Friday, November 24, 2017

The City of Nephi – The Fortress of Sacsayhuamán – Part III

Continuing from the last post on the City of Nephi based on the scriptural account and the evidences today found at Sacsahuaman in Cuzco, Peru. 
    Mormon wrote: “and 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” (Alma 48:8). We discussed these walls at Sacsahuaman in the last post.
While the fortress overlooks the city of Nephi, it is also above the City of Shilom, which was next to the City of Nephi (Mosiah 9:6), which was called the City of Lehi-Nephi by Zeniff, (both were in a valley, overlooked by hills). As it states in the scriptural record, Ammon and his party, in search of those who had left with Zenniff, “came to a hill, which is north of the land of Shilom” (Mosiah 7:5), and leaving some there, he and three others “went down into the Land of Nephi” (Mosiah 7:6). When king Limhi sent his guards to get the others, “caused that they should go to the hill which was north of Shilom, and bring their brethren into the city” (Mosiah 7:16).
    We also know that the Land of Nephi in general is at a much higher elevation than the Land of Zarahemla, for it is said, “Zeniff went up out of the land even until the time that he himself [Ammon] came up out of the land” (Mosiah 8:2), i.e., both went up out of the Land of Zarahemla to the higher elevation of the Land of Nephi.
    To the south of the Land of Shilom, the Nephites had fields and lands planted with crops, as well as the place they kept their herds (Mosiah 9:14), and there was located the City of Nephi (Mosiah 9:15). And beyond the City and area of Nephi, evidently near the Land of Shilom, was located the Land of Shemlon (Mosiah 10:7-8). Evidently, somewhere between these two cities, was a valley or plain large enough for a battle to take place of such numbers, that the Nephites did not bother to count the dead Lamanites (Mosiah 10:20) and from that point, after their victory, the Nephites “returned again to our own land” (Mosiah 10:21), suggesting that this major battle did not take place in the Land of Shilom.
    Now in the area of Shilom, there is another city further north and west, about two miles from Shilom, which fits the location of Shemlon, and in between is a narrow valley green belt and tableland where such a battle could have taken place.
In king Noah’s time, following these events, he built the tower next to the temple in the City of Nephi, “a very high tower, even so high that he could stand upon the top thereof and overlook the land of Shilom, and also the land of Shemlon, which was possessed by the Lamanites; and he could even look over all the land round about” (Mosiah 11:12). From Sacsahuaman, the view down into the Valley and the city of Cuzco provides one atop Noah’s tower of a view of all three entrances into the valley, including the land of Shilom and Shemlon. It was later, from this very tower, that Noah “cast his eyes round about toward the land of Shemlon, and behold, the army of the Lamanites were within the borders of the land” (Mosiah 19:6).
    Noah built up not only the City of Nephi, but also the land and city of Shilom. “And it came to pass that he caused many buildings to be built in the land Shilom; and he caused a great tower to be built on the hill north of the land Shilom, which had been a resort for the children of Nephi at the time they fled out of the land; and thus he did do with the riches which he obtained by the taxation of his people” (Mosiah 11:13). 
    As a result, there should be in the Land of Promise a major city, with a temple and a tower next to it, from which height one could see over a large land to the north (Shilom) where major buildings were located (Mosiah 9:8). There was also nearby to the City of Nephi, probably within a one or two-day journey for it was located “in the borders of the land” (Mosiah 18:13), an area called “The waters of Mormon” where numerous baptisms took place (Mosiah 18:16), in an area called Mormon—or maybe the Land of Mormon (Mosiah 18:30) wherein was also the forest of Mormon (Mosiah 18:30).
    However, finding such a landmark more than 2000 years later, is tenuous at best, especially considering the destruction recorded in 3 Nephi, with mountains tumbling into valleys and flat land rising into mountains, “whose height is great,” it would be difficult to match, and any such suggestion would be questionable at best. All we can surmise from it would be that it was small enough to be searchable by the king’s army, yet large enough for Alma to hide in and not be found, and provide cover for 450 people (Mosiah 18:35).
The hill upon which Ammon rested above the city of Shilom before going into the land of Nephi

At the base of the hill upon which Sacsahuaman sits and the tower that Noah built, which was found when the Spanish arrived, is an area considered by archaeologists to be a very old community, that matches the area described in Mosiah 11:13 that is called the land Shilom. According to Ammon, they stopped on a hill overlooking the Land of Shilom, and he and three companions (Amaleki, Helem, and Hem) left the rest of their party on the hill and went down into the land of Nephi (Mosiah 7:6), thus, the hill where the fortress and tower was located overlooked both the city of Shilom and the city of Nephi.
    There, king Limhi outside the walls of the city at that moment, saw Ammon and his friends, and thinking they were the evil priests of Noah, had his guards tie up the intruders and cast them in prison.
It is also interesting that Zeniff’s descriptipn as Mormon abridged it of their tilling and planting their fields after twelve years of peace, it is written: “For, in the thirteenth year of my reign in the land of Nephi, away on the south of the land of Shilom, when my people were watering and feeding their flocks, and tilling their lands, a numerous host of Lamanites came upon them and began to slay them, and to take off their flocks, and the corn of their fields” (Mosiah 9:14, emphasis added). Note that it says “away on the south of the land of Shilom.”
    All of this fits into the Valley of Cuzco, with Sacsahuaman and the tower to the north, Shilom at the foot of the hill, and the hill upon which Ammon arrived overlooking both the city of Shilom and the city of Nephi. In addition, with Shemlon so identified, the Lamanites had unobserved access to reach the fields in which the people of Zeniff tilled the land and watched their flocks to the south in the land of Shilom.

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