, tend to make everything about nature and nothing about God in ancient peoples.
    Comment #7: “The story of Lehi does not ring true to me from all I have read and seen of Arabian sheiks” Juanita W.
    Response: Arabian Sheikhs (Shekh) held a rather unique place in the ancient world. And Lehi is depicted quite accurately. While he lived, the relationship between him and his family as described by Nephi is actually accurate in the smallest detail. With the usually deft sureness and precision, the record shows Lehi leading—not ruling—his people by his persuasive eloquence and spiritual ascendency alone, while his murmuring sons follow along exactly in the manner of Harry St. John Bridger Philby’s description of the Bedouins—“an undercurrent of tension in our ranks all day...great difficulty to appease their evil, envious souls…”
Philby (left) describes leaving one village with “all of us in the crossest of humors…so out of temper were my companions, that at sunset, of the whole party only one would eat supper, while the rest sat upon the ground, pouting and grumbling…Such a game at naughty children I have seldom seen played even by Oriental men.” In fact, the character and behavior of Laman and Lemuel conform to the normal patter. How true to the Bedouin way are their long bitter brooding and dangerous outbreaks! How perfectly they resemble the Arabas of Lawrence, Douthty, Burton, and the rest in their sudden and complete changes of heart after their father has lectured them, fiery anger yielding for the moment to a great impulse to humility and an overwhelming repentance, only to be followed by renewed resentment and more unhappy wrangling!
How much more accurate can you get? It is as though Joseph Smith lived half his life in Arabia among the Arabs and Hebrews of the desert.

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