Sunday, November 5, 2017

Is the Small and Narrow Neck of Land Misunderstood? Part X

Continuing and concluding with George Potter’s article on the Narrow Neck of Land and his narrow pass and for the continuation of the last post on the Lurin Valley as Potter’s division between the Land Northward and the Land Southward, with the area of Lima being his Land of Desolation, and the Lurin Valley being Potter’s Land of Bountiful. We conclude this series by adding a further comment: 
    Potter Comment: “The Lurin Valley from the shoreline to the Andes was, undoubtedly, a line of defense to halt invading armies from the south. What words would a writer in antiquity use to describe a narrow highway with tall walls on both sides, that ran for several miles? Would the words, “neck of land” have been indicative of this manmade feature?
    Response: First of all, there is no value of building a road with high walls on both sides, since there would never be a chance to escape such a path, and when we are talking about people building walls for defense in the Book of Mormon times, such a construction would be self-defeating.
    Secondly, “Small neck,” and “Narrow neck,” have very specific meanings in topography or terrain, even in 1829 when Joseph Smith translated these words, i.e., “A long narrow tract of land projecting from the main body, or a narrow tract connecting two larger tracts.” Today, “neck of land” refers to an “isthmus.” In fact, all of these descriptions mean “isthmus” today: 1) Neck of land, 2) narrow strip linking two larger areas of land, 3) narrow neck of land, 4) narrow strip of land, 5) a relatively narrow strip of land, 6) a narrow or elongated projecting strip of land, and 7) any narrow, connecting, or projecting part suggesting a neck.
    Third, the narrow neck of land mentioned in the scriptural record was a connecting land between the Land Northward and the Land Southward, thus it ran north and south, not east and west as does Potter's Lurin Valley.
    Potter Comment: “Even more descriptive of a “line” is a great wall that was built on the north side of the mouth of the Lurin Valley. Today, the remains of the wall, approximately fifteen feet wide at the base and of equal height, can still be seen. Although only remnants of the wall still exist, it appears to have run from where the protective mountains ended to the seashore, thus, forming one last line of defense. For invading armies from the southeast and south to be able to enter the lands northward, they first had to overrun the wall.”
The Great Wall of Peru (Top: red line and gold arrow) shows location of the Great Wall; Middle and Bottom: red and yellow arrows shows wall stretching across miles of the Santa River Valley, from the sea in the west toward the east, across mountains and down slopes, maintaining at least a 15-foot high level

Response: We have written about the “Great Wall of Peru,” many times in this blog. It is not located in the Lurin Valley, but nearly 300 miles further north, beyond Lima and north of Huambacho, running along the Santa River across the valley of the Santa in the Callejon (corridor) of the Huaylas. Agreed to by archaeologists, it was obviously constructed to keep southern invading armies from overrunning the northern areas of Peru, and was strategically built along precipitous terrain at two miles altitude and gave its defenders the benefit of high ground. Any attacking force would have great difficulty fighting uphill to the wall. It is now in a state of ruin, but considered a masterpiece of construction, regarded as one of the most ambitious projects undertaken in South American archaeology. Built at altitudes of 8,000 to 12,000 feet in extremely rugged terrain, it is 15-feet wide at the base and rises to that height, and even higher where it crosses depressions, running along high ridges and is studded with stone forts at strategic intervals. It was first discovered in 1931 and photographed by Robert Shippee and George R. Johnson from the air (which included 3600 photoprints mounted on cardboard, and 3600 photonegatives, including 2470 aerial photographs, including over 37 miles of “The Great Wall of Peru).
    Potter Comment: The ceramics at the site have an influence from the northern Peru coastline, which would be consistent with the Jaredites at Norte Chico having had a satellite city in the important Lurin Valley.”
    Response: This satellite city has earlier been identified by Potter as the City of Desolation, or the city the Jaredites built at the narrow neck where the sea divides the land. There is no place in Potter’s Lurin Valley or along the coast, where it could be said the “sea divideth the land.” Perhaps more importantly, the Norte Chico area is considered to have been occupied from about 900 B.C. (about 1200 years after the arrival of the Jaredites) to about 100 A.D. (about 700 years after the demise of the Jaredites), not consistent with Jaredite time frame.
    Potter Comment: “Using the Book of Mormon’s criteria for the narrow neck of land, we see that there was an excellent match in ancient Peru.
    Response: Actually, there is nothing that Potter has introduced that agrees with the scriptural record as has been pointed out in these several posts.
    Potter Comment: “The Lurin Valley is a narrow valley; however, on its east end is a very narrow passage or gorge through the mountains that would constitute a military “point” of defense. Cobo described just how narrow the pass was on the road up the Lurin Valley: “The part of this road of the plains that reaches the sierra and broken land was made by hand with much work and skill. If it passed through hillsides with cliffs and slabs of rock, a narrow path, only wide enough for one person leading a llama or sheep, was dug in the boulders itself; and this type of construction did not run very far, but as soon as the boulder or slab was passed, the road widened again.”
    Response: As has been pointed out in the previous post, a narrow pass is one thing, but not sufficient alone—there cannot be egress to get around it to the side, no matter how far as long as it is accessible. Again, one can find narrow passes, some cut in rock, all over the Andes as discussed earlier.
    Potter Comment: “The narrow pass at the Andes end of the Lurin Valley appears to be the place where the Spanish conquistadors feared for their lives as they returned from to Cajamarca. Hernando wrote: “The road was so bad that they [the Inca warriors] could have easily taken us there or at another pass which we found between here and Cajamarca.”
    Response: First of all, Potter’s attempt to connect these two areas are actually 530 miles apart, and the pass leading to or away from Cajamarca would have nothing to do with the pass leading into or out of the Lurin Valley far to the south. Secondly, the road from Cajamarca south to the Lurin Valley would have been the coastal road, not the inland road that wound through the highlands and along the Andes, which is slower because it is cut through several rock faces with narrow passes. The safest route would have been along the coast, since there would have been no real passes to fear.
The Coastal Road and the Main Road (or highland road) were the two main north-south highways

The road system itself had 20 criss-crossing roads the main two north south highways, and many other smaller trails besides. In addition, and this is important, roads were also built which went beyond Inca-controlled settlements and led to outside territory, which should suggest to all that these roads were not built by the Inca, but by an earlier people whose territory encompassed the entire area of Andean South America, far beyond what the Inca controlled.
    Potter Comment: “Along the parts of these hills and slopes where there was some ravine or narrow gorge that cut off the road, even though it was three or four estados deep, rock walls were also made from below and built up to the level of the road. As one conquistador said, “Coming from Cajamarca, we could not use the horses on the roads, not even with skill, and off the roads we could take neither horses nor foot-soldiers.” Indeed the junction on the Inca roads in the Lurin valley was a major military position with a key “point” that was easy to defend. The point was the place where the Inca highway passed through a narrow river gorge.
    Response: First, and again, the distance from Cajamarca to Lurin is 530 miles, to cover that distance on horseback would take several days. Nor is it likely that the Spanish rode such distances on any regularly basis. They well would have covered the area from north to south over the two years of their fighting, and the fear of the Spanish would have been in embracing any pass, wherever encountered. Second, the reason why the Spanish feared the areas mentioned is as they wrote, they could not use their horses there. Mounted, the Spanish were a formidable enemy, but on foot, they were vulnerable to the numerous Inca warriors. When we keep in mind that the Spanish had just over a hundred soldiers and the Inca had thousands of warriors, anytime the Spanish dismounted, they would have been far easier prey.
    However, that is not to say that these roads were defended by walls along them as Potter suggests. In fact, all roads built were “typically edged and protected with small stone walls,” that protected them from the weather, blowing sands, encroaching flora etc.
    The point is, that when someone writes about the Land of Promise and ignores the guidelines and descriptions found in the scriptural record, then we need to understand that. Potter ignores the narrow neck of land as being a narrow strip of land, or an isthmus as described and understood in the 1828 dictionary, ignores the narrow pass running between the east sea and the west sea, that led into the Land Northward and the Land Southward in a north-south direction, and the numerous other descriptions Mormon left us as has been pointed out here. It is simply not appropriate to come up with one’s own interpretation of such simple language that leaves little room for question.


  1. Del, I continue to appreciate your blog. I predict some day your books will be textbooks at BYU.

    I bought Potter's book before I knew of your blog (but I did have the Priddis book) and never finished reading it because it was obvious he was off.

    I happen to also be slowly reading these days your "Book Four" about scientific fallacies. Are you aware of the Thunderbolts project that promotes an electrical cosmology for the universe? Here is an example:

    Exposing the Myth of Gravitational Lensing

  2. I am familiar with several of these rather far-out ideas about the universe, etc. Of all I have seen, I think Einstein's Unified Field Theory is the closest to leading us in the right direction--too bad be could never finalize it (he claimed he lacked sufficient math). What I think is that when we come to learn how everything works and is, we are going to be amazed how different it is from anything we have been thinking. I believe God's realm is far beyond anything we can image because of our extremely limited understanding of the universe.