Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Evolution of Land of Promise Geography – Part V

Continuing with the understanding of the paper on which Frederick G. Williams wrote that Lehi landed along the Chilean west coast at 30º South Latitude. It should be noted that theorists who champion other sites, such as Mesoamerica and the Heartland and Great Lakes, etc., take issue with the Williams’ note, though they have no explanation what prompted it and why it was circulated about the early Church.
    Yet, even as late as 1908, the revelatory origin of William’s statement was still the issue at hand, again suggesting that members at the time, even highly educated ones, knew nothing of the area Williams wrote down. B.H. Roberts, author of the Comprehensive History of the Church, spoke out against Richards and Little’s passage attributing the Lehi’s travel statement as a revelation to Joseph, the Seer, and made the following statement: “Now, if no more evidence can be found to establish this passage in Richards and Little’s Compendium as a ‘Revelation to Joseph the Seer,’ than the fact that it is found in the hand writing of Frederick G. Williams, and on the same sheet of paper with the body of the revelation about John, the evidence of its being a ‘revelation to Joseph, the Seer,’ rests on a very unsatisfactory basis” (B. H. Roberts, NewWitness for God, Vol. II. Deseret News; Salt Lake City, 1909 pp501-502).
    With that type of thinking, the Williams statement slowly faded into obscurity, and as a revelation, rightly so--since there has never been any concrete evidence that it was a revelation. However, the importance of the statement is not in its revelatory origins, but as said earlier, in the fact that it matches so well what Nephi tells us of his landing site:
1. The party was able to come ashore and pitch their tents, and we have no awareness in the scriptural record they moved from that place of First Inheritance (1 Nephi 18:23; see also Alma 22:28);
2. The area they settled was able to grow seeds from Jerusalem (1 Nephi 18:24), a Mediterranean Climate, and in 600 B.C., it was very important that seeds grown in one place were replanted in an area of matching climate, including soils, soil group, temperature, precipitation, and overall climate.
Only two places in all of the Western Hemisphere have such a locaton for growing Jerusalem seeds, and tht is central California and 30º south latitude along the west coast of Chile

3. A natural forest of great size, capable of providing habitat for both feral and wild animals of every kind (1 Nephi 18:25). Called the Fray Jorge National Forest today, which covers the Coquimbo Region (where they landed), along the Pacific Ocean toward the south from Coquimbo Bay, it is known as a temperate cloud forest, and having the northernmost Valdivian temperate rain forest—a vestigial survivor of the last glacial period.
4. The area was a center of precious metals of gold, silver and of copper, which was had in abundance (1 Nephi 18:25). This area today is honeycombed with gold, silver and copper mines, with this central area of Chile is the world’s highest producing copper making Chile the top copper producing country in the world (with Peru third largest), and seventh in the world in silver production (Peru is third). It is estimated that Chile, which currently has the fourth largest amount of untapped gold reserves could become the world’s leading producer of gold (Peru is seventh).
    Now let us compare this site, which matches the scriptural record and is certainly plausible for later events, such as Nephi moving northward “many days” travel to resettle away from his brothers Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael. Since 1840, all sorts of ruins have been found through the land from northern Chile through northern Ecuador in the Andes--there are also ruins found in Mesoamerica.
    After the Stevens and Catherwood book, Incidents in Travel in Central America, Chiapus and Yucatan, was published, the Saints became aware of the ruins in Mesoamerica. This information, especially the drawings of Catherwood of the ruins, the early members of the Church were soon convinced the ancient ruins found in those lands must surely be artifacts from the Book of Mormon era.
Over time tours were taken to Central America, books were written and archeological digs commenced—all in an effort to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that these were the remnants of the long ago people described within the scriptural record.
    So popular were the findings of Mr. Stevens that articles began to appear in both The Millennial Star and The Times and Season with many of the articles dealing exclusively with Stevens’ discoveries in Central America. It was during this time of excitement that a second landing site for Lehi was proposed which placed him some 3000 miles north of the landing site listed by Williams (i.e. 30 degrees south latitude, in Chile.)
    The first reference to this second theory in The Times and Seasons stated: “Lehi went down by the Red Sea to the great Southern Ocean, and crossed over to this land and landed a little south of the Isthmus of Darien, and improved the country” (John Sorenson, The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book, p. 374, quoting The Times and Seasons, 15, Sept, 1842, pp921- 922).
    The circumstances with this scenario, which is the same overall situation with Williams’ Chile location, is that no one at the time knew anything about these areas. As said before, the west coast of South and Central America were relatively unknown to most Americans at the time. However, there is a huge difference between the two landing sites. Where the 30º South Latitude meets the requirements in 1 Nephi 18:23-25, the area just south of the Isthmus of Darien (Isthmus of Panama) does not.
    We have written many times about the history of the Isthmus of Darien, or more prominently, the Darien Gap, and how it always was, and even today, basically impassable, even with 4-wheel vehicles today. In a Lehi landing just south of there, it means Nephi would have had to travel through the Darien Gap to reach the area where he settled northward of their first landing site. A fete not even possible today, let alone in 600 B.C.
The impassable Isthmus of Darien. If Lehi landed just south of here, there is no way the Land of Nephi or the Land of Zarahemla could have been in Darien—even today it is an impassable, uninhabitable jungle

    In addition, the climate just south of the Isthmus of Darien (Isthmus of Panama) in Colombia is mostly Tropical Rainforest (Af), which is hot with a high humidity climate along with heavy rainfall as isted on the on the highly accredited Köppen climate system. There is also a scattering of Oceanic (Cfb) belts, as well as Monsoon (Am); and Tropical Savanna (Aw) climate, none of which would have been conducive to growing seeds from Jerusalem.
    As for precious metals, gold, though not plentiful in Colombia, is sufficiently available, though it was often mixed to form tumbaga (guanine or caricoli); however, silver and copper are extremely limited. In addition there is no tin at all in Colombia and was unable to work any bronze. In addition, there is a limited amount of iron ore, and there is little evidence that any metalwork was done in Colombia in pre-Hispanic times (Bray, Warwick, The Gold of Eldorado, Royal Academy exhibition catalogue, 1978). Colombia’s wealth is more in nickel, emeralds, oil, and coal.
    The point of all this is simply that Williams wrote down a location on the sheet of paper in question that matches the findings Nephi gave us of what was located adjacent to the area of the first landing. So far, no other site claimed matches all of those factors except 30º south latitude in Chile.
    One can only wonder how it came about that Williams, Joseph Smith and/or Sidney Rigdon came up with that location. Mediterranean Climates would not have been known to anyone in the 1830s. In fact, Köppen’s climate classification was not published until 1884, and then only in Germany, and much later, in 1954 German climatologist Rudolf Geiger worked with the Köppen system on changes to the classifications
    None of this about the climate could possibly have been known, let alone the location known to Williams or the others.
(See the next post, “Evolution of Land of Promise Geography – Part VI,” for more information regarding how the Book of Mormon Land of Promise geography came about).


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  3. Del
    FYI Fredrick G Williams was excommunicated.