Sunday, April 9, 2017

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

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. It should also be remembered, that when talking about metallurgy, we are not talking about a minor issue, but one of the greatest importance, and one mentioned time and again within the pages of the scriptural record by numerous ancient prophets. 
The fact that one location (Andean South America) has evidence of great metallurgical ability from early B.C. times and Mesoamerica has none at all until around 600 to 800 B.C. (200 to 400 years after the demise of the Nephites), that should be considered critically important. However, Mesoamerican theorists simply shrug it off, with John L. Sorenson claiming in his book, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, p278, “In 1954 I published two articles that presented evidence for the existence of metal object ts from Mesoamerican archaeological sites well before the accepted date of A.D. 900,” he then gives a reference. In looking up that reference, we find “The emergence of metallurgy in pre-Columbian Mesoamerican occurred relative late in the region’s history, with distinctive works of metal apparent in West Mexico by roughly AD 800, and perhaps as early as AD 600,” with that reference none other than Dorothy Hosler (“Ancient West Mexican Metallurgy: South and Central American Origins and West Mexican Transformations,” American Anthropologist 90, 1988, pp832-855) the very same person we have been quoting from in all our works on metallurgy and the most accepted expert in the field for the entire area of the Americas.
    Sorenson, however, goes on to say, “Nearly twenty years later I updated the information and included much more data. Since then additional facts have come out in support of the idea that metal use was much earlier in America than had been thought. One basic lesson we learn from this experience is that the experts were quite wrong. Metals were indeed in use in Book of Mormon times in Mesoamerica.” As a reference, Sorenson uses an American Anthropologist article. While Sorenson does not state what facts have come out, they take two forms: 1) Statements about metallurgy found in the Americas, which we quote here from the referenced article: “Furthermore, in 1998, a discovery in Peru pushed the earliest date of hammered metal back to as early as 1400 B.C., and by 1000 B.C., current information clearly indicates that by 1000 B.C. the most advanced metallurgy was being practiced in the Cauca Valley of Columbia” (Source: Archaeology (Nov/Dec 1985, 81). There is also quotes in the reference that: “Metallurgy was known in Peru from 1900 B.C., and in Ecuador via trade by 1000 B.C.”
Obviously, what Sorenson fails to tell his readers is that those two examples were in South America, 1950 miles or more from Mesoamerica.
    Just a minor detail!
    However, he does go on to write: “Since Mesoamerica is known to have had trade relations with parts of the continent that produced metals, and because metal artifacts dating prior to A.D. 900 have been found in Mesoamerica, it seems reasonable to assume that at least some Mesoamericans knew something about metallurgy.” I wonder if that could be equivalent to the U.S. has nuclear weapons, heavy water, plutonium, uranium-238, a reactor to create uranium-239, and bring about a chain reaction, etc., and because we are a trade partner with Mexico, that they, too, have nuclear weapons. Doubtful, right? But they certainly know the words of such. Which leads us to the second form 2) which is linguistic. Sorenson claims that words for “metal” were known to the ancient Mayan and Mixe-Zoquean language group, the latter supposedly the language of the Olmecs. In fact, one of his references shows that Proto-Tzeital-Tzotzil used a term for metal around 500 A.D., Proto-Mixtecan had a word in 1000 B.C., and Proto-Mexe-Zoquean in 1500 B.C., and Huastecan as early as 2200 B.C.
    Since linguistics is a matter of interpretation, we will never know if these groups had a word that really meant “metal” as we know the term. It is also interesting that Jared Diamond, a professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the National Medal of Science, discusses some of the issues of cultural diffusion in his Pulitzer Prize book Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (W.W.Norton & Co, New York, 1999)a New York Times Bestseller—states: “There is simply no historical evidence that an innovation that exists in one place will necessarily carry over to a new location. In fact, there are places where important innovations used to exist and were lost. That tells us that we must not make unwarranted assumptions about the automatic transfer of [information and technology].”
So much for Sorenson’s idea that contact between Ecuador and Mesoamerica (if such existed during Nephite times and we have no proof that it did), would have resulted in Mesoamerica acquiring metallurgy. But even if they did, they must not have ever made anything in metal, processed the ore or developed even limited cold hammering since not a single metal artifact has ever been found in the entire land of Mesoamerica—an area over 400,000-square miles (about the size of Texas and California combined)—which has had numerous digs by archaeologists looking for metal artifacts for more than half a century, and finding none!
    However, Sorenson is undaunted with the lack of metallurgy findings in Mesoamerica. As he states in his book (p279), “When all current information us considered, it appears that archaeologists should now be asking a new questions. The old query was, ‘why was there no metal in early Mesoamerica?’ Now it ought to become, ‘why do we recover so little evidence of the metallurgical skill that was surely there?’” The problem with Sorenson and other Mesoamericanists, in light of not finding any metallurgy in Mesoamerica, insist that it was there, even when the foremost metallurgist of ancient American metallurgy claims it did not exist before 900 A.D., or possibly 800 A.D.?
    It is interesting that Mesoamericanists, so unwilling to accept the findings of everyone who has studied metallurgy in the ancient Americas (other than BYU, FARMS, or LDS archaeologists), claiming they are all wrong and they are asking the wrong questions. The original question ought to be the issue: “Why was there no metal in early Mesoamerica?” The obvious answer is because there wasn’t any! However, that does not fit well with all these people who have been promoting Mesoamerica for two generations, nor would such knowledge that Mesoamerica simply does not fit the scriptural record and all its descriptions to their careers, projects, standing in the archaeological community, future funding, and furthering of their tours, books, and speaking assignments.
It is hard to have a following when the facts simply are against your viewpoint and “professional” claims. However, sooner or later, Mesoamericanists are going to have to come to grips with the facts that exist. As an example, Sorenson’s book was published in 1985—32 years ago! At that time there had been no factual artifacts or factual proof of metallurgy in Mesoamerica—only a possible linguistic reference to metal dating, according to Sorenson, back to 1000 B.C. Now, 32 years later, there still hasn’t been any metal artifacts found, any physical evidence of metallurgy of any kind, yet evidences of ancient metallurgy have been found all over Andean Peru, even though there has been far less archaeological work done there to find it than in Mesoamerica.
    Just because Sorenson and others who have staked their careers on Mesoamerica claim there was metallurgy in that region during Nephite times. What do they base their opinions on? Only linguistics. As an example, Sorenson quotes Dudley T. Easby, Jr., claimed to be one of the most respected experts on ancient American metal technology, wrote in 1960: “The majority of scholars, relying on circumstantial evidence, believe that fine metallurgy in ancient Mexico was limited to a few centuries before the arrival of the Spaniards. Perhaps they are right, but it seems to be that their theory leaves much to be explained.” In looking up Sorenson’s reference, we find that Earle R. Caley and Dudley T. Easby, Jr., cite: “The smelting of sulfide ores of copper in preconquest Peru, American Antiquity, vol 25, no1, 1959, pp59-65). Easby also has concluded the use of metal among the Aztecs based on examining art works showing pre-Columbian scenes (Pre-hispanic Metallurgy and Metalworing in then New World,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society,109, 1963, pp89-98); also Easby and Leslie Aitcheson, A History of Metals, 2 vols, Macdonald & Evans, London, 1960, Vol 2 pp363-367).
The point is, none of this effort on the part of Mesoamerican metallurgists has produced a single metal artifact that dates earlier than 900 A.D. Even their claim to 600 B.C., is based on assumptive dialogue, and to B.C. times based on linguistic interpretation—not artifacts like are found in Andean South America. Even Sorenson agrees that metallurgy in the Americas was found in South America long before anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere.
(See the next post, “Metallurgy Did Not Exist in Mesoamerica Prior to 600 B.C. – Part III,“ 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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