Monday, April 17, 2017

Metallurgy Did Not Exist in Mesoamerica Prior to 600 A.D. – Part X

Continuing from the previous post regarding the importance that the lack of metallurgy in Mesoamerica is when considering where the Land of Promise truly was located. Also continuing with the comments of John L. Sorenson, the so-called guru of Book of Mormon Land of Promise geography, that are meant to lessen and even question the meaning of the use of metal terminology in the scriptural record.    Also continuing with John L. Sorenson’s continued questioning of the scriptural record as to the meaning of working ore in the Book of Mormon and his desire to lessen its importance and the methods used, in order to justify why metallurgy has never been found in Mesoamerica before 900 A.D. One can only wonder why when evidence of metallurgy is found in numerous areas nearly 3,000 years earlier than Mesoamerica, including South America.
A lead and wood artifact discovered in a roughly 6,000-year-old grave in a desert cave is the oldest evidence of smelted lead on record in the Levant. The artifact, which looks like an ancient short sword, suggests that people in Israel's northern Negev desert learned how to smelt lead during the Late Chalcolithic, a period known for copper work but not lead work, said Naama Yahalom-Mack, the study's lead researcher said, who is a postdoctoral student of archaeology with a specialty in metallurgy at the Institute of Earth Sciences and the Institute of Archaeology at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Moreover, an analysis of the lead suggests that it came from Anatolia (in modern-day Turkey), which is part of the Levant, or the area encompassing the eastern Mediterranean. The artifact was likely a valuable tool, given that it shows signs of wear and was placed in a grave alongside the remains of an individual in the cave.
Lead was being smelted in the Lavant in 4000 B.C.

    Researchers discovered the artifact in Ashalim Cave, a sprawling underground cavern that's been on archaeologists' radar since the 1970s. In 2012, the Israel Cave Research Center remapped the cave, and called in a team of archaeologists when they discovered artifacts.
    Archaeologists Mika Ullman and Uri Davidovich led the archaeological survey and studied the mazelike rooms, including the one used for a burial chamber. The chamber was so small and low that they had to get down on their stomachs and wiggle forward to see the secluded space. It was there that they found the lead artifact.
    Lead doesn't tend to occur naturally in the Negev desert, so after discovering the artifact, the researchers studied its isotopes (variations of an element) to determine its origin. An analysis showed that the artifact "was made of almost pure metallic lead, likely smelted from lead ores originating in the Taurus (mountain) range in Anatolia," the researchers wrote in the study. It might be that the finished artifact was brought from Anatolia, or maybe the raw materials made their way to the southern Levant, where the object was assembled, the researchers suggested. "In this respect, it fits very well with what we know about the Chalcolithic culture, which was a highly developed culture with amazing abilities in art and craft," Yahalom-Mack said, adding: “People from the Chalcolithic period also carved ivory and used a sophisticated method known as ‘lost-wax casting’ to fashion metal objects.”
Researchers stand before entrance to cave where artifacts were found in Israel

There are a few examples of lead work during the Late Chalcolithic, but none has been studied as thoroughly as the new artifact. For instance, archaeologists have found two lead objects dating to before the fourth millennium B.C. in northern Mesopotamia and eastern Anatolia. The point is, of course, that in the region of Lehi, both smelting ore and lost-wax casting, were both well-known long before Lehi’s time, and smelting was also found in Mesopotamia at the time of the Jaredites—and both showed up in ancient Peru/Ecuador during the time of the Nephites, and smelting at the time of the Jaredites; in fact, it is claimed that these two skills or groups were not associated with one another and learned separately, again suggesting the Jaredites and Lehites  brought the skill of smelting to the Land of Promise separately and without involvement with one another.
    In addition, in 1982, Arne Espelund, a professor emeritus and a mining engineer at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, was part of the research team that discovered the 2000-year-old iron production facility at Heglesvollen in Levanger in Nord-Trøndelag, Norway. The researchers found a total of 96 tonnes of slag and four ovens and dug out one of them. They learned that iron production was gathered in marshes in the springtime, and smelting took place in autumn. After the iron was reduced, slag remained. Today, of course, it is the slag heaps that are found since slag did not have much value then, nor does it now except as fill for road surfaces. Thus, hard evidence of smelting an metallurgical.
Such large slag heaps have been found in Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Austria and Catalonia. It is estimated that a farm would use two-and-a-half to five pounds of iron per year until the Middle Ages—not much compared to the 1000 pounds of iron we use annually now, but still impressive. A similar dating period is also found for metallurgy in the Americas, in Andean Peru and Ecuador.
    Sorenson states (An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, p282): “Processing ore gets almost no attention in the Book of Mormon. Only a single time are we unmistakably told of smelting (Ether 7:9). One possible Nephite reference to processing states that they did “work all kinds of ore, and did refine it” (Helaman 6:11).”
    By way of explanation for those unfamiliar with metallurgy: smelting makes use of heat and a chemical reducing agent to decompose the ore, driving off other elements as gases or slag and leaving just the metal base behind. The reducing agent is commonly a source of carbon such as coke, or in earlier times, charcoal.
On the other hand, refining consists of purifying an impure metal. It is distinguished from other processes such as smelting and calcining (heating to high temperatures in air or oxygen) in that those two involve a chemical change to the raw material, whereas in refining, the final material is usually identical chemically to the original one, only it is purer—the process used are of many types including pyrometallurgical (thermal treatment of metal ore) and hydrometallurgical (aqueous chemistry, including leaching, compound recovery and solution concentration).
    The word refine, used by Joseph Smith in his first 1829 translation, which is the process of reducing impurities in the ore, such as while making steel sword blades, the natural impurities of iron are eliminated—the more impurities reduced, the stronger (able to withstand great force or pressure) and tougher (long-lasting, heavy-duty) the steel.
    To better understand steel, it is an alloy, i.e., a melding of two or more different ingredients, basically iron and carbon for tool steel. The addition of carbon to the iron makes the metal much stronger and much tougher—a necessity for a sword blade. It is also important to know that the amount of carbon added makes a big difference, since just a small amount of carbon added significantly improves the strength of steel, and this continues up to about .65% of added carbon where maximum strength is achieved.
Adding more carbon continues to improve the wearability and durability of the steel all the way up to around 1.5% carbon added. So this adding of carbon to the steel in this range creates something typically called plain carbon steels and blacksmiths will work within this range of about .4% to 1.5%.
(See the final post on “Metallurgy Did Not Exist in Mesoamerica Prior to 600 A.D. – Part XI,“ to see how far theorists go to try and bend the facts presented in the scriptural record to maintain their erroneous beliefs, paradigms and models)

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