Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Potter’s Placement of the City of Mulek – Part I

A friend sent me an article on George Potter's claimed location of the city of Mulek, in which his description of parts of Peru, which he also claims is the site of the Nephite Nation Land of Promise, has stated: “Given the evidence, I believe that the city of Nasca in Peru is the best known candidate for the ancient Book of Mormon city of Bountiful” (Potter, “Discovering the City of Mulek,” an article in a link sent to us:
    Potter than goes on to suggest that the city of Bountiful is actually the city of Nasca (Nazca) located in southwestern Peru, by stating: “The archaeological record confirms that prior to the fall of Zarahemla in 34 B.C., there was an extension of Pukara (Zarahemla) influence over the Nasca Empire, which is a likely candidate for the city of Bountiful. Archaeologists have concluded that the most important civilization to arise west of Pukara empire in the first century BC was its sister city of the Nasca Empire.”
Map from Potter’s article, with the location of Tambo Viejo added for clarity of relationship of these locations. Note that Potter claims the city of Nephi (Cuzco) is north of his city of Zarahemla (Pucara), and his city of Bountiful (Nazca) is due west of his city of Nephi, and that his city of Mulek is on the West Coast—all contrary to Mormon’s clear descriptions

The problem with his thinking is that it does not match the clear descriptions given to us by Mormon of these locations. Let’s take them one by one:
1. Location of City of Nephi and City of Zarahemla—Potter has Nephi north of Zarahemla; however, according to Mormon’s description, the Land of Nephi was south of Zarahemla and “was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west, and round about on the borders of the seashore, and the borders of the wilderness which was on the north by the land of Zarahemla” (Alma 22:27);
2. Location of city of Nephi to Bountiful—Potter claims Bountiful was due west of Nephi; however, according to Mormon’s description, the Land of Bountiful was far to the north of the Land of Nephi, and tells us that the Nephites were to the north of the Lamanites: “the Nephites had taken possession of all the northern parts of the land bordering on the wilderness…on the north even until they came to the land which they called Bountiful” (Alma 22:29);
3. Location of the City of Mulek—Potter places Mulek along the West Coast, due west of Zarahemla; however, Mormon tells us that the city of Mulek was on the east sea shore: “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” (Alma 51:26, emphasis added). It should be noted at this point that it was Moroni with an army who was along the west sea, not Teancum, who was on the east seashore, along with the city of Mulek. As Mormon states: “And he also said unto him, I would come unto you, but behold, the Lamanites are upon us in the borders of the land by the west sea; and behold, I go against them, therefore I cannot come unto you.”
Map from Potter’s article, with the location of his city of Bountiful and his city of Mulek (Tambo Viejo) shown and the distance he claims between the two, supporting his claim that the Teancum marched south past Mulek 

4. Location of Mulek to the city of Bountiful—Potter claims Mulek was 54 miles south of the city of Bountiful; however, Mormon, who has already told us that Mulek is along the east sea shore, also states: “Moroni and his army…was on the west of the city of Mulek” (Alma 52:22), so when the Lamanite army came out after Teancum, they were to the east of Moroni, between Teancum’s force and that of Moroni, and Teancum, luring the Lamanites away from Mulek, did “retreat down by the seashore, northward” (Alma 52:23). Now, the city of Mulek was on the “east borders by the seashore” (Alma 51:26), so when Teancum retreated down by the seashore, it was the east sea shore, and he retreated northward, not southward where Potter places Mulek.
The pyramid of Cahuachi, the administrative center of the Nazca culture

Despite all of this, Potter, maintaining his map locations, states: “If Nasca is the city of Bountiful, then the remains of the city of Mulek should be relatively nearby.” He then sums it up by saying, “This is a reasonable assumption since the Lamanite army that pursued Teancum army from the city of Mulek to a location near to the city of Bountiful (Alma 52:23,27).” He then goes on to ask: “So what is a reasonable distance for a long sustained march by soldiers? Carrying their camping gear, the Roman legions were trained to march 25 miles in 5 hours."
    The problem with this is it is completely inaccurate according to the Roman military historian Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus, known simply as Vegetius, who wrote in great detail how the Roman military organized itself (Epitoma rei militaris [Epitome of Military Science], translated by N. P. Milner, University Press, Liverpool, England, 1993)--an original work used by world militaries for centuries. Based on Harry Pratt Judson in Caesar's Army: the Evolution, Compositon,Tactics, Equipment & Battles of the Roman Army (Ginn Publishers, Boston, 1888), who quotes Vegetius that Kit weight: 30-40 pounds; Pace: 40,000 quick step of 2.5 feet at a cadence of 100 to 120 steps per minute (a baseline number still used today in modern Infantry); Distance: 15-20 miles in seven hours; Average speed: 1-3 miles per hour depending on terrain (best area beside a road, not on it). In fact, for short distances, the Roman army marched at the rate of 4.83 kph (3 miles per hour), and for long-distance sustained marches, the Roman Army marched from seven to nine and a half hours a day at the rate of 2.41 kph (1.5 miles per hour). Scipio Africanus, often called Scipio the Great, a Roman general and later consul who is often regarded as one of the great generals and military strategists of all time, marched his legions on an average of 26 miles a day to get from Tarraco (Tarrangona) to Carthago Nova (Cartagena) along the southeast coast of Spain, in six days, but those were extreme numbers on a very forced march, usually it would be only half that amount. 
    It should also be noted that the average marching rate for foot-borne, pre-industrial armies has been a consistent ten miles a day. Only a few exceptionally well organized forces, like the Roman legions, could march more than that on a regular basis. And the Roman Army hit its normal cadence at a rate of 15-mile march a day. They would force march on occasion, but this was rarely before battle (forced march meant longer distance, not faster speed). After all, they wanted their soldiers rested before an encounter.    Potter continues, "The Lamanite army appears to have left the city of Mulek in the morning believing they were going into immediate combat with Teancum's small army outside the city walls. It was only when they were outside the city fortifications that they realized that they had to pursue the much smaller Nephite army. On the open plains (Alma 52:20) the Lamanites "pursued them with vigor" (Alma 52:24). Undoubtedly, the Lamanites would not have been carrying their camping provisions.”
    Potter's purpose in all of this is to come up with a distance between the two cities. He goes on to state: “The Book of Mormon does not state how long the Lamanites chased Teancum's army. It could have been a day, a day and a night, or even longer. However, we know that by the time they were intersected by Lehi's army, the Lamanites were "wearied because of their march."
    Of course, any fast-paced march is going to “weary” an army, but the reason for mentioning this is in the rest of the sentence, when Mormon compares the condition of the Lamanites with that of a fresh Nephite army under the command of Lehi who just joined the conflict. Mormon states: “when the chief captains of the Lamanites had beheld Lehi with his army coming against them, they fled in much confusion, lest perhaps they should not obtain the city Mulek before Lehi should overtake them; for they were wearied because of their march, and the men of Lehi were fresh” (Alma 52:28, emphasis added).
Terrain south of Nazca

Potter goes on to tell us: “The terrain along the seashore south of the city of Nasca (Bountiful) is mostly flat gravel plains where foot-soldiers could cover a great distance in a single day. Further, we know that by the time the Lamanites neared the city of Bountiful, Lehi and his small army confronted them. Assuming that the Lamanite pursued the Nephites for a day and a night, it is likely that they could have covered 50 miles or more before becoming wearied and not fully prepared for battle (Alma 52:28).”
    First of all, the terrain around Nazca, especially to the south, is desert, called the Peruvian Desert or the Nazca Desert, with some of this gravel and some of it sand. It is also quite hilly in places. Potter seems to think that men could march for 50 miles at a fast pace through such terrain. After all, Mormon tells us that: “when the Lamanites saw that he began to flee, they took courage and pursued them with vigor”—a word which is defined as “passion, zest, drive,” “active strength,” ”get-up-and-go,” and “intensity of action.” Thus, it can be suggested that the Lamanite army, in the very beginning of the chase, increased their efforts to catch up to Teancum’s army and that the pursuit was both fast-paced and strenuous. The idea of continuing such a pursuit for fifty miles is without a doubt beyond the normal capacity of most men under such circumstances—and no leader, knowing at the end of the chase, a battle to the death would take place, is going to tax his force so greatly as to render them incapable of fighting once they catch up.
    To put this in perspective, General George Patton, in December of 1944, in the relief of Bastogne during what became known as the Battle of the Bulge, desperately moved his Third Army of three divisions seventy-five miles in seventy-two hours and attacked the southern flank of the salient or preeminent German army against severe criticism of numerous other generals. While this was a remarkable achievement, going against everything the Army preached, it should be kept in mind that Patton’ three armored divisions had tanks and trucks in which to move his troops. Even so, “such speed of movement had never seemed possible over such a large distance until then.”Patton’s race across Belgium to relieve Bastogne
    Again, to put this in perspective, Patton moved his mobile armored army seventy-five miles along existing roads and highways in three days, Potter is suggesting that the Lamanites marched (on foot) across graveled flatland for fifty miles in a day and a half and were “wearied.”
(See the next post, “Potter’s Placement of the City of Mulek – Part II,” for more information why the City of Mulek was not located on the west coast and not the ruins of Tambo Viejo as George Potter claims)

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