Monday, May 8, 2017

Khor Rori”s Wadi Darbat—the Valley of Large Trees – Part I

There are a few differing claims by scholars who have been to Oman’s coast looking for a harbor where Nephi could have launched his ship, Khor Rori being one, and the Wadi Sayq (meaning “River Valley”) at Khor Kharfot being the other. The first is about 6 miles east of Salalah and the latter about 65 miles west of Salalah. In an earlier article, we wrote about the reasons Khor Kharfot is not the location of Bountiful (See post: Friday, October 30, 2015, “Khor kharfot is Not Where Nephi Launched His Ship”). 
“And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters” (1 Nephi 17:8)

    In order to carry out this command, Nephi would have to know certain things:
1. Where to find ore that could be smelted so he could form and make tools;
2. He would need to know where to find trees of suitable quality for making the ship;
3. He would have to know how to build the ship from the Lord’s own directions.
    In their book, Lehi in the Wilderness, Potter and Wellington write about Stephen Done, an avid sailor and builder of wooden ships and LDS, and a personal friend, traveled to Oman to visit Khor Karfot to see if it could have been the launch site of Nephi’s ship. However, they were quite disappointed with the results, for he returned and told them without reservation that Khor Kharfot could not have been Bountiful. Why? “Because there were none of the raw materials one would need to build a large ship. Additionally, even if proper materials could have somehow been found there, the site is today an open beach with no protected harbor and there is no evidence that it was anything different in Lehi’s time. Stephen made it clear to us that a large sailing ship could not be launched in shallow water and breaking surf.”
He went on to remind Potter and Wellington that the Bountiful story centered around the building of a great ship; one large enough and strong enough to cross two great oceans! His advice was, if you want to find Bountiful, start looking for a protected harbor where Nephi could build and launch a large ship.”
    According to Potter and Wellington, “He thus provided us with a paradigm shift. Everyone before us had been looking for a site that was green or ‘bountiful,’ but now Stephen had given us some concrete requirements for Nephi’s Bountiful. The essential ingredient for Bountiful was not only fruit, but the resources needed to build a large ship and a place to launch it.” (pp140-141).
    This is what happens when one starts looking for individual areas mentioned in the scriptural record and not following the text step by step from one point to another, which then leads one to an inescapable conclusion.” Rather than look for a “Bountiful” one should have followed Lehi’s trek along the Frankincense Trail that ultimately led to the right place of Khor Rori where not only a ship could be built and launched, but as a bonus matched the climate and locale of the scriptural description.
    Obviously, then three criteria must be achieved:
1. The location must be bountiful—an area of fruit and honey;
2. The location must provide a protected harbor; and
3. The location must have the necessary raw materials in order to construct a large, ocean going ship.
Must have a protected harbor to allow the building of a ship

Many scholars and researchers believe that the location of Bountiful can be correlated with any of several locations on Oman’s southern Dhofar coast on the Arabian peninsula. Locations that have been evaluated are Wadi Hajr (Yemen), Wadi Masilah (Yemen), Dhalqut, (Oman), Wadi Sayq and Kohr Kharfot (Oman), Rakhyut (Oman), Salalah (Oman), and Khor Rori and the Wadi Darbat (Oman). Therefore, to find the right location, one needs to match the criteria outlined in the scriptural record. In order to match the characteristics outlined, it is suggested that there are 12 different requirements that a viable location for Bountiful must meet:
1. The location must lie nearly eastward of Nahom (1 Nephi 17:1);
2. The coast must be accessible from the interior desert (1 Nephi 17:4-6);
3. Both the general area and the location when the Lehites camped must be fertile and capable of producing crops;
4. It must be a coastal location (1 Nephi 17:5);
5. It must be very fertile, with "much fruit and also wild honey" and small game (1 Nephi 17:5-6);
6. Timber must be available with which to build a ship (1 Nephi 17:8);
7. Fresh (drinkable) water must be available year-round.
8. A mountain must be located nearby to account for Nephi's reference to going to a mountain to "pray oft" (1 Nephi 18:3);
9. Cliffs overlooking the ocean must be present to account for Nephi's brother's attempt to throw him "into the depths of the sea" (1 Nephi 17:48);
10. Ore and flint must be available with which to make fire and fabricate tools to build a ship" (1 Nephi 17:9);
11. No resident population at the time of the Lehite's arrival, for none are mentioned in the record; and
12. Wind and ocean currents capable of carrying a ship out into the ocean (1 Nephi 18:8).
The Sand Bar at the entrance did not exist in antiquity but has built up over the centuries

After visiting and evaluating every site on the southern Arabian coast that might qualify as Bountiful, Aston concluded that all sites were found to be incapable of meeting every one of these requirements with the exception of Wadi Sayq/Khor Kharfot (Aston & Aston 1994), however based on Stephen Done’s  evaluation stated earlier, and Khor Kharfot’s basic inaccessability we agree with other researchers who disagree with Aston and favor Khor Rori to the east of Salalah (Stanley D'cunha, “Salalah – Dhofar region in Sultanate of Oman: Land of Bountiful, as described in the Book of Mormon,” Salalah - Dhofar region in Sultanate of Oman, 9-28-2006).  
    Khor Rori has:
1. Accessibility for caravan arrival from the desert,
2. Rich abundance of timber-bearing ancient and modern groves,
3. Fresh vegetation extending from Kohr Rori many miles up the Wadi Darbat,
4.  Large amounts of year-round fresh water teeming with aquatic and wildlife,
5. Abundance of wild honey,
6. An inland natural port framed by twin integral seaside cliffs,
7. A readily accessible mountain backdrop for Nephi's prayers,
8. Annual monsoon season floods that easily transport timber from Wadi Darbat directly to the seaside Kohr Rori port,
9. A protected harbor in which a ship could be rigged and seamanship could be learned,
10. For centuries after Lehi’s time, Khor Rori was used as shipping port, major city and fort, and a seaman’s stopover for Roman and Arabian shipping.
(See the next post, “Khor Rori”s Wadi Darbat—the Valley of Large Trees – Part II,” for more on Khor Rori and Wadi Darbat and how they match the criteria of the Book of Mormon and Nephi’s location for building his ship)

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