Monday, December 18, 2017

Pathway to the Heartland and Great Lakes Landing Sites – the Mississippi, Ohio and St Lawrence Rivers– Part III

Continued from the last post, regarding the flat-bottomed boats that were all the boats that could move along the Mississippi prior to the dredging and deepening of the inner waterway system in North America, and whether or not Lehi could have sailed up the Mississippi River, or another inland waterway in 600 B.C.
Proposed Lehi course to North America by some theoristrs: Red: Around African Cape; Yellow: Up Mississippi River to Nauvoo/Zarahemla; Dark Blue: Across Mediterranean to Caribbean and on to the Mississippi: Dark Green: Swing up to St. Lawrence River in Canada; Light Green: St. Lawrence River up to Lake Ontario and Lake Erie

The problem is, that theorists, with pre-determined ideas, such as Lehi landing in North America, look at a map to try and figure out how he got there in order to support their views. They see the Mississippi River leading to the Nauvoo/Zarahemla area and conclude that is how Nephi’s ship reached the area; or they look at the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers leading to the Great Lakes and conclude that is how Nephi’s ship reached Lake Erie. or that he took the St. Lawrence River to Lake Ontario.
    Unfortunately, they do not look beyond that initial view, and determine in their own minds that Lehi reached either of these two areas. In this way, they support their beliefs, and at least to themselves, authenticate their pre-determined view.
    They then backtrack that Gulf of Mexico entrance to the Mississippi and traced a route around the cape of Africa and up the Indian Ocean to the Arabian Peninsula and determined that route was how Lehi got from Bountiful to the West Sea and the Land of Promise. However, what looks easy on a flat map is often quite different in reality, as experienced mariners throughout the ages have testified.
    So the question is, could a ship have rounded the Cape of Good Hope off the southern tip of Africa in 600 B.C? Eventually, some ships did, but not before many wrecks and loss of life occurred--that is why that area was called the "Graveyard of Ships."
    However, since some ships did, we cannot ignore the fact that this route would have taken Lehi through some of the most dangerous and hazardous waters known to early sailors, as the Cabo das Tormentas, or Cape of Storms.” The numerous shipwrecks and extreme loss of life that occurred by early mariners trying to round the Cape, would not have been a simple event as it seems to be for so many theorists.
    It all began in 130 B.C., when Eudoxus of Cyzicus, a Greek navigator for Ptolemy VIII, king of the Hellenistic Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt, while returning from a voyage to India about 470 years after Lehi sailed, was blown south of the Gulf of Aden and down the coast of east Africa for some distance. There he found the remains of a ship, which, due to its appearance and the story told by the natives, Eudoxus concluded that the ship was from Gades (Cádiz in Spain) that was wrecked and all hands lost as it tried to round the African Cape from the Atlantic Ocean enroute to the Indian Ocean.
    Excited about the prospect that the Indian Ocean may not be a closed sea, but open at the southern end of Africa, providing a possible sea route to the Atlantic, Eudoxus traveled to Gades from Egypt across the Mediterranean, where he organized an expedition on his own account. He then set sail from Gades and began to work down the African coast. According to Henry F. Tozer in History of Ancient Geography, (Biblo & Tannen, 1997, pp189-190), Eudoxus encountered such problems with the winds and currents near the Cape, that he could not overcome the extreme difficulties, and he was forced to turn back, defeated, and return to Europe.
    After this failure Eudoxus again set out to circumnavigate Africa, and though his eventual fate is unknown, it was believed, and Tozer verifies, that he perished on the journey. Not until 1420 was an attempt again made to try and travel around Africa.
    In 1450, Fra Mauro created a map depicting the Indian Ocean connecting to the Atlantic, and naming the southern tip of Africa as Cape of Diab, and describing two attempts to sail around this cape. The first, was a voyage in 1420 of a Zonchi (a junk that navigated the Indian Ocean seas with four masts and many cabins for merchants), an early vessel that navigated without a compass because, according to the Fra Mauro's map text, they had astrologers aboard who stood on the side with an astrolabe in hand, giving orders to the navigator. According to the Venetian explorer Niccolo da Conti, who was in Calicut, India, at the time, said that the Indian was caught in the fury of a tempest for forty days out in the Sea of India, beyond the Cape of Soffala and the Green Islands toward the west-southwest; and according to the astrologers they had advanced almost 2,000 miles, meaning they had sailed 4,000 miles.
    This encouraged the Portuguese to intensity their effort to round the tip of Africa, and in 1488, the first European to reach the cape was Bartolomeu Dias, who named it the Cape of Storms. It was later renamed by John II of Portugal as "Cape of Good Hope" (Cabo da Boa Esperança) because of the great optimism engendered by the possible opening of a sea route to India and the Dutch colony that was eventually established there. 
    This Cape area is the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, with their currents meeting at the point where the warm-water Agulhas Current meets the cold water Benguela Current and turns back on itself. That oceanic meeting point fluctuates between Cape Agulhas and Cape Point, which are part of the “forces of nature” the early mariners had to learn to overcome as they encountered the numerous dangers when trying to navigate around the Cape--many died before this was achieved. 
    Part of these problems were learning to make their way through the strong south-easterlies, and overcome the strong Agulhas Current as it strikes the Pacific Current and is turned back--this was a matter of experience, not knowledge. In reality, every ocean has its own weather and current systems, and when they collide the result is bad weather, mean ocean waves, and conflicting currents. Together, it means extreme ship threatening conditions even today, and especially in the early days of sailing.
    While even the most experienced sailing crews found the route extremely dangerous and to be avoided, we are talking about a family of Hebrews living on the mountains of Jerusalem all their lives, surrounded by deserts and dry, arid lands. Their sailing ability and knowledge would have been non-existent. Such an endeavor, even with instructions written on the Liahona, would not have aided them in acquiring an ability to handle such extreme and dangerous conditions, reacting correctly in emergencies, as they attempted to round Africa in those turbulent and hazardous waters.
However, even if such were possible and could be accomplished by such novice sailors, the fact is, that when they reached the Gulf and the Mississippi delta, the fact that the river up which they must sail more than 850 miles to the location of Nauvoo-Zarahemla was unnavigable to deep-ocean vessels would be a major roadblock to such a theory.  
    As we have shown from the previous post, such a journey up the Mississippi would have been impossible at any time prior to the Corps of Engineers dredging, deepening and building locks and dams along the Mississippi in the 1820-1840s that enabled any kind of ship to travel up the Mississippi other than a flat-bottomed barge or paddlewheel vessel. And the fact that the winds and currents move down the Mississippi, not up, would also have precluded Nephi’s ship, even if the river was not so shallow, from moving up the river when it was “driven forth before the wind,” which in this case blew in the opposite direction.
    Once again, it should be noted that the Mississippi, beyond or north of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was so shallow, nothing but small flat-bottomed boats could move along it, and not even paddlewheelers could navigate north of there until the early efforts began dredging the southern end of the river in the 1820s, and as far north as Nauvoo in the 1840s when the Corps of Engineers began deepening the river and building locks and dams.
(See the next post, “Pathway to the Heartland and Great Lakes Landing Sites – the Ohio and St Lawrence Rivers– Part III,” for more on what it took to make the Mississippi and inland waterways navigable for anything other than flat-bottomed, shallow-draft boats, to show how impossible it would have been for Lehi to have sailed up the river in 600 B.C.)

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