Thursday, October 5, 2017

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

Continuing from the previous article regarding the location of the city of Mulek and the other information provided by George Potter regarding his chosen location in a submitted article. 
   As discussed in the previous article, the reason why Potter has to move his Lamanite army fifty miles in a short period of time, is because in his search for a likely location for the city of Mulek in his scenario in southwestern Peru, the only nearby ruins of an ancient city to Nazca, was 54 miles to the south. However, it is one thing to make a claim on paper of a movement of troops, but something else entirely for that movement to ring true and be realistic. Fifty-four miles in a day and a half is simply out of the question to claim that the Lamanite army chased Teancum’s Nephite army that distance in such a short time—and to do so without supplies as Potter states: “Undoubtedly, the Lamanites would not have been carrying their camping provisions.”
    While movies and books don’t dwell on the supply train of any army movement, no army can move without food and supplies—and no army is going to chase an enemy for a day and a half without stopping to eat along the way.
    Patton’s remarkable achievement, with mobile transportation over existing roads, averaged a speed of .96 miles per hour. At that rate, it would have taken the Lamanites, marching on foot, fifty-two hours to travel fifty miles that Patton’s mobilized army did.
    As ridiculous as that scenario might be considered, Potter makes another mistake about his choosing Tambo Viejo as the city of Mulek. First of all, Mormon tells us the city was fortified.
    Of fortifying or fortifications, Mormon makes it clear that Moroni caused his army to “also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land. And in their weakest fortifications he did place the greater number of men; and thus he did fortify and strengthen the land which was possessed by the Nephites” (Alma 48:8-9). In addition, Mormon explains that fortifications were “erections” when he explained that Moroni, “caused them to erect fortifications that they might secure their armies and their people from the hands of their enemies” (Alma 50:9, emphasis added).
    Thus, Mormon tells us that “when the Lamanites saw this they were affrighted; and they abandoned their design in marching into the land northward, and retreated with all their army into the city of Mulek, and sought protection in their fortifications” (Alma 52:2), he is obviously referring to a fortified city with "erected fortifications," i.e., solid walls for defense. “Teancum thought it was not expedient that he should attempt to attack them in their forts” (Alma 52:5). Also, that Teancum “resolved upon a plan that he might decoy the Lamanites out of their strongholds” (Alma a 52:21).
    Now, understanding that the city of Mulek was a fortified city, and that as a city it was surrounded by a fortified wall of stone, we compare that to the ruins found at Tambo Viejo, Potter’s suggestion for the city of Mulek, and learn that Tambo Viejo is on the southern outskirts of the city of Acari, along the eastern banks of the Acari River, as well as extensive ruins on the west bank between the river and the highway from Lomas to Santa Lucia, with the ruins of Tambo Viejo flowing over and covering the hill of Otapara in the Acari Valley.
    Consider that, according to Dr. Aleš Hrdičksa, Curator, Divison of Physical Anthropology, U.S. National Museum (Anthropological work in Peru, in 1913, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, 1914) there were foundation walls in the ruins of Tambo Viejo, but not exterior walls nor was Tambo Viejo a walled city as Mulek would have been to present such a fortified obstacle to Teancum wanting to attack the Lamanites in Mulek. As Mormon describes it, “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 52:17).
According to Lidio M. Valdez, Tambo Viejo was mostly built of platform pyramids and individual  houses, all of rounded river stone

In addition, Lidio M. Valdez, an historical anthropologist of the MacEwan University, Edmonton, Canada, states: “studies carried out by different researchers indicate that early Nazca settlements were small unfortified villages dispersed along the course of the rivers (Human decapitation and fortified settlements in the Acari Valley, Peru, Conference paper, Journal of Andean Archaeology Vol 34, No2, May 2017). In fact, he also states that the first fortified cities in the Acarti Valley did not begin until around 100 A.D., which would be about 150 years after Moroni’s death (Lidio M. Valdez, “Fortified Settlements and the Origins of Conflict in the Acari Valley, Peru,” South American Archaeology Seminar, May 2012, UCL Institute of Archaeology)
By Comparison, this is an image of Tambo Colorado, an obvious walled city with a wall around the entire complex—something missing in Tambo Viejo

Despite all of these obvious problems, Potter goes on to say: “Given the above evidence, I believe that the city of Nasca in Peru is the best known candidate for the ancient Book of Mormon city of Bountiful.”
    Now, in order to set the stage and understand the locations, we need to follow the events taking place between Moroni, Teancum, and the Lamanites army in the scriptural record:
• While Moroni was engaged in the Land of Zarahemla contending with the rebellious Nephite King Men (Alma 51:14);
• Amalickiah came down at the head of his Lamanite army (Alma 51:9,12);
• Lamanites captured several Nephite cities, all of which were on the east borders by the seashore (Alma 51:26, emphasis added) moving northward toward Bountiful;
• The Lamanites marched to the borders of the land Bountiful driving the Nephites before them (Alma 51:28);
• Teancum, who had killed Morianton and stopped the King Men’s efforts to gain the Land Northward (Alma 51:29);
• Teancum also stopped the Lamanites northward movement (Alma 51:31);
• Teancum pitched his tents in the borders of the land Bountiful, and Alalickiah pitched his tents on the beach by the seashore (Alma 51:32);
• Teancum kills Amalickiah (51:34, 37);
• Lamanites retreat into the city of Mulek (Alma 52:2);
• Moroni tells Teancum to fortify the land Bountiful and secure the narrow pass into the Land Northward (Alma 52:9);
• Moroni still by the West Sea near Zarahemla was dealing with another Lamanite army (Alma 52:12);
• Moroni who was protecting the west and south borders of the land of Zarahemla, later headed to the land of Bountiful to assist Teancum (Alma 52:15);
• Moroni arrives in the land of Bountiful (Alma 52:18);
• A plan to draw the Lamanitesout of the city of Mulek is devised (Alma 52:19);
• Teancum took a small number of men and marched down near the seashore (Alma 52:22);
• The Lamanites leave the city of Mulek and chase after Teancum, who retreats down by the seashore northward (Alma 52:23);
• Part of Moroni’s army retakes Mulek (Alma 52:24), and the other part follows the Lamanites who are pursuing Teancum (Alma 52:26);
• Lamanites pursue Teancum all the way to nearly the city of Bountiful (Alma 52:27);
• Lehi, who had been left to guard the city of Moroni, intercepted the Lamanite army pursuing Teancum (Alma 52: 27-28);
• The Lamanites found themselves surrounded by three Nephite armies of Moroni, Lehi, and Teancum (Alma 52:31).
Mormon tells us that the city of Mulek is "far to the north" along "the east seashore," with a plain between it and the city of Bountiful 

In all of this, we see that the city of Mulek was along the Sea East, with a Plain (Alma 52:20) between Mulek and the city of Bountiful, which was to the west of Mulek. Now a “Plain” is defined as “a large area of flat land with few trees.” It could be a “grassland, prairie, flatland, lowland, pasture, meadowland, savanna, steppe, tableland, tundra pampass or veld.” In geography, a plain is “a flat, sweeping landmass that generally does not change much in elevation; plains occur as lowlands along the bottoms of valleys or on the doorsteps of mountains, as coastal plains and as plateaus or uplands." Note, that in all of this, it is not described as a desert as Potter claims.
While plains are described as nearly every type of flat, level ground, they are not described as a desert

In fact, according to Geoff C. Brown, et al, in Understanding the Earth (Cambridge University Press, 1992, p 93), plains are one of the major landforms on earth, where they are present on all continents, and would cover more than one-third of the world’s land area. Plains would generally be listed under the grassland (temperate or subtropical), steppe (semi-arid), savannah (tropical), or tundra (polar) biomes (Vivien Gornitz, Encyclopedia of Paleoclimatology and Ancient Environments, Springer Nature International Publisher, Dordrecht, Netherlands, 2009, p 665). It is also important to know that plains are often connected with agriculture and plantingsomething that would never include a desert. In fact, plains in many areas are important for agriculture because where the soils were deposited as sediments and would be deep and fertile, while the flatness facilitates mechanization of crop production; or because they support grasslands which provide good grazing for livestock. Either way, the idea of a desert would simply not fit the description of a Plain.
    The point is, that choosing Tambo Viejo as the city of Mulek is neither consistent with the scriptural record and descriptions Mormon gives us, nor the reasonable understanding of the events surrounding the city of Mulek.


  1. Potter did well in his studies in Arabia, and in his choice of South America, but somehow he lost his way after that.

    Science frowns at the idea that the Amazon basin was under water before the time of Christ, so he probably did not want to be "unscientific" -- as it seemed to him.

  2. I've been a little puzzled by these last two posts because Del's proposed sites of Bountiful (Cajamarca) and Mulek (Kuelep) are also about 60 miles apart. So, they also cannot be marched in a day. Even if Mulek is not Kuelep, Cajamarca was still more than 50 miles from the east sea.

    After a careful re-reading of Alma 52, I realized that Brother Potter's assumption that the distance from Mulek to Bountiful is a days hike is not found in the scriptures. Potter does state that we do not know how long they hiked maybe "a day maybe a day and night, maybe more". That is accurate per Alma 52. So all the discussion about it being about 50 miles is meaningless.

    (I understand that Del realizes this. He was not arguing for or against the 50 mile claim. He was pointing out that Potter claims the distance of 50 miles, then indicates they could have marched that far in a day- which is likely not accurate as Del has shown.

    I've corresponded with Br. Potter a few times over the years and he is a very kind person. He did great work on Saudi Arabia. I've encouraged him to look at Priddis and Del's work. I'd love it if he could direct his good work to the more probable locations in Peru that match the scriptural text.

    I asked him once what he thought about Del's work and he did indicate that it seemed to stray from science, so your thought is probably correct erichard. Del had a couple recent posts about the rising of the Andes that show a good deal of compelling science for the Amazon basin being under water. I plan to send links to them to Br. Potter this weekend. My hope is that he can learn from the great work done by Priddis and Del and focus his travels and research in the right areas.

  3. Here is the response that I just received from Brother Potter:

    Dear Paul,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me.

    I have yet to have anyone provide me with a consistent model for the lands of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon authors were not providing a detailed geographical map for us, rather a spiritual guide. There simply is not enough information in the record to construct a consist map.

    My take is that if we are to seriously defense the Book of Mormon we need to use the most accurate science based methods possible. No serious geologist believes the Andes mountains rose up during Book of Mormon times. The Amazon basin has been inhabited for 40,000 years. Soundless theories from wishful thinkers is not a defense of the Book. Indeed, relying on such myths, indicates to critics just how weak our defenses are. This is why I try to avoid quoting LDS authors and stick with actual archaeology.

    I attached a copy of the Nephi Projects Spring Newsletter about the Sea on the North -- this was a recent discovery for me. To consider the evidence I have for why Lake Titicaca is the Sea East, please read my book Nephi In the Promised Land.

    Again, mine is just one approach to defending our sacred book against critics. The more solid candidates we have the better. So keep exploring yourself.

    So I wrote him back and said this:

    Bro Potter,

    If I understand you correctly... the words and prophecies of Samuel the Lamanite are not to be believed?

    20 But behold, as I said unto you concerning another sign,
    a sign of his death,
    behold, in that day that he shall suffer death
    the sun shall be darkened and refuse to give his light unto you;
    and also the moon and the stars;
    and there shall be no light upon the face of this land,
    even from the time that he shall suffer death,
    for the space of three days,
    to the time that he shall rise again from the dead.

    21 Yea, at the time that he shall yield up the ghost
    there shall be thunderings and lightnings
    for the space of many hours,
    and the earth shall shake and tremble;
    and the rocks which are upon the face of this earth,
    which are both above the earth and beneath,
    which ye know at this time are solid,
    or the more part of it is one solid mass,
    shall be broken up;

    22 Yea, they shall be rent in twain,
    and shall ever after be found in seams and in cracks,
    and in broken fragments upon the face of the whole earth,
    yea, both above the earth and beneath.

    23 And behold, there shall be great tempests,
    and there shall be many mountains laid low,
    like unto a valley,

    If we believe in the arm of flesh... and say that these scientists are all correct...
    then where are the valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great?

    If you believe that Peru is the land of promise...
    then you must also believe there are mountains there now...
    that were valleys...
    whose height is great!


    Here is a copy of his Spring 2017 news letter:

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. In the Newsletter he uses the "Sea of Galilee" argument to assign the Sea East to Lake Titicaca. But he did not get around to deflecting the "isle of the sea" and "nearly surrounded by water" problems with his theory.

  4. Here was his response back:

    Dear Paul,

    During my mission, I lived through an earthquake in Peru that caused a glacier slide down a mountain and buried an entire city. The three days of darkness would appear to have been caused by volcanic activity, and the possible formation of mountains. Samuel's prophecies can be contained within a major seismic occurrence without raising the Andres from ocean.

    I am not saying that your theories are not possible, they just won't hold up as a defense against the critics of the Book of Mormon who use scientific information to discount the record. Thousands of young members leave the Church each year because they start to doubt the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. I just want to give them the scholastic tools they will need to ward off such doubts.

    Again, the more defenses we have the better.

    I then wrote him back... and said:

    Dear Brother Potter,

    I understand how the more defenses we have... the better. But I also know that truth outshines fabrication. Just look how many people have left the church because they found out Joseph would put his seer stone in the bottom of a hat.. and enclose his face around it.. blocking out all light... and then reading the words that would appear. And then to also find out the plates could be in the barn while he was translating in the kitchen. That brought much confusion when all the pictures that we have are Joseph with the plates in hand. Yet.. amazingly... no one else can produce a book like the Book of Mormon by looking into a hat and reading the words from a stone that is at the bottom.

    I am sure you have heard that in the Bible... at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus.. the sun was darkened for a period of 3 hours. How do the scientist's... and we... explain that? Science is having to change their ideas all the time due to new things that are occurring. NDE's (near death experiences) have flipped the science world on its head when a few people use to say that they saw everything that happened while being in surgery. Now you have thousands and thousands who testify to the same thing and they have begun to re-think their "scientific" position.

    I do not feel the scientific community is the God of this earth. Yet they act as if they know all.

    Samuel said valleys would become mountains... whose height is great. The Andean Mountain range is indeed "height that is great". And what is even more confusing... is that the other theorists of the other theories... have no mountain ranges who's height is great yet they say that their Land of Promise is in the Heartland, or Meso America.. or the Great Lakes... completely throwing out Samuels prophecy.

    It would be better for those of you who hold the land of South America as the promised land... to get together and be of one accord. The more we can pull from the Heartland.. the Great Lakes... and Mesoamerica... and get them all working in South America... the better it will be.

    And again... that is my two cents worth.

    By the way... think of what would have to happen for the sun to be eclipsed for a period of 3 hours. Either the moon had to stop moving all together... or another planet bigger than the earth... had to move between the sun and the earth that it took more than 3 hours for it to pass by. Funny how Nasa has mentioned and named that planet some time ago.. but are quite quiet about it now. :-)


  5. This is quite interesting MrNirom. Many years ago I started taking the magazine Acts and Facts which is a Creationist magazine. The Evang Christians have no problem at all believing in a very young earth and Noah's flood. That hasn't destroyed their faith at all.
    They have PhD in geology working on Noah's flood and Creationism.

    So why would believing that God can raise a continent up in 3hours is against science? It isn't as you well know. The Bom tells us these things.

    This guy Paul quite simply doesn't believe in Scripture sorry to say. What does he do with Noah's flood and also the fact that even the Bom has reference to that flood, Ether 13:2?

    So the point is, the scientists in this church have enshrined science as their god and not the God of scripture. I blame the profs at BYU for this departure from the faith. Quite sad.

    Keep up the good work MrNirom, thanks for enlightening us.

  6. It takes just as much faith against the sway of accepted science to believe that the there was light for a day, a night and a day as it takes to believe the Amazon basin was underwater before the time of Christ.