Friday, September 21, 2018

From Hagoth’s Shipyards to the Puma Punku Docks – Part II

Continued from the last post regarding the role of the city complex known today as Tiahuanaco and the adjoining quays and wharfs of Puma Punku, that presently lie in extraordinarily random ruins atop the 12,500-foot-high Andes Central cordillera just south of Lake Titicaca.
    In Andean Peru, before the land lifted and the Andes rose to their present height, geologists tell us that South America was a long, rather narrow island along the western Andean shelf, stretching from southern Colombia southward to Patagonia, and the entire Amazon was under water, forming an obvious eastern sea, open in several areas to the Atlantic Ocean.
    Since ancient sailing ships could achieve between five and eight miles an hour, depending on winds and currents, it is safe to assume that Hagoth’s exceedingly large ships could probably achieve about that range of speed. This would make a trip from Hagoth’s shipyard to the docks at Puma Punku via the Sea North, a distance of about 2725 sea miles, based on 14-hours of day-time sailing, and a speed maintained at sea of about 7 miles per hour, a trip of about 28 days at sea; or at about 5 miles per hour, would result in 39 days at sea. 
    Of course there might be times when a ship needs to “hove to” during high winds or even a storm, where progress is meant to be stationary, and there would also be numerous stops along the way for trade, repair, and replenishment of supplies, all extending the length of the sailing time to a port. Thus a Nephite trading vessel would probably take somewhere two months, or a bit longer, to make the one-way voyage to the ancient port of Puma Punku.
Top: A ship down for repairs in dock while the crew careened the hull; Bottom: A ship being careened after being beached and hove to, a much more dangerous effort. Without such careening, teredoes and barnacles and seaweed will first slow and then destroy a ship

Here, with their large quay and hundreds of ship wharfs, repairs could be made when necessary, including conducting maintenance and repairs to the hull by heaving down the ship over on its side and careening one side of below the water line at a time while still afloat at high tide. This would be far easier and a lot safer than careening at sea by weight shifting or beaching the ship and careening at low tide.
    Thus, the quay size at Puma Punku would have been needed only if a nation was heavily involved in shipping, with hundreds of ships at sea around the home ports. Short of having “dry docks,” the Quay at Puma Punku would have been vital to the needs of such a large shipping nation as the Nephites evidently were.
    It is interesting that in his book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, John L. Sorenson claims that the Nephites would not have built ships like the early European vessels. He states (p268): “the ‘ship’ of Hagoth, if it was like craft known later on the Pacific coast, was either a very large dugout canoe with built-up sides or a log raft with sails. Whatever its form, it could hardly have been a complex planked vessel at all resembling European ships.”
    Let’s take a look at this statement: First of all, it was not “a ship” that Hagoth built, we know for certain he built at least three or four, in addition to the fact that while the first ship was at sea, he was at his shipyard building “other ships” (Alma 63:7). Note it states “other ships” Not one, not two, but “other” ships.
    So the first part of his statement is inaccurate.
Typical dugout canoes, showing the (top left) fire set in the log, the (upper right) insides scraped out; a (lower left) early stage of dugout, and (lower right) a near final two-man dugout canoe

In addition, there is no reason to believe that the types of ships built by the Nephites would have been replicated after their demise by the Lamanites. Thus what was found by Europeans explorers during their discovery of the Americas has no meaning on this issue.
    Secondly, in the size of Hagoth’s ships, Sorenson states: “either a very large dugout canoe with built-up sides…” Now it would be quite difficult to ship enough timber sufficient in any type of dug-out canoe to have an impact on cities building buildings with that limited amount of wood being shipped.
    Third, Sorenson states: “or a log raft with sails.” Now since Hagoth’s shipyard was along the west coast, that means the shipment of timber would have been up rivers, and log rafts do not float up rivers against the current, nor would sails add much headway to a log raft which would constantly be bucking the water against its prow. After all, timber on rivers is rarely moved up river, but always drifts down river.
    Fourth, Sorenson states: “Whatever its form, it could hardly have been a complex planked vessel at all resembling European ships.” Now this is really an interesting exclamation! Could hardly have been? What other type of vessel would an “exceedingly large ship” be? Let’s not be absurd with large dugout canoes or log rafts. Let’s remember that the Nephites were to “work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores” (2 Nephi 5:15), and built a temple like unto Solomon’s famed temple (2 Nephi 5:16); that built synagogues, temples and sanctuaries (Helaman 3:14); and wrote many books (Helaman 3:15). How is it that they could only manage dug-out canoes or log rafts?
    It also seems likely that several of the Nephites when young (many of the children of Sam, Nephi and Zoram), as well as Jacob and Joseph, saw the ship Nephi built, and sailed for weeks or months upon it; and later Nephites heard the stories of such a vessel. Would they not have built something similar, at least in design, technique and construction, even if not as big?
Top left: Medium sized dugout canoes, with a common width (of a tree) and a moderate length, for four to six people; Top Right: Longer dugout canoes, from longer tree lengths, though the width is about the same; Bottom: a large, ocean-going dugout canoe

By way of understanding, we cite one American Indian tribe known as the Quinault Nation of the Tulalip Group of Tribes, of the Hibulb Culture, who were well known for their canoes, that were more than the all-important transportation, but also a cultural icon of the people. To start with, the carving of a canoe from a single log, usually cedar, began with spiritual preparation—the carvers prepared themselves with fasting, prayers, and the sweat-lodge. It was not uncommon for the task of carving a large, ocean-going canoe to take two years. The work began with the choosing of a log, saying a prayer for the cedar and providing an offering given in thanks for its sacrifice. Then the log was hollowed with fire and adzes. Then, by filling the hollowed out log with hot water, the canoe makers could widen the canoe by forcing stout cross-pieces between the gunwales.
    The final stage in carving the canoe involved the use of hot rocks and water to steam-bend the sides outwards, which also drew the bow and stern upwards as well as adding strength to the vessel. For the large ocean-going canoes, the prow and stern decorative pieces were added last, then thwarts and seats were installed, and the exterior was finished. Finally, the canoe was given a name and made ready to begin its life on the water.
    It should also be kept in mind that dugout canoes are limited in size (around) to the size of a single tree, and limited in length to the length of a single tree. Log rafts can be as wide as logs tied together can be secured, and limited in thickness to the size of the logs.
At the same time, not only does it seem unlikely that Hagoth built such limited “ships” as dugout canoes or log rafts, it is far more likely that they built vessels, which Mormon states were “exceedingly large ships,” that had planked decks and similar to those of the later Europeans. In fact, they might well have been similar to the much later sloop and schooner, with narrower beams and shallow drafts enabling the ships to enter rivers and shallower coastal and shoal waters, and even coves, shallow channels and sounds, since all trading centers along the coasts might not have been sufficiently docked in the early era of the Nephites. 
    How refreshing it must have been for them to have sailed into the Quay at Puma Punku with its size and accommodations for a crew that had been weeks at sea and in dangerous waters and difficult docking routines in order to trade their goods to the main and smaller settlements along the coast.
(See the next post, “From Hagoth’s Shipyards to the Puma Punku Docks – Part III,” for more information on the place and role of the city complex that now lies in ruins atop the 12,500 foot high Andes Central cordillera just south of Lake Titicaca)

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