Thursday, March 16, 2017

Beasts in the Forest – Part VI

Continuing from the previous post regarding the animals the Nephites found in the Land of Promise when they landed, and called: “cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat (1 Nephi 18:25), but archaeology claims have not been found in the Americas. 
    As staated in the previous post, while horses are mentioned in Nephi and Enos, they do not appear again in the scriptural record until Ammon is feeding the horses of the Lamanite king (Alma 18:9), which were used to draw chariots (Alma 18:9-10;20:6).
These five incidences of the word “horse” suggests only their use with chariots—again we do not know if they were ever ridden as the later Europeans did, or even if anyone had horses below the status of the king or his royal entourage, after Enos’ time, though when the horse is  mentioned in 3 Nephi, it is first mentioned in connection to chariots (3 Nepih 3:22), but then later, it is not, but mentioned along with cattle and flocks of every kind (3 Nephi 4:4), and in connection with Nephites in general, so at least at that time it might be suggested that horses were had by the people and not just royalty.
    On the other hand, there are no other animals that have ever been identified with chariots throughout history—so when Joseph said horses, he knew what he was talking about. It is interesting that member apologists consider themselves more knowledgeable than Joseph. Nor do we have any evidence that the Lamanites used horses for riding until they saw the Europeans riding them in their lands after the Spanish conquistadors arrived.
    To discuss either of these two point is mere speculation.
    Later, as mentioned above, during the war with the Robbers, Lachoneus called all Nephites to gather into a central location and to bring their horses and their chariots, as well as other animals (3 Nephi 3:22), which they did (3 Nephi 4:4), and later, after defeating the Robbers, the Nephites returned home with their horses (3 Nephi 6:1).
    Critics claim that “Horses are mentioned eleven times in the Book of Mormon in the context of its New World setting,” however, this is not true. On three of these occasions, the horse is related to other lands (2 Nephi 12:7;15:28) in quoting Isaiah; and once used regarding Gentiles in the latter days (3 Nephi 21:14). Obviously, critics do not read the scriptural record, so really have no idea what is being discussed.
    However, the point is, the horse is never mentioned in the entire scriptural record as a means of transportation other than pulling a chariot. Horse is mentioned only once in the Ether record, and in connection with beasts of burden; only once in 1st Nephi as being found in the land; only once in Enos as an animal being raised; mentioned six times in Alma regarding Lamanite horses used with chariots at the level of the king; and three times in 3 Nephi regarding the bunching of the Nephites to fight off the Robbers, one of these times connected with chariots. In all, horses are mentioned 12 times in the era of the Jaredites and Nephites, and 3 times regarding other peoples and lands. But not once is the horse mentioned as being ridden by man.
    So let us turn to the question, why would we think that horses would have survived the eleven hundred years after the Nephites were wiped out. Except for a king’s use, the horse was never mentioned among the Lamanites in any way, including their movements, wars, battles, escapes, etc. Thus, we cannot assume the horse was ever used for anything but either a beast of burden, or for meat as other flocks and herds were raised. Now since the Lamanites ate beasts they caught in the wilderness, and during the constant wars among themselves that lasted at least four decades after the Nephites were annihilated, it would seem likely that anything edible was consumed by the Lamanites who never grew or herded any animals of which we are aware.
    Like the cattle and cow in an earlier post, it is likely they, along with the horse, were eaten out of existence by the Lamanites who foraged in the wilderness for their food and would have had no use of such animals for anything else.
Unlike the plains Indians of the U.S., after seeing the Spaniards riding horses, they also rode them once they acquired them; however, the natives of Central and South America were not riding horses when the Spaniards arrived. Their lack of such mobility led to their easy conquest. Obviously, had their ancestors over the earlier eleven hundred years had use for horses to ride, they still would have existed at the time of the Spaniards.
     According to scientists, among the main causes hypothesized by paleontologists are natural climate change and overkill by humans, who appeared during this epoch. A variant of this last possibility is the second-order predation hypothesis, which focuses more on the indirect damage caused by over-competition with nonhuman predators, i.e., wild animals, carnivorous beasts, killed off the horses and other domesticated animals because they were easier to catch and kill. The spread of disease is also discussed as a possible reason. And we have also suggested that the Lamanites, needing food during their extensive wars, killed off the domesticated animals during their mindless civil wars because of their readily availability as opposed to having to trap and run down wild beasts.
    Another problem of scientific identification is the lack of objectivity. Obviously, the principle of any science is for the scientist to be objective in his or her work, yet that is rarely the case. William G. Dever, Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Arizona and Distinguished Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology at Lycoming College in Pennsylvania, writes in one of his books that “not since the death of 19th century positivism has any respectable historian been naïve enough to think that they could be entirely objective.”
    Just as obviously, is that the conclusions of many archaeologists will slant towards their personal ideologies, and how they present artifacts will also be influenced by the same attitude. Thus if a person is opposed to the Book of Mormon, or convinced that horses became extinct in the Americas after 10,000 B.C. and did not exist here before the Spaniards’ arrival, it can be accurately assumed that their ‘interpretation’ of the physical evidence will alter the reality of that artifact and change the meaning of the artifact to something closer to their own personal beliefs.
Thus, in the Andean area of South America, though we find numerous influences of Israel and Egypt, as has been shown in earlier posts, findings will not be considered in light of that information, and pre-Columbian horse remains in South America as well as elsewhere in the Americas, will also not be considered.
    Another reason more is not known about the horse and other extinct animals in the Americas is that their remains are much less likely to be preserved and also less likely to be found when they are. In general, organisms do not preserve well after death in subtropical and tropical environments, like in Middle America. This is because of a high rate of decay in them. Even bone decomposes very quickly. Therefore all evidence of previous life is soon destroyed. Another problem is that in these environments vegetation usually thickly covers sediments that might contain fossils. This makes them very difficult to find when they do exist. One exception is caves. Here organisms stand a much better chance of preservation in humid regions. The caves found in the Yucatan Peninsula, as an example, have produced some rare and important finds.  Both extinct and extant faunas have been discovered with human artifacts.
    There are a few post-Pleistocene, pre-Columbian dates for horses that have come to light in the past several years. A recent discovery in southern California serves as an example. Philip Ireland reported, “Archaeologists working against the clock in Carlsbad have unearthed another nearly intact skeleton of a horse that may have lived and died 50 years before the Spanish began their conquest of California.” In this article it was said remains of another horse and a burro (ass) were buried at the same level (Philip Ireland, “Centuries-old bones of horses unearthed in Carlsbad, California,” North County Times, July 17, 2005).
    A pre-Columbian date was given for horses found in Colorado, providing an age of 1260 to 1400 A.D. A second date on horse bone from a cave in the Yucatan has been dated between 1230 and 1300 A.D. (Steven E. Jones and Wade E. Miller, “State-of-the-art physical analysis of archaeological finds and historical artifacts: pre-Columbian horses in the Americas,” July 30, 2004). Of the 18 successful dates, 12 were found to be post-Columbian, 3 dated to the last Ice Age. The remaining three yielded dates that were post-Pleistocene and pre-Columbian (Pratt Cave, Texas, Wolf Spider Cave Colorado 1260-1400 A.D.., and Cozumel Island, Mexico 1230-1300). The dated find from Carlsbad, California, shows that some horses still survived in western North America even at the time Spaniards first reintroduced them in 1493!
Dr. Steven E. Jones, a retired physicist from Brigham Young University, writes about the American horse findings in the Americas, stating: “The first of these was found in Pratt Cave near El Paso, Texas, by Prof. Ernest Lundelius of Texas A&M University. Prof. Lundelius responded to my inquiries and provided a horse bone from Pratt Cave which dated to 6020 – 5890 B.C. This date is well since the last ice age, into the time frame when all American horses should have been absent according to the prevailing paradigm” (Jones, “Horses in America Before Columbus,” The Lost History of Ancient America, New Page Books, 2016, Edited by Frank Joseph).
    According to Ricardo Velázquez-Valadez, “a good number of bone instruments were found directly associated with remains of Pleistocene megafauna, principally the horse (Equus conversidens) and animals now extinct.” These had an age of 1805 B.C. (± 150 years) showing that the horse existed in the Americas during the time of both the Jaredites and the Nephites.
    Positive post-Pleistocene to pre-Columbian ages for horses in America are admittedly few, but they are not non-existent, and more continue to be added as more field work is accomplished. How many it will take to convince the major body of scientists, especially paleontologists and archaeologists, to accept this new paradigm is unknown. However, there are more horse specimens from Mesoamerica and South America that are presently being run for additional radiocarbon ages by a relatively small number of professionals who are interested in the subject.

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