Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Journey to Bountiful and the Building of Nephi’s Ship – Part VII

Continued from the previous post regarding the journey to the land of Bountiful and the building of Nephi’s ship. This seventh article in the series covers the building of the ship in the area of Khor Rori and how the area meets the scriptural references.
Top: Aerial view of the inlet of Khor Rori along the Omani coast of Salalah, showing the two cliffs on either side and the location of the later fort of Sumhuram; Bottom: Ground view of the Khor inside the entrance, looking out toward the Sea of Arabia beyond the East Cliff

To make certain this area of this fertile Salalah Plain was the area Nephi describes in the scriptural record, we have listed several criteria listed in the scriptural record and those out of necessity that would have been required, such as fresh water, fertile soil for planting crops for two years while building the ship, etc. In the previous post, we listed the first 9 of these criteria, below we continue with the tenth one:
10. Cliff from which Laban and Lemuel could have thrown Nephi into the sea (1 Nephi 17:48);
• While the scriptural record does not specifically identify a cliff, one simply cannot throw someone into the depths of the sea from the beach. To get to the “depths of the sea,” one must get beyond the shallows; and to “throw” someone into the sea, they need to be of some height above the water line. Consequently, a cliff seems to make the most sense in the description indicated in this verse. And in Salalah, at Khor Rori, there are two cliffs—Inqita’a Tanqua and inqitia’a Mirbat, or the West Cliff and the East Cliff, both flank the entrance to the inlet and Khor Rori from the sea.
    “God had commanded me that I should build a ship” (1 Nephi 17:49), and for those theorists of today who want to claim that Nephi and his brothers could not have built a ship by themselves but needed outside, experienced ship-building help, Nephi said, “And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?” (1 Nephi 17:51). It is always amazing how difficult it is for theorists to accept what Nephi says, as though they know better, quoting this expert and that expert to show that Nephi didn’t really mean what he said—that he simply could not have built a ship without local expert help. That, however, is not the belief, nor ever has been, of this blog and these articles written about the events of the scriptural record.
11. Area where strong winds could assist the bellows in blowing the fire for smelting and making tools;
• As stated earlier, Nephi said that he built a bellows, and also built a fire (1 Nephi 17:11) where he smelted the ore from the rock (1 Nephi 17:16) to make his tools. First of all, there are four ways of getting air into a smelter: 1) human breath blown through pipes; 2) wind; 3) natural draft; land 4) bellows.
Ancient Egyptian metalsmiths blowing the fire with human breath through blowpipes

The method of human breath blown through blowpipes is far less effective since exhaled air contains considerably less oxygen than normal air (14% instead of 21%), and contains carbon dioxide (about 5 % instead of 0.04 %) and around 6 % water. So it not only supplies less of the important oxygen but adds useless stuff that will absorb heat. The maximum temperatures achievable would be 2370-2730º F, which is quite low compared to the 3630º F. achievable with a sufficient supply of regular air. Blowpipes of course would not provide sufficient heat to melt iron, so that leaves wind and bellows.
    Nor is a natural draft furnace much better, since it needs several tuyeres (a nozzle through which air is forced into a forge with large inner diameters). Unfortunately, these tuyeres did not produce high air velocities, and the air introduced was inhomogenous, that is, it did not provide uniform air inflow, causing the fire to not have a consistent degree of heat all around. On the other hand, natural wind, or wind-powered furnace, especially in wind of high velocity, was often superior to these other two methods, and was used in Sri Lanka around 400 BC and earlier. The wind on top of the inlet cliffs at Khor Rori would have been sufficient to drive such a furnace, though wind, of course, is seldom consistent. Yet, in Sri Lanka, industrial steel furnaces used the regular monsoon winds to get enough oxygen  into the furnace to keep the heat up in making enough steel for all the people who wanted it—and the monsoon winds of the south Arabian peninsula were also capable of accomplishing the same.
    However, early on, the bellows, was the most effective manner in blowing a fire, and the one Nephi says he used. It is very likely that he used both his bellows and the wind-blown method to heat the fire to the level needed to melt iron out of the ore, and to make steel, a metal he evidently knew and understood (1 Nephi 4:9).
12. Forest for trees to make timber to build the ship (1 Nephi 18:1-2), and to make ropes and provide material for the sail(s);
• Khor Rori, particularly in the wadi Darbat area above the Khor, is inundated with trees, many of which were perfect for making ships, like the jumaise sycamore fig, which also grows along the slopes of the mountains. The jumaise is a hardwood and grows quite large,  with the wood resilient to seawater and most free of knots. In this area, the jumaise lumber is used for ships even to this day. According to Lynn and Hope Hilton, who visited this area for the Church, “It took no great imagination to visualize Nephi harvesting this great tree for the timbers used to construct his ship” (Hilton, Discovering Lehi, Cedar Fort, 1996).
Left: Coconut trees; Right: Jumaise Sycamore Fig trees—both used in Salalah to make ships ancient as well as today

There is also the presence of coconut trees, a type of timber used to make ships that traveled the oceans in pre-modern times. Warren Aston claims that some seafarers in the Arabian Sea/Indian Ocean actually made their entire ship out of products from the coconut tree. The timber, the rope, the sails, etc. all from the coconut palm. And these boats sailed in the ocean. 
13. River or large stream to bring felled trees to the building site (1 Nephi 17:
• Rarely would a forest be close enough to a building site alongside an ocean going waterway, such as a large river so felled trees would have to be brought from the forest to the building site. In that, floating logs down a river is by far the easiest and fastest way to accomplish that need. Such an area exists at Khor Rori, where the forests are situated above the highland river and lake of Wadi Darbat, where camels could drag the felled and dressed (trimmed) logs to the river, which would then float down with the current toward the inlet where the ship building would have taken place. Without such a waterway between the forest and the building site, much time and energy would have been required to get the logs to the building site.
14. Animals, such as camels (or elephants) to drag the felled trees from the water and up to the building site;
• Like getting the felled logs to the river upstream, here camels could have been used to drag the logs from the river to the work areas of the building site. Such an area exists at Khor Rori where such activity is still taking place today where trees are felled for the building of boats.
15. Timber sufficient to build Ways and the cradle for supporting the ship while building, scaffolding while working on the ship’s construction, and then rails for launching the ship;
Along the Wadi Darbat, where numerous forests of trees abound

• There are numerous different trees and wood selections for various small requirements in building the site, the ways, rails, cradle, and other needs. Also for the building of small parts of the ship, such as interior stairs and steps, topside construction, cabins, planking for deck, etc. All of these are available at Khor Rori with the forest along the Wadi Darbat.
    Since the importance of this location to the winds and currents off the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula is best understood when understanding how the wind and ocean work, it should be noted that wind exerts stress on the ocean surface proportional to the square of the wind speed and in the direction of the wind, setting the surface water in motion. This motion extends to a depth of about 330-feet in what is called the Ekman layer. Obviously, the wind blowing over the sea surface transfers momentum to the water. This frictional force at the sea surface (the wind stress) produces the wind-driven circulation, which form huge gyres that dominate the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. These Gyres, which are large anticyclonic current cells that spiral about a central point, flow clockwise north of the equator and counter-clockwise south of the equator, such as the northern and southern gyres of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
    Deep-ocean circulation consists mainly of thermohaline circulation. The currents are inferred from the distribution of seawater properties, which trace the spreading of specific water masses. The distribution of density is also used to estimate the deep currents. Direct observations of subsurface currents are made by deploying by current meters from bottom-anchored moorings and by setting out neutral buoyant instruments whose drift at depth is tracked acoustically.
    With this in mind, let us cover that last two important points connected to the location of Khor Rori and Lehi’s encampment there while his sons and those of Ishmael built a ship in which to cross the Irreantum Sea to his promised land. So let us cover, in addition to these necessary requirements, some of the additional advantages of the area that Lehi called Bountiful.
(See the next post, “The Journey to Bountiful and the Building of Nephi’s Ship – Part VII,” for the building of Nephi’s ship and their journey across the sea)


  1. Looks like a great fit for the place where Nephi built his ship. Has the CES/BYU boys bought in on this location? Is it one of their possibilities?

  2. Khor Rori had always been the place since Lynn and Hope Hilton discovered it in 1996 on a exploration trip assignment for the Church. However,Richard Wellington and George Potter claimed in 2006 that the site should be Khor Kharfot in Yemen (a few miles west of Salalah in Oman). Then, later, around 2008, W. Revell Phillips claims it should be Khor Mughsayl, a khor (an inlet) between the other two. The overall consensus, of course, is that it was located along this coast where the khareef effects the weather and allows for a veritable paradise along the coastal strip.
    As for BYU, and Mesoamerica, it presents a problem of reaching Mesoamerica from there, which is what the battle over sailing around Africa is all about--or sailing east from Arabia through Indonesia and island-hopping across the Pacific (both of which would prove highly unlikely when considering winds and currents, and inherent dangers, etc.)