Monday, April 3, 2017

What are Defensive Walls? – Part III

Continuing from the previous posts, we take a look at actual walls of defense built to fortify buildings, cities, fortresses, etc. They are found in Andean South America. 
    Obviously, a three or four-foot high fence or wall provides little value in dealing with enemy attacks on a town or city. Early wooden stockade walls in the West were generally 8’ to 10’ in height, meaning to keep out an enemy (Indians). Of course wooden fences became obsolete with the invention of canon, and walls were then made of stone, rock and cement.
    In discussions in this blog we have been inundated at times with Great Lakes, Heartland and Eastern U.S. theorists who claim that remnants of stone walls have been found in their chosen area for the Land of Promise, in order to claim their area matches the descriptions in the Book of Mormon, such as “throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies“ (Alma 48:8), and “the Nephites had dug up a ridge of earth round about them, which was so high that the Lamanites could not cast their stones and their arrows at them“ (Alma 49:4).
Left: Archaeologists’ projection of a reconstruction of a section of fortifications, defensive earthworks, at Becan, Campeche, Mexico; Right: Mounds State Park at Newark, Ohio. The Mesoamerican example (left) is obviously a deterent to attack; the U.S. example (right) would not deter anyone

    Moroni also talked about fortifying existing places as well as building new: “Moroni had fortified, or had built forts of security, for every city in all the land round about“ (Alma 49:13). And also “all of which were strongly fortified after the manner of the fortifications of Moroni” (Alma 51:27). It is also mentioned: “And it came to pass that when he had fortified the city Gid“ (Alma 55:26), and “by their labors, fortified the city Morianton until it had become an exceeding stronghold“ (Alma 55:33).
    Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary definition of fortified is “To furnish with strength or means of resisting force, violence or assault,” “to surround with a wall, with a view to defend against the attacks of an enemy, to strengthen and secure by forts, batteries and other works, as to fortify a city, town or harbor.” Currently, the term means to “strengthen, secure, protect, toughen, bolster, brace, buttress,” as in “the wall had been fortified,” or “the army fortified their citadel” or “strengthen (a place) with defensive works so as to protect it against attack.”
    Obviously, then, “to fortify” has a specific meaning as to strengthen a place, building, fort, or land against enemy attack. Now in Book of Mormon times, such attacks came with bow and arrows, sling and stones, spears, etc., with close in contact with swords. Thus, a short wall, meaning three or four feet in height, would have little value in such fortifications. Yet in the Eastern U.S. a three foot wall is specifically pointed out in a description of a fortified city built with a large portion of a three-sided wall being only three feet high.
    Of course, anything built of wood, such as walls, buildings, etc., in Nephite times, would not have survived over the next 1200 years to when the Europeans began moving into the areas of the Heartland, Great Lakes and Eastern U.S. theorists claim as their Land of Promise locations. However, earth mounds, defensive earthen walls, pits around cities, etc., would have. More importantly, the stone walls Mormon said Capt. Moroni had built all around the land also would have remained.
    As Mormon said, “Yea, he had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort…building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land” (Alma 48:8). To try and match this description, Eastern U.S. theorists point to the remains of rock walls that are still visible today.
Four examples of rock walls that still can be seen in the eastern U.S. Note that these are not fortified walls, but stacked stones, not very high, the tallest about two feet, perfect for someone lying in wait with a rifle, but absolutely useless in stopping an advancing army with bows and arrows, spears and swords

    By way of comparison, let us take a look at some descriptions and photos of fortified defensive walls built during Nephite times in South America. At fortress site of Sacsahuaman, perched on a hill above the city of Cuzco, is an immense fortified work six hundred yards long, built in three lines of wall consisting of enormous stones, some of which are twenty-seven feet in high, and were higher according to the conquering Spaniards, who tore down the higher stones because they were small enough to be moved, and used for the Spanish cathedrals and haciendas the conquerors built.
The three-tiered, zig-zagged defensive walls at Sacsayhuaman, overlooking the city of Cuzco, which would have been the city of Nephi

    Pissac is also the site of wonderful ruined masonry and an ancient observatory. At Ollantaytambo, forty-five miles to the north of Cuzco, is another of these gigantic fortresses, built to defend the valley of the Yucay. This stronghold is constructed for the most part of red porphyry, and its walls average twenty-five feet in height. The great cliff on which Ollantay is perched is covered from end to end with stupendous walls which zigzag from point to point of it like the salient angles of some modern fortalice. At intervals are placed round towers of stone provided with loopholes, from which doubtless arrows were discharged at the enemy. This outwork embraces a series of terraces, world-famous because of their gigantic outline and the problem of the use to which they were put. It is now practically agreed that these terraces were employed for the production of maize, in order that during a prolonged investment the beleaguered troops and country-folk might not want for a sufficiency of provender. The stone of which this fortress was built was quarried at a distance of seven miles, in a spot upwards of three thousand feet above the valley, and was dragged up the steep declivity of Ollantay by sheer human strength. The nicety with which the stones were fitted is marvelous.
Pisac and Ollantaytambo defensive walls built of huge interlocking stone. Even the Spanish conquistadores considered many of these fortresses in Peru to be impregnable in the age of gunpowder

    Another fortified city is that of Kuelap in Chachapoyas, Peru, overlooking the Utcubamba Valley where an entire mountain top was encircled with a wall 60-feet high. Considered the largest stone ruin site in the new World, it is comprised of massive stone blocks nearly ten-times the volume of the blocks used in the Giza Pyramid.  This mountaintop fortress city, rivals any ruins in the new world and comes complete with living quarters for thousands of residents and a 60-feet high stone wall fortification running the circumference to the city.
Top: the entire fortress on top of the mountain; Bottom: the height of the massive walls

    The massive exterior stone walls of this fortress contain more than four hundred buildings, and is roughly 1970 feet long and 361-feet wide, and was built to defend against the Huari or other hostile peoples. One of the special properties of this fortress is that though it is 711,170 square feet, it has only three entrances, and each is wide enough to only admit two people walking tightly abreast, then with 60-feet high walls on either side, it gradually ascends upward for about a hundred feet until it reaches the level of the fortress interior. In all that time, anyone entering is open to bow and arrow fire, and slingshot fire from above, as well as dropping rocks and boulders down on them.
Top: (Yellow Arrow): One of the entrances to the fortress; (White Arrow): Where the entrance ends inside the fortress; Bottom Left: The entrance from ground level—note the narrowness of the entrance; Bottom Right: As on climbs up the narrow entrance, he is exposed to bombardment from above, which can stand out of view

    Note Mormon’s words that a Nephite fortress with the earthen walls round about the city were so high that the Lamanites could not gain entrance “save it was by the place of entrance” (Alma 49:4). Obviously, they built very high stone walls as well (Alma 48:8).
    The point of all of this is that when Mormon talks about defensive walls, fortifications, and fortifying cities and forts, it means something more than some cosmetic approach. When your very life depends upon it, building fortifications become an important pursuit and Moroni was a master at defense, whether in covering his troops with armor and protective clothing, or building or remodeling forts and fortifications with impregnable walls and arrangements. No such items have been found in the Eastern United States, Heartland or Great Lakes.


  1. I wonder if the ruins of Kuelap relate to a place mentioned in the Book of Mormon.

  2. I have thought there is a reasonable chance Kuelap was the city of Mulek based on location. Alma 51-53 talk about the city of Mulek. it was east of the city of bountiful, it was on the east seashore, it was one of the strongest strongholds, Teancum did not think it was possible to attach the stronghold but had to lure the lamanites out, there were plains between Bountiful and Mulek. All these scriptural facts match Kuelap. I can't say for sure Kuelap was Mulek, but it seems a good possibility. Below are some additional notes and scriptures referencing this. I apologize they are not formatted very well- struggling to format it on my ipad. Very interested if Del thinks Kuelap may have been Mulek.

    Called the amazing fortress of Kuelap, or Cuélap, in Chachapoyas, Peru, it is today associated with the Chachapoyas culture, sometimes known as the Cloud Forest people, of which very little is known other than it being one of the most advanced civilizations to develop in the region. Chachapoya. Possible site for the city of Mulek due to being east of bountiful. Near the seashore and heavily fortified. Now called fort of kuelap.

    Alma 51. 26 And thus he went on, taking possession of many cities, the city of Nephihah, and the city of Lehi, and the city of Morianton, and the city of Omner, and the city of Gid, and the city of Mulek, all of which were on the east borders by the seashore.
    27 And thus had the Lamanites obtained, by the cunning of Amalickiah, so many cities, by their numberless hosts, all of which were strongly fortified after the manner of the fortifications of Moroni; all of which afforded strongholds for the Lamanites.
    Alma 53: 26 And thus he went on, taking possession of many cities, the city of Nephihah, and the city of Lehi, and the city of Morianton, and the city of Omner, and the city of Gid, and the city of Mulek, all of which were on the east borders by the seashore.
    27 And thus had the Lamanites obtained, by the cunning of Amalickiah, so many cities, by their numberless hosts, all of which were strongly fortified after the manner of the fortifications of Moroni; all of which afforded strongholds for the Lamanites.
    16 And it came to pass that Teancum had received orders to make an attack upon the city of Mulek, and retake it if it were possible.
    17 And it came to pass that Teancum made preparations to make an attack upon the city of Mulek, and march forth with his army against the Lamanites; but he saw that it was impossible that he could overpower them while they were in their fortifications; therefore he abandoned his designs and returned again to the city Bountiful, to wait for the coming of Moroni, that he might receive strength to his army. Alma 52.
    19 And in the commencement of the twenty and eighth year, Moroni and Teancum and many of the chief captains held a council of war--what they should do to cause the Lamanites to come out against them to battle; or that they might by some means flatter them out of their strongholds, that they might gain advantage over them and take again the city of Mulek.
    20 And it came to pass they sent embassies to the army of the Lamanites, which protected the city of Mulek, to their leader, whose name was Jacob, desiring him that he would come out with his armies to meet them upon the plains between the two cities
    Alma 53:6 6 And it came to pass that Moroni had thus gained a victory over one of the greatest of the armies of the Lamanites, and had obtained possession of the city of Mulek, which was one of the strongest holds of the Lamanites in the land of Nephi; and thus he had also built a stronghold to retain his prisoners.