Saturday, September 9, 2017

Cerrro Vigia is Not Cumorah

The proponents of the Limited Tehuantepec Theory of Book of Mormon geography have suggested that a mountain in the southeastern part of the state of Veracruz might be the original Hill Cumorah. This mountain goes by the name of Cerro Vigia, (or Lookout Hill), and is located near Santiago Tuxtla, Veracruz, Mexico.
The backside of the hill Vigia. Note there is not much to keep the Lamanites from overrunning the hill in a mop up operation, yet Cumorah was not breached after the final battle and the following day 24 Nephite survivors stood atop it to oversee the carnage below

This mountain is about 70 miles WNW of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, which Mesoamericanists have proposed is the “narrow neck of land” mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Nearby is the city of Santiago Tuxtla located in the Mexican state of Veracruz; in a valley between Cerro El Vigia, and the slopes of Volcano San Martin Tuxtla, on the edge of the Rio Tepango. Also nearby is a large waterfall called Salto de Eiypantla, 131 feet wide and 165 feet high.
    Disregarding all the other problems with the Limited Tehuantepec Theory, let us consider this mountain based solely on the criteria for the Hill Cumorah listed or suggested in the Book of Mormon.
The hill, Cerro Vigia, is an isolated part of the Tuxtla Mountain chain near the Gulf of Mexico. It is 2700 feet in elevation, rising 1500 feet above the surrounding farmland. Vigia is an extinct volcano composed of eroded basaltic lava flows. It is sporadically covered with semi-tropical vegetation and much of it has been clear for farming, some of the plots extending almost to the crest.
    Several archaeological studies have been completed on the area including the most recent one that was an archaeological survey of the entire surrounding area (Tepango Valley Archaeological Survey: Tuxtla Mountains, Southern Veracruz, México FAMSI 2008 by Wesley Stoner).
    These studies have determined that the area was continuously occupied from mid- formative times (900 BC) to the Postclassic (1000-1421 AD). There were a number of major habitation sites nearby or within 3-6 miles of Vigia. There is no obsidian at the site, so any use for weaponry would have been imported.
    What does this data tell us?
1. The hill, Cerro Vigia, is about three or four miles from the coast, about seventy (70) miles from the area of Tehuantepec, that is the Mesoamerican “narrow neck of land.
Response: The placement of Vigia as the hill Cumorah is far too close to the narrow neck. The scriptural record suggests that the hill Cumorah is far to the north in the Land Northward, described by Mormon as being in “the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites” (Mormon 6:4). This area of Cumorah was nearly at the northern extreme of the Land Northward, not a few miles into the Land Northward.
2. There is no archaeological evidence that this was a battleground in 385 AD, otherwise there would have been substantially more lithic artifacts, arrow points, etc. as well as evidence of burned habitations and buildings.
    Response: While there should have been arrow points and stone artifacts, etc., there would have been no permanent buildings in the area at the time of the battle in 385 A.D. Mormon would not have chosen an occupied area for a battleground, and none is mentioned. However, what is mentioned is that the Nephites “pitched their tents around about the hill Cumorah” (Mormon 6:4). Considering some 230,000 fighting men, plus wives and children, this would have been a significant number and there would have been little room to do so if the area was occupied with buildings, etc. Besides the Book of Mormon gives the impression that the Cumorah area was an uninhabited region. This is certainly not the case with Vigia. It was continuously occupied early on until the conquest and there is no evidence that there was a depopulation at any time around 385 AD.
3. There should have been evidence of abundant stone weaponry (i.e. arrow points, knives, axes, etc.)
Response: This is not the case, the extensive artifacts of ceramic indicate habitation sites and not battle zones. For example at the site of Totógal 27,000 ceramic artifacts were recovered, compared to 457 stone ones, hardly what might be expected to be found where a artifacts vastly outnumber the stone ones for a battle of at least 2/3 of a million people fought a deadly war that left at least 300,000 dead.
4. All the obsidian, which could have been used for weaponry, would have been imported
    Response: Mormon said he went to Cumorah to gain an advantage over their enemies (Mormon 6:4). There would have been no advantage as far as weaponry was concerned if all obsidian had to be brought in. Of course the argument can be made that their weapons and arrowheads were made prior to arrival and the battle there was quite short (1 day) and none would have had time to make arrowheads once the battle began. How long they were there before the Lamanites arrived is not known, but one gets the impression it was not long.
5. The location of major site of Tres Zapotes is about six miles away.
    Response: This site, six miles to the east of Vigia, was occupied from 1000 B.C. to 900 A.D., but as a Nephite city, would have been destroyed during this battle if there had been such a city that close to the area. Yet, there is no such evidence of any destruction of this area.
Tres Zapote would have been an area of retreat for thousands of Nephites fighting at the Hill Cumorah, yet no meniton of such a location is given in Mormon’s account 

Tres Zapotes is believed to be an Olmec site, emerged as a regional center early in the Middle Formative period (900-800 BC), which is at the time the Jaredites were in the area, but unlike La Venta, was not abandoned at the close of the middle Formative period (400 BC), yet would not have been occupied by the Jaredites who were annihilated before that date, which occupation continued for several hundred years afterward.
6. The hill Shim was to the West of Cumorah, and nearby Sierra de Otontepec or Bird Hunter Mountain (another hill, 200 miles north of Tehuantepec, is called Omitepetl, which means “bone hill”) has often been cited as an alternative for the hill Shim, and one of the local views associated with Cumorah.
    Response: The problem is, Sierra de Otontepec is to the East of Vigia, not the West. In addition, if any hill would carry the reference to “bone hill,” it would be Cumorah, not Shim.
7. Cerro Vigia is a free standing mountain, therefore, Mormon’s army could have camped all around it.
    Response: Travel on foot around the mountain  base, starting and ending at Santiago Tuxtla, takes three hours. This would be excessive for an army to use as a base since there would be at least an hour and a half in any direction to make contact with all the troops during a battle.
    There appears very little to recommend Cerro Vigia or even the area surrounding it as the area of the Hill Cumorah. The fact that it is located so close to the Mesoamerican narrow neck of land should disqualify it from the start, but there appears to be a strong attitude among Mesoamericanists that the hill was very close to the narrow neck, contrary to the scriptural record.
(See the next post, "The Mount Imbabura as Cumorah," for where the hill Cumorah is actually located)

1 comment:

  1. Years ago I took Sorenson's book and made a map of the geography and lay out of the cities. Very little matched the Bom. But what was interesting is what you've found is direct contradictions of the scriptual record. Any thinking person should reject the model on those contradictions alone. Why hang on to something that is obviously wrong in so many ways.