Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Where Do We Find Accurate Dates? – Part V

Continuing with Joseph L. Allen’s descriptive information in his book Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, that poses as Land of Promise discussion but really is meant to solidify his Mesoamerican model. As concluded in the previous post, it cannot be said that the Jaredites lived until sometime after Mulek landed. Nor does the condition of the artifacts found by Limhi’s expedition prove anything, for there are several answers to this concern, such as:
•  Copper is one of the oldest known metal ores used for making objects, including instruments of war. It was first smelted from ore around 4000 B.C., and use of molded copper soon followed. While it can be bent, it cannot be chipped.  Cold-hammering of copper results, after a time, in stressing the metal until it cracks and breaks; however, once annealing (heating) was learned, copper became easy and useful to join together, fashion, form, and shape. That copper has longevity is shown by the artifacts that have been found all over the world, dating back to prehistoric times.  One such artifact is a cow of copper found in Mesopotamia dating to 2500 B.C.  Also in Mesopotamia, the area from which the Jaredites came, the firing of bricks for use in kilns was developed, rather than using mud bricks. This allowed for higher kiln (oven) temperatures and, thus, better molded products.
•  About the time the Jaredites left Mesopotamia, a subtle change was taking place there in the field of metallurgy.  Smiths were finding that greater control of copper could be achieved with the addition of tin which created bronze. This may explain why the Jaredite copper breastplates were still sound hundreds of years later, for pure copper does not deteriorate like steel or iron. 
•  Also, if steel or iron was used in the sword handles, which was common in Mesopotamia in 2500 B.C., it would show why the handles had perished, but the sword remained (Mosiah 8:11), though cankered. The Jaredite brass mentioned in Mosiah was made of zinc and copper, and like copper, was likely to hold its form and durability over hundreds of years. Though after time, the zinc or tin could canker (rust or oxidize), a term typically applied in Joseph Smith's day to the small ulcer-like rust or oxidized pockets in certain metals.
•  It is probably true that preservation within Mesoamerica is poor because of the tropical atmosphere, etc., as Allen points out.  However, South America, in the Andean regions, boasts one of the great archaeological areas of the world. Here, sites show remains abetted in some geographical zones by incredible preservation.  The desert coast, as an example, has a dryness of climate that has created an American Egypt, an archaeologist's paradise. At Puruchuco-Huaquerones, a site of antiquity on the eastern outskirts of Lima, recent discoveries of mummies in a graveyard have produced exceptional finds because of their preservation in the bone-dry soil. A pre-Inca copper star, part of a warrior's ensemble, was found in almost perfect condition, preserved by the dry climate that has helped maintain numerous treasures. These regions provide conditions for preservation probably as good or better than any place in the world. Obviously, if this is the location of the Land of Promise, as we claim, then weapons, bones and buildings would be well preserved for long periods of time--certainly hundreds of years.
    There is also the fact that the Lord may well have preserved these bones, buildings and weapons of war despite the time frame involved for the sole purpose of impressing upon those who found them of a previous civilization who it was learned, once the plates were translated, were wiped out because they would not remain righteous.
Continuing, Allen states: “The people of Zarahemal (Mulekites) cared for the last Jaredite king, whose name was Coriantumr, which requires the Mulekites to be in the Promised Land. That could not have been prior to the destruction of Jerusalem (586 BC). The last Jaredite battle could not have been later than 200 B.C., because the people of Zarahemla had already cared for Coriantumr prior to the coming of Mosiah.”
    As mentioned earlier, this does not mean that the Jaredite nation overlapped the Mulekites. It only means that Coriantumr was alive when, and just after, the Mulekites arrived in the land. Based on the suggestions above, the last Jaredite battle could have taken place prior to the arrival of the Mulekites. And since Ether, himself, living during Coriantumr's lifetime and surviving the last, great battle, twice stated in the future tense that Lehi and those who would inherit the land from the Jaredites, it might be suggested that the Jaredites were gone from the Land of Promise prior to the arrival of Mulek. While this might seem a minor point, it should be kept in mind that Ether wrote of these events as yet to occur, Moroni translated that future tense into the record and Joseph Smith, with the help of the Spirit, translated it future tense
    All we glean from the record is that Coriantumr was alive when the Mulekites were in the Land of Promise.
    Allen further states: “We can appeal to the Mesoamerica calendar system to see if it can aid us in understanding more precisely some of the Book of Mormon dates.” 
It would be well worth someone's while to read Allen's explanation of the Maya calendar (pp 15-19).  While Mesoamericanists love this calendar, it seems fraught with difficulty interpreting it, and there is no way to know for sure if the interpretation is accurate or not.  Let's state just one area of difficulty:  According to Allen, the Maya calendar, contrary to popular opinion, was not functional as our calendar dating is today. It was necessary therefore, to number both the day symbols and the month symbols and then to correlate them with the Baktuns—Baktun is a symbol interpreted to mean 144,000 days (that's 4,800 30-day months, or about 400 years, and according to this calendar system, the Maya used a 20-day month, 18 months to the year, with a 5-day month carry over to make up the exact rotation of the planet. That would make it 7,200 months, or 400 years—the Katuns (7,200 days)—the Katun is a symbol interpreted to mean 7,200 days (that's 240 30-day months, or about 20 years, and in the Maya calendar, that would be 360 months, or 20 years)—including other numbers such as Tun (360 days), Uinal (20 days), and Kin (one day). 
    Thus, the date reading 6 BEN and 16 XUL—interpreted to mean 16 December 36 B.C.—means that on the 6th calendar rotation of the day BEN (Reed) with the 16th calendar rotation of the month XUL an event happened. Because these rotations continue on forever in their calendar, they placed numbers in front of each day name and each month day.
Now, what if there was a miscalculation or deliberate error incorporated into the interpretation of the Maya calendar, as there is in the case of Carbon-14, or the tree of life Stela (left)? While each numbering system would produce an accurate date, that date would be based upon inaccurate determinations. Further, the day symbol, called Kin, actually means sun; the month symbol, called Uinal, actually means man; and the year symbol, called Tun, actually means stone.
    In addition, one of the important discoveries from these ruins is that the Maya had several calendars. One is known as the Long Count Calendar,  which is reset to day 0 every 1,872,000 days, which is a period of about 5128.7 years, and known as The Great Circle—that is, their calendar time was a circle, repeating itself about every 5,128 years). The last reset date, by some calculations, was December 21, 2012 (when many claimed the Maya thought the world would end on that day).
    Obviously, this calendar is of no interest to the Maya any longer, since their civilization collapsed over a thousand years ago. (Though there are people today who are the descendants of the Maya and the culture lives on through them). The Mayan glyphs and hieroglyphs aren't crystal clear about what the calendar means—and though many had interpreted it to mean the end of the world will occur on December 12, 2012 (which, of course did not happen), the Maya could not even predict their own demise some 500 years earlier. This Maya Long Count calendar begins on August 11, 3114 B.C.—just as our own calendar begins on January 1 of the first year of the Christian era. Presumably, the Maya attached some significance to their own day zero, but we don't know what it was (Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Viking. New York, 2005, p167).
    In addition, the counting system of the Maya was based on multiples of 20, thus a month has 20 days, not 30 or 31.  One of the more interesting ideas in this, is that beyond year, the Maya used concepts beyond even our present counting system.  That is, today we use hundred, thousand, million and added in recent years, the word trillion—the Maya, on the other hand, with a far more primitive need for numbering than present day man with computers, financial empires and huge government debt, yet had two words to describe numbers beyond million. All of this might cause one to wonder at the accuracy of the interpretation of the Maya calendar, especially when it began, supposedly, in 3114 B.C. No date in Hebrew, Jaredite, or Nephite history suggests such a date, even remotely, other than perhaps events during Enoch’s time.
One last thought. Another, perhaps extremely important point, is that even though the Maya calendar supposedly has a start date of 3114 BC, the oldest long count in the Maya calendar is the one given earlier about 6 Ben and 16 Xul, or 36 B.C.  That would be just about the year that Hagoth's immigrants sailed northward from his shipyard on the Sea West and landed in the Land which was Northward and never heard from again. If this land northward was, in fact Central America, going north from Andean South America, then it might be understood that they would indicated that date of some importance, i.e., landing in their new home.

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